After the Team New Zealand had successfully defended the AC 2000 with its first class NZL-60, both the LVC 2002/03 and the AC were again held in the Hauraki Gulf of Auckland. A yacht club from a landlocked country (.. "the land-locked Switzerland .... with no arm to the sea ..") challenged for the first time the AC and brought it back to Europe after 152 years. Money was the most important role. The New Zealand team was falling apart. More than 30 crew members have been bought up mainly by Alinghi and OneWorld.From the sail numbers SWE-63 (Örn = eagle) to NZL-82 20 new yachts were built.Ilbruk Challenge, supported by the entrepreneur and off-shore sailor Michael Ilbruk was the first German team ever signing up its challenge.As the challenge was subsequently withdrawn, their GER-68 was launched, but not completed.
As in many previous cases before the LVC showed a lot more candidates interested in a challeng than the 9 remaining teams The New Zealand journalist and photographer Ivor Wilkins described them as "a pack of 9 hungry challengers, many of them supported by the richest men in the world and armed with transplanted New Zealand talents and their ingenuity."
SUI-64, the winner of the AC 2003
NZL-82 the hapless defender of the AC 2003AC 2003
A yacht club from a landlocked country (.. "the land-locked Switzerland .... with no arm to the sea ..") challenged for its first time the AC