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America's Cup deadline comes with only five challengers

Only five challengers have signed up for the chance to take on software billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA in the 2017 America's Cup.

Team New Zealand in action in San Francisco. Source: 1 NEWS

Organisers announced today that Emirates Team New Zealand, Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge, Britain's Ben Ainslie Racing, Sweden's Artemis Racing and Team France have passed muster and paid the US$1 million first installment of the $2 million entry fee.

That's an increase of two challengers from the last America's Cup. But the staggering cost of competing for the oldest trophy in international sports could swamp some competitors, causing Ellison's vision of a grand regatta with mainstream appeal to fizzle.

An Australian team dropped out earlier this summer, citing the high cost of competing.

There's still the chance for a late entry, although the viability of such a team would be in question.

The second $1 million installment of the entry fee - which goes to a regatta officials fund - plus a $1 million performance bond is due by Dec. 1.

The 2007 America's Cup attracted 11 challengers. The 2013 edition attracted only three, and Artemis Racing was set back by a capsize during training that killed British Olympic star Andrew "Bart" Simpson.

Nearly 11 months after the last splash of salt spray from Oracle Team USA's thrilling victory over Emirates Team New Zealand in the 34th America's Cup on San Francisco Bay, organisers have yet to pick the venue for 2017 or announce sponsors and a TV deal.

Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp., has tasked Kiwi Sir Russell Coutts, a five-time America's Cup winner, with planning the next regatta. Coutts has punted San Francisco as the venue, saying it would be too expensive to race there again, and could take the event out of the United States.

Coutts, has won the America's Cup for three different countries, is currently deciding between San Diego and Bermuda. Coutts is CEO of Oracle Team USA, director of the America's Cup Event Authority and is one of three people with Oracle ties on the five-member America's Cup committee of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the cup's trustee.

If Coutts choses Bermuda, a British territory, it would be the first time an American defender has taken the competition out of the United States.

There's still no word which syndicate will replace Australia's Hamilton Island Yacht Club as Challenger of Record. Hamilton Island pulled out in July, the second time since Ellison won the America's Cup in 2010 in a one-off against Alinghi of Switzerland that the Challenger of Record has dropped out due to costs.