Saturday, March 31, 2007

Team Aqua finishes match-race event unbeaten in Portoroz Cup

[Source: RC44] Team Aqua accomplishes the hat trick by finishing the match race event unbeaten and setting up a new standard in the RC 44 Class. Cro-A-Sail finishes second, ahead of Team Omega. Tomorrow, the last fleet races will determine the overall winner of the Portoroz Cup.

“This is a fantastic boat to sail; it brings the right answers to everything that is lacking in the other one design classes.” Winner of the match-race series of the Portoroz Cup, and leader of the fleet race (to be completed tomorrow), Chris Bake (UAE) was all smiles on the pontoons this evening. Indeed, his team – led by kiwi pro Cameron Appleton – had just won the match race event of the Portoroz Cup, finishing unbeaten ahead of last year’s leading team Cro-A-Sail and Team Omega with Russell Coutts at the helm. A great achievement!

The day started under thick grey clouds and a light rain, but the sun was soon back together with a light thermal breeze, allowing a glorious conclusion to the match race event. Team Omega, Beecom and Ekipa 44, who were even after ten flights, put all their energy in the fight for third place during the last matches of the day.

This is when Team Omega, on great form, won a decisive match against the Croatian team, putting an end to their hopes of final victory. Indeed, Team Aqua had previously beaten Coutts’s team, taking a decisive leadership on the ranking.

Second day of match races at the Portoroz Cup. Portoroz, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Portoroz Cup

The last match of the day, between Team Aqua and Cro-A-Sail, confirmed the fleet’s hierarchy, Cameron Appleton dominating Tomislav Basic to end up with 12 victories / 0 defeats.

Another happy team is the Japanese entry Beecom, who finishes fourth with six victories. “We lost against the same teams during the first and second round robins”, commented Morten Henriksen, helmsman for the match race. “But we really feel that we have improved a lot, particularly our on-board communication, which is tricky with an international team such as ours.”

Tomorrow, the seven strong RC 44 fleet will conclude the fleet race event. The overall winner of the Portoroz Cup will be the team with the best combined results in the match and fleet races.

Second day of match races at the Portoroz Cup. Portoroz, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Portoroz Cup

They said:

Cameron Appleton, match race helmsman, Team Aqua:
“This is one of the most pleasurable matches I have sailed for a very long time. I love this kind of racing; the boats and the format are great. I think that it is the direction the sport should take. The parallel with America’s Cup boats is huge in the way we sail, handle the boat and crew. But of course the teams are much smaller and a campaign much simpler to handle.”

Mitja Margon, Ekipa 44:
“It is fair to say that we are the less experienced team in the fleet. We’ve had only six days to train before the event. We are a group of friends, but with many Olympic or very experienced sailors. We are improving every day. Our big advantage is that we live where the boat is moored. Unlike the other teams, we will be able to train a lot before the next race in Split.”

Alberto Leghissa, Magia Alikè:
“Our boat was very fast and we are happy with our trimmings. But we lack practice. We are improving a lot. Today, we lost against Team Omega and Cro-A-Sail. It’s not really a surprise. Personally, I haven’t sailed a match for over a year, so it is great to be able to win some matches…”

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Italian training derby one day before unveiling

A mere three days before Louis Vuitton Act 13 and a few hours before the unveiling ceremony, a handful of teams trained off Valencia's coast. Some teams chose to train far away from indiscreet eyes while there were a couple of match races, among them, the Italian derby between challengers Luna Rossa and Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team.

We cannot comment on the race or its result, but let's say it was very interesting. According to what Paul Cayard stated it could well be the Louis Vuitton Cup final but of course it might have been a far fetched statement to please the Italian media. We'll know in a few weeks.

ITA-94 of Luna Rossa and ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team racing during a training regatta, three days before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Valencia, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Ignacio Baixauli / www.mmediapress.com

ITA-94 of Luna Rossa and ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team racing during a training regatta, three days before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Valencia, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Ignacio Baixauli / www.mmediapress.com

ITA-94 of Luna Rossa and ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team racing during a training regatta, three days before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Valencia, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Ignacio Baixauli / www.mmediapress.com

ITA-94 of Luna Rossa and ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team racing during a training regatta, three days before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Valencia, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Ignacio Baixauli / www.mmediapress.com

ITA-94 of Luna Rossa and ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team racing during a training regatta, three days before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Valencia, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Ignacio Baixauli / www.mmediapress.com

ITA-94 of Luna Rossa and ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team racing during a training regatta, three days before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Valencia, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Ignacio Baixauli / www.mmediapress.com

ITA-94 of Luna Rossa and ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team racing during a training regatta, three days before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Valencia, 31 March 2007. Photo copyright Ignacio Baixauli / www.mmediapress.com

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Longtze: A blitz design story

Daniel Andrieu, member of China Team's design team, sent us this interesting report on the design of Longtze (Son of the Dragon), CHN-95, the first ever America's Cup yacht to be built in China. Given the very limited resources of the Chinese challenger, the design group was forced to attack the matter with a blitzkrieg, hence the title of the article.

Without any doubt, Longtze will be the boat in Port America's Cup not to need any unveiling ceremony because since his launch the Chinese team never tried to hide it:

Tomorrow, 1st of April, day of the "Unveiling Ceremony", will mark exactly one year, day for day, that Luc Gellusseau, Chief Operations Manager of China Team, summoned us, Hervé Devaux, Philippe Pallu de la Barrière and myself, and asked us to constitute the "China Design Team".

Goal: To design and have built the 1st Chinese ACC in history. Start of building in 3 months, the 1st of July, delivery on November 15, after 4½ months of construction in China.

The bet was crazy, we thus accepted it!

In a standard America's Cup campaign, the Design and Engineering Team is made up very early, generally from the very start, that is to say 2 to 3 years before the Louis Vuitton Cup. It is made up of multiple specialists allowing in investigation the whole definite design field. It has the experimental means (CFD, Tank testing and Wind tunnel) ad hoc. It works in coherence with the Sport Team. It takes part in the development of the ACC of old generations. It thus has the time and resources to conclude its task: design and develop a maximum of 2 boats, able to reach the highest possible level of the competition.

Our adventure was quite different from this ideal process.

The smallest budget of the Cup, approximately 10 million euros, dictated its harsh reality: No time, few human and technical resources, no referring crew, no research and development!

The specification book was at the same time simple and constraining: "You have three months to make us the best possible boat, you are completely free, with the "simple" following conditions:
1. The deck and structure of CHN-69 will be cut out and re-used for the new boat;
2. The appendages and rigging spars will be those of CHN-69"

In addition to myself, 4 America's Cups, China Design Team (CDT) is composed of two of the best specialists in the world in their respective fields, Hervé Devaux (HDS) for the structures, on his credit, 5 America's Cups, the large majority of the Open 60' and Multi 60', the winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race, etc..., both for the hull structures and the spars, and Philippe Pallu de la Barrière (CRAIN), 6 America's Cups, one of best in aerodynamics, hydrodynamics and CFD. This Design Team knows itself very well, having worked on many joint projects and is able to work in team, "without egos". Each one with his privileged field, but also intervening in that of the others, since after all, work is common.


First sail of Longtze (press play to start video)

Time is in extreme short supply for us: three months to start construction, which translates into 2 weeks to decide strategy, to choose and validate the CFD tools, to organize and distribute work, 2 months of design, then 15 days of work to pass from virtuality to reality. With such a short lapse of time, we quickly decide the total strategy of the project. It is necessary to limit ourselves to the essential, to follow without compromise only one main idea. The arbitrations or trade-offs, delivered in real time, must be limited to those based on our common experience, because we will have neither the time, nor the means, to undertake complementary studies and/or parallel investigations.

To try to go to essence in the balance of the boat, dynamic behavior, the control and sinking of volumes of overhangs, stability, structural stiffness and simplification, while remaining compatible with the old appendages, deck and rigging.

The very “boxy” form of "Longtze" is the consequence of these choices without any compromise.

The boat was built in Dongguan in south China, on male mold, for financial reasons but also in order to save time, adding a hundred kilos to the weight of the hull.

The trade off from the "plastic surgery" undergone by the deck and the structure to adapt them to the new hull was an additional hundred kilos on the hull.

During autumn, a new mast finally could be manufactured at Lorima, which limits the overweight of the spars to an old boom, and gave us a better sail power control than the old mast.

The bulb, going back to 2002 for an ACC of 25 tons, was re-cut to adapt to the displacement of "Longtze".

February 2007, "Longtze", the Son of the Dragon, made its first splashes in the waters of Valencia.

CHN-95 launched in the water for the first time. Valencia, 16 February 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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Friday, March 30, 2007

What is this?

Update: Apparently it was an easy one as well. It is John Buchan's brand new TP52 Glory. She was designed by Judel/Vrolijk, built in Hakes Marine in New Zealand and launched last February. We will run a feature on this newcomer to the Breitling Medcup after the end of Louis Vuitton Act 13. Concerning the 2007 Breitling Medcup, mark Friday the 13th of April on your calendars. At that day, this year's circuit will be officially presented in Alicante, city of the first event.

While here in Valencia the anticipation is rising with less than 36 hours left until all America's Cup teams show the true face of their yachts, the rest of the major yacht classes around the world are getting ready for this summer's racing action.

I once again hope this quiz isn't solve in less than an hour. Can you identify the boat? Maybe the filename of the photo can give you a hint, as well as the backdrop.

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Team Aqua and Cro-A-Sail dominate the Portoroz Cup

[Source: RC44] The team from the United Arab Emirates confirms its domination in the Portoroz Cup by winning the first Round Robin of the match racing event. With Cameron Appleton at the helm, Team Aqua (6 wins / 0 defeats) is however still under big pressure from Cro-A-Sail before RR 2.

Chris Bake's Team Aqua carries on impressing – and dominating - its competitors in the Portoroz Cup. With Cameron Appleton at the helm, the team from the UAE won its six matches of the first round robin. One point behind is Cro-A-Sail, followed by another newcomer in the RC 44 circuit: Ekipa 44. Having won – and lost – three races, the Slovenian team is on a tie with Team Beecom (JPN) and Team Omega (IRL). But they take the third spot thanks to their results in the direct confrontations. Beecom finishes fourth whilst Team Omega, with Russell Coutts at the helm, ends up in fifth.

It was a grey day today in Portoroz, with winds ranging from 5 to 12 knots and a light rain at times. But this didn’t stop the racing from being extremely intense and the show impressive. Indeed, luffing matches, crew members falling overboard and tensed situations were frequent occurrences.

Round robin 1 of the Portoroz Cup. Portoroz, 30 March 2007. Photo copyright Portoroz Cup

Following their impressive performance in the fleet race, Team Aqua is collecting the dividends from two intensive training sessions in Dubai this winter. Their good results are also due to a hugely experienced crew, led for the match races by kiwi sailor Cameron Appleton. “I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had today”, he commented. “The concept is great; this class really is a breath of fresh air in the world of sailing.”

Sailing on a new RC 44 with three new crew members, Russell Coutts and his team still need to fine tune their boat and improve their maneuvers in order to be fully competitive. They also need to keep their crew members on board, two of them having tasted the temperature of the Adriatic… Also sailing under their potential, Mascalzone Latino’s sailors haven’t managed to win a single match today. But they plan to train hard and ambition to step the ladder soon.

Tomorrow, the teams will finish round robin two before sailing more fleet races on Sunday to conclude the event. The general ranking of the Portoroz Cup will be a combination of match and fleet racing.

Round robin 1 of the Portoroz Cup. Portoroz, 30 March 2007. Photo copyright Portoroz Cup

They said:

Cameron Appleton, match race helmsman, Team Aqua:
“This was the first match race we sailed together and my first match since over a year, so we didn’t have huge expectations. Our strategy was to try to concentrate on a clean, smooth, simple sailing. Obviously, we have over-exceeded our expectations.”

Gasper Vincec, Ekipa 44:
“We haven’t had much time to practice, so we can consider ourselves happy with our result although I am not surprised: I know how good our team is. I am personally a fleet sailor but I discover match-race and I love it. I also love the RC 44 class. The boats are like dinghies to sail: they are nervous, fast & fun. At the helm, they respond immediately. I think this is much more fun than fleet racing. I am only 25 years old. Match racing is certainly a direction I will explore in the future.” (Note: Gasper Vincec is one of the world’s best Finn sailors)

Matteo Savelli, Mascalzone Latino:
“The sailing is great but our results are not up to our expectations. The crew is very young; they are my friends. But we are obviously not at the right level. We have been doing a lot of mistakes during the manoeuvres and my starts weren’t always good. Vincenzo Onorato will join us once the America’s Cup is over and we will build a more competitive crew.”

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+39 Challenge will unveil "some of their boat's secret" on Saturday

[Source: +39 Challenge] A warm sun, after nearly a whole rainy week, welcomed the +39 Challenge team members today, allowing them to work on the new mast in the open air.

The rig was also fully measured by the official AC measurers. In the sail loft the sail makers went on with the finishing on the sails delivered by North Sails Argentina and designed by Juan Garay, also present at the base.

No sailing today, but further tests are planned for tomorrow and Sunday afternoon, after the official Unveiling ceremony of all the boats participating in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Tomorrow night, Saturday, the base will be open for a very Italian “Risotto Party” during which the guests will have the opportunity to see more of +39’s secrets.

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The first 2 King Marine GP42's are on their way to Valencia

The scheduled calendar of the five KING MARINE GP 42's is advancing as planned, with the first two units having already been delivered. This joint venture between GRAND SOLEIL and Botin & Carkeek and built by KING MARINE, in their facilities in Buenos Aires, the first two units are aboard cargo ships on their way to Valencia's harbor from where they will be transfered to KING MARINE facilities in Alginet. The boat builders will then fit out the boats before their launch.

The first of the five units belongs to Pedro Campos. She left Buenos Aires on the 15th of March and is expected to arrive in Valencia during the first week of April. The second of the five new GP42s belongs to Jan Santana, was shipped yesterday and is expected to arrive in Valencia during the third week of April.

The first GP42's from King Marine are on their way to Valencia

Construction of the remaining yachts follows the predetermined schedule. The boat of Norwegian owner Peer Moberg will leave on the 15th of April to Rotterdam. The fourth boat, built for Portuguese owner Gonzalo Esteves, is scheduled to depart on the 15th of May, while the fifth delivery, for Sergio Llorca,will take place one month later.

Finally, given the interest expressed by various potential owners it is possible that the construction of additional first-generation King Marine GP42's start in the near future. Undoubtedly these boats are set to dominate the first Spanish and international racing season of this new class.

The first GP42's from King Marine are on their way to Valencia

The first GP42's from King Marine are on their way to Valencia

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Puma Racing Team third entry in Volvo Ocean Race

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] PUMA, the global sports lifestyle company, has become an exciting addition to the entry list for the 2008-09 event. Known as the PUMA Racing Team, the syndicate will be headed by Ken Read.

PUMA becomes the third confirmed entry. To date the others are from Ericsson Racing Team and the Mean Machine syndicate backed by Dutch businessman Peter de Ridder. More announcements will follow in the next few months.

“We are thrilled to announce PUMA’s entry into the Volvo Ocean Race – one of the world’s iconic sporting events,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman and CEO, PUMA AG. “The race’s global reach, lifestyle appeal and true sporting characteristics match the PUMA brand perfectly and provide PUMA with exciting new opportunities to make a strong mark in the world of sailing, on and off the water. This continues our strategy to expand into new product categories and explore the potential of the brand.”

PUMA will also be the official supplier and official licensee of replica merchandise for the race which starts in Alicante in October 2008.

Commenting on the announcement, Glenn Bourke, the Volvo Ocean Race CEO, said: “I am delighted for the Volvo Ocean Race that a company with such global gravitas as PUMA has decided to come on board.

“What I am most pleased about is that a big consumer brand sees the race as a viable mechanism for promoting its brand and showcasing its products.

“This race is hugely demanding psychologically, physically and emotionally on everybody involved in it and we are confident that our new partner PUMA has what it takes to support the sailors with high quality and innovative lifestyle products.”

Read, considered one of the world’s most accomplished sailors, has twice been involved in America’s Cup campaigns in 2000 and 2003. He was named United States Rolex Yachtsman of the Year twice and has over 40 world, North American and National Championships to his credit. Read joined Ericsson Racing Team for the last four legs of the 2005-06 race.

“Running and skippering a Volvo Ocean Race programme is a dream come true,” Read said. “I’m very proud to be part of the PUMA Racing Team and to take the lead in this new and exciting venture.

“I believe PUMA is the type of company that the sailing world needs, which can think outside the box and deliver this sport to an entirely new group of consumers. It’s going to be an incredible journey for all of us.”

On PUMA’s decision to enlist the services of Read, Bourke added: “PUMA has chosen wisely in asking Ken Read to head up the campaign. He is one of the finest sailors in the world. He has won multiple one-design sailing events – the toughest cauldron of all.

“He is an incredibly good spokesperson for the sport. He’s a sensible guy, he’s been involved in sailing for a long time, he’s seen it from the grass-roots up and he is one of those special guys who can get the race out to a broader cross section of people and he also gets the big picture. He’s very committed to the sports side, but not at the expense of the business side.”

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Paolo Cian talks to Valencia Sailing

Thursday was day off for most of the teams in Valencia and we visited the Shosholoza base to talk to Paolo Cian, helmsman of the first ever South African America's Cup challenger. Despite the calm in the rest of Port America's Cup, the South Africans were busy preparing Saturday's unveiling ceremony, allegedly full of surprises.

Valencia Sailing: Louis Vuitton Act 13 and the Louis Vuitton Cup are just around the corner. What are your expectations?
Paolo Cian: Our first goal for Louis Vuitton Act 13 is to get the extra bonus point and pass from 1 to 2. In order to assure that we have to be ranked above both +39 Challenge and Areva Challenge. Obviously, all our preparation has been focused on the Round Robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup. This has been our program since the first day of sailing in 2007 with the modified RSA-83. As you know, the boat has undergone major changes in hull shape and appendages and there has also been a massive improvement in the sail program. We are very happy with the performance of the boat, especially in the light to medium-air range. For that reason I'm confident we can earn points no only against our similar-level teams but even against the bigger ones.

Valencia Sailing: Captain Sarno has stated many times that his goal for Shosholoza is to reach the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals. Is that just a beautiful dream or a feasible target?
Paolo Cian: No, I don't think it's a dream. It is clearly related to wind conditions. The three top teams (Emirates Team NZ, BMW Oracle and Luna Rossa) have what I call a statistical advantage. They are the most reliable in the majority of conditions. But I wouldn't be surprised if one of them was beaten by a smaller team in a day with out-of-range wind conditions. If you have one or two days with wind out of your range and start losing 1 or 2 points it wouldn't be impossible to get out of the semifinals, even for a big team.

Valencia Sailing: Why should this happen only to bigger teams and not the smaller ones as well, like Shosholoza?
Paolo Cian: Of course, but there are more small teams ready to steal points in their conditions. Even if you are a strong team and get caught out of your usual range and start losing 2-3 points in ranges where smaller teams could beat you, it's not that difficult to get in trouble. As a result, I think that getting into the semifinals is a feasible goal, obviously not only for us but for Victory Challenge, Desafío Español, of course, as well as Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team and Areva Challenge. It's going to be tough though for all of us.


Paolo Cian at the helm of RSA-83 (Press play to start video)

Valencia Sailing: Concerning your performance, I have personally watched a number of your training races against other challengers and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. Should we pay any attention to these results? Do they reflect the real situation of the teams?
Paolo Cian: The teams that are on the same level normally will do their best to win a training race. I don't think either that a big team racing a smaller one would want to lose, even in training. Now if you see a big gap, maybe the bigger team pulled back in order not to increase it even further. On the other hand, if the race is close you should watch it carefully and know at what moment the leader got in front and took control. I wouldn't be surprised if the bigger teams are in control since the start of the race but even if a smaller teams starts in front, it is difficult to overtake.

Valencia Sailing: So, these results are important and reflect the conditions of a team.
Paolo Cian: Yes, but don't forget that a fresher sail of a newer-generation shape can make a difference. Teams don't always train with their best gear. In my opinion, the observer of a training race must take into account the whole picture; wind conditions, sea state, sails and the key moment of the race. If it's a split race or a controlled one since the beginning. If there is an even start and a tacking duel that keeps to the weather mark then the performance of the two boats is very similar. Every race has its own story and in order to interpret the result you need to know the whole picture.

Valencia Sailing: There is a general consensus that Shoholoza is one of the teams that improved the most in the last year or so. Is this entirely due to your and Tomaso Chieffi's arrival or has the whole team greatly improved?
Paolo Cian: There are two important factors to remember. First, if you are near the bottom of a group, you have much more room to improve considerably. When you have reached a stage of last refinements, it is very difficult to see the change, even if it exists. In addition, it is normal for a young team to improve. It is the whole team that got better and in my opinion the biggest improvement took place since the last Louis Vuitton Act, last July. For this reason we are very happy with the work on the boat, the sails and the way we sail this boat.

Valencia Sailing: Did the fact that you are now the only helmsman have also a positive effect?
Paolo Cian: That decision was taken by the whole team together with Captain Sarno. I find it similar to the decision Areva Challenge took to have Sébastien Col as their helmsman. The reason we changed the configuration of the afterguard was the departure of Dee Smith. He was the tactician and Tomaso and I took mutually agreed the most consistent decision would be for me to helm the boat, as a match racer, and for him to call tactics and focus on race management.

Paolo Cian at the helm of RSA-83. Valencia, 11 October 2006. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia Sailing: How does the modified RSA-83 feel? In what areas do you see the most improvements?
Paolo Cian: I think the boat is faster and more maneuverable. One of her weakest points in the past was maneuverability in prestart, especially at a low speed. She mainly didn't like cutting corners. Now she is much better and it is really impressive to see the difference after the modifications.

Valencia Sailing: How does she compare to the rest of the new fleet?
Paolo Cian: I think we now can rotate the boat as quick as the other teams and we can play real match race in prestart. She is now much more competitive in all conditions and prefers the light to medium range. I don't think, unless we see some big surprise in Unveiling day, that any team has pushed their design to a direction focused on strong breeze. Of course, we know that two-boat teams have in advantage in match racing.

Valencia Sailing: That was exactly going to be my question. A couple of other smaller teams have two boats. Is that a disadvantage for you?
Paolo Cian: It depends on the way you manage it. It is not easy to manage two boats and I think that probably, Victory Challenge, Desafío Español and Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team did a good job and carry out high-level in-house races. On the other hand, the relaxation of the rules allows us to carry out match races with other teams and this is very efficient because you have two A teams fighting each other, instead of an A team against a B team. In an in-house race one of the boats is always stronger in a given wind range and as their names imply one team is inherently better than the other one. All in all there is a small disadvantage in having just one boat but in our case it's not that important.

Valencia Sailing: Last but not least, which of the challengers is in your opinion the strongest?
Paolo Cian: I think that up to now, Emirates Team NZ show having the best preparation. I'm sure they worked very well during their winter training in New Zealand. BMW Oracle is also very well prepared although they were slightly slower with their first boat USA-87. They changed her dramatically, a sign they were unhappy with her performance. All the other challengers also worked hard here in Valencia but still Team New Zealand is the strongest in my view.

Valencia Sailing: Thanks a lot. I suppose I can't wish you good luck.
Paolo Cian: No! Never to an Italian!

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Big surprise on day one of the RC44 Portoroz Cup

[Source: RC44] The 2007 RC 44 racing season started today in Slovenia with the Portoroz Cup. Seven boats were on the starting line, two new teams having joined the Class during the winter: Chris Bake’s Team Aqua (UAE) and Team Ekipa 44 from Slovenia.

The first regattas consisted of three short coastal races sailed alongside the beautiful (but short – only 45 kilometers) Slovenian coast. The format was a premiere in RC 44 events, and was hugely appreciated by the teams. To spice up the game, the races started with a short double windward – leeward course, providing a great show to the spectators and a lot of fun (if not grey hairs) to the sailors.

Unsurprisingly, Cro-A-Sail, dominator of the last season, won the first regatta. However, Team Aqua’s second place was a surprise. “It was the beginner’s luck”, commented Chris Bake. Two races later, nobody believed in this statement anymore, his team having achieved two more second places and taken the overall lead of the event. “I knew that they would be a good team”, commented Tomislav Basic, the local expert and tactician onboard Cro-A-Sail. “What I didn’t know is how good they would be. Now we all know!”

The RC44 fleet rounding the mark. Portoroz, 29 March 2007. Photo copyright Portoroz Cup

The wind increased slightly for the second race, allowing a perfect and spectacular race. Team Magia, with Fabio Appolonio at the helm, took a great start and dominated the whole race. Ekipa 44, the new Slovenian team (brilliant third of the first race) was competing for the lead again but suffered from a bad mark rounding and a knot in the spinnaker, loosing precious ground and finishing sixth.

The third regatta tuned out to be a fantastic tacking dual between Team Omega (with Patrick De Barros at the helm), Cro-A-Sail and Team Aqua. Adopting a genoa in the increasing breeze (whilst its competitors chose a smaller jib), Team Omega managed to take the lead and control its opponents until the arrival, to win the race.

Team Aqua’s solid performance, and Ekipa 44’s moments of glory proved that a new team can adapt quickly to the class and get good results thanks to the Class’s strict one-design concept. The professionalism of the crews is also an important factor. Indeed, Bake sails with the kiwi pro Cameron Appleton whilst Ekipa 44 benefits from Gasper Vincec’s experience. Vincec is one of the world’s best Finn sailors. As for Chris Bake, he is a newcomer in the RC 44 class but also in competitive sailing. “I grew up in Spain and sailed with my family. But it was social sailing”, he explains. “Then I joined the University of Texas Sailing Team and began racing on J 24’s against people like Ken Read. I learnt a lot. Later on this allowed me to be involved with teams sailing in the Solent, doing Cowes week etc… But always as a crew. When I discovered the RC 44 last year, I thought this is the boat that will get me back into competitive sailing. Here we are…”

The RC44 fleet up. Portoroz, 29 March 2007. Photo copyright Portoroz Cup

Tomorrow and Saturday, the RC 44’s will sail the match race contest, with pro sailors at the helm, before concluding the fleet race and overall ranking of the event on Sunday

They said:

Chris Bake, Team Aqua:
“I was very nervous this morning; I didn’t know how I would perform… Now I am relieved. I achieved this result by focussing on the essentials. I didn’t look much around and concentrated on our performance. I was also hugely helped by our whole team, who did a great job.”

Janko Kosmina, Ekipa 44:
“We were very happy at times, but not all the time… The racing was great. The RC 44 is very interesting to sail, nervous, sensitive and demanding.” (Janko Kosmina competed in the Olympic Games in 1960 in Rome, in the Star Class. He finished 8th).

Morten Henrikson, Beecom:
“I have mixed feelings. We usually took good starts but our speed wasn’t very good. We have some trimming problems. But we’ve been working on them and we are improving race after race. We have suffered from the start of season syndrome but we will get better by the end of the week!”

Fleet Race results after day 1

Name of team, name of helmsman, result Race 1, Race 2, Race 3, Points after 3 races

1) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 2 2 2, 6
2) Cro-A-Sail Miroslav Reljanovic 1 3 3, 7
3) Team Magia Fabio Appolonio 4 1 6, 11
4) Team Omega Patrick De Barros 6 5 1, 12
5) Mascalzone Latino Giovanni Arrivabene 7 4 4, 15
6) Ekipa 44 Janko Kosmina 3 6 7, 16
7) Beecom Isao Mita 5 7 5, 17

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TEAMORIGIN™ signs World Sailor of the Year as Team Director

[Source: Team Origin] Mike Sanderson, the record-breaking ISAF World Sailor of the Year and winning skipper of the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race, has been appointed Team Director for TEAMORIGIN™, the new British America’s Cup campaign, it was announced today.

TEAMORIGIN™ is aiming to make sailing history by becoming the first British challenger ever to win the America’s Cup, the oldest sporting trophy in the world. TEAMORIGIN™ was launched earlier this year by Sir Keith Mills, the British businessman who ran London’s victorious bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The team has committed to participate in at least two America’s Cup campaigns – the 33rd and 34th editions of the event, likely to take place in 2009 and 2011.

Sanderson will have overall responsibility for TEAMORIGIN™’s performance operations, reporting directly into Sir Keith Mills. Sanderson will work with Mills to select and appoint key team members for these areas of the campaign over the coming months, so that the core performance team is in place by the end of July.

Sir Keith Mills, Team Principal of TEAMORIGIN™, said:

“As well as having extensive experience of the America’s Cup, Mike Sanderson is a proven leader and winner. Following his incredible success in the Volvo Ocean Race last year, Mike has been in much demand, so we are immensely pleased to have secured him as our Team Director, with overall responsibility for the performance on the water. Our aim is to win the America’s Cup for Britain, and to achieve this we will recruit the world’s top talent – whether they hail from Newcastle or New Zealand. We are therefore delighted that our first major appointment is the ISAF World Sailor of the Year, who has vast all-round sailing experience, advanced technical knowledge, impressive communication and leadership skills, and is one of the most respected names in world sailing.”

Sir Keith Mills and newly appointed Team Director, Mike Sanderson. London, 29 March 2007. Photo copyright Action Images / Paul Childs Livepic

Mike Sanderson said:

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have been exploring a number of interesting roles since the Volvo Ocean Race, but the chance to play a part in creating sporting history by leading the first British team to win the America’s Cup is extremely appealing. I believe we are in an enviable position in that we have a clean sheet - we have a fresh opportunity to create the team in the way that we believe is best. I have met with Sir Keith Mills a number of times over the past few months and have been hugely impressed with both him as an individual and his vision for TEAMORIGIN™. The work that has already gone on by the team behind the scenes in preparing the foundations for success is well advanced. I firmly believe TEAMORIGIN™ can win the America’s Cup and I am greatly looking forward to playing my part in it.”

Sanderson, who was recently awarded the prestigious accolade of ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for 2006 by the International Sailing Federation, has performed at the highest level in almost all forms of sailing. He has been involved in three America’s Cup campaigns, most recently as mainsheet trimmer for Oracle BMW in 2003, where his team reached the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series Finals.

His record in offshore sailing is even more impressive. He has won the Volvo Ocean Race on two occasions, and last year led TEAM ABN AMRO to one of the most emphatic victories in the history of the race, winning six out of the nine off-shore legs and five of seven in-port races. He has also broken a number of world records, including the 24 hour speed record as skipper of ABN AMRO ONE, and was skipper of Robert Miller’s Mari Cha IV, which captured the historic transatlantic monohull world speed record in October 2003.

Mike has also always been involved extensively in the technical aspects of his sailing programmes having been an integral part of the design and build teams working on the development of Mari Cha IV, both ABN AMRO boats, Pindar’s Open 60s, as well as his role in the performance/design team for Oracle BMW – this will be of enormous benefit to TEAMORIGIN™ in progressing forward their technical programme and building the right Technical team.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A dynamic new profile for the 2007 Challenge Julius Baer

The 2007 Challenge Julius Baer looks like being a gripping contest, with the arrival of two new boats and entries from many internationally famous skippers. The boats themselves are even more powerful this year as a result of increasing the area of the wings and simplifying the rules. Full information about the Challenge Julius Baer will be available on a new web site from 10 April onwards.

No fewer than ten Décision 35 catamarans will be battling it out for this season’s Challenge Julius Baer, making this series one of the world’s most competitive one-design multihull competitions.

The calendar for the 2007 season features ten races over eight weekends. The flagship events are the two Grand Prix (Grand Prix Chopard and Grand Prix Beau-Rivage Palace) and the great Lake Geneva Classics (Genève-Rolle-Genève, Bol d’Or Mirabaud and Trans CNM). The other races are no less important, since they all give competitors the opportunity to amass precious points for the final annual rankings of the Challenge Julius Baer.

Two new boats are joining the Décision 35 fleet, bringing the total to ten. The catamaran of Dona Bertarelli Späth – which will be helmed by French champion Karine Fauconnier and sailed by an all-woman crew – will be named on 10 April. Christian Michel’s new boat Smart Home will be helmed by Christophe Peclard, and Jean-Pierre Ziegert will be coordinating the project.

Ranged against them, Loïck Peyron and Nicolas Grange (Okalys) will be going for the hat-trick to crown their victories in 2005 and 2006. But they’ll have to beat Foncia, skippered by Alain Gautier, who has adapted very quickly to the Décision 35, winning the last two races of last year’s season and finishing third overall.

The Alinghi team will undoubtedly be amongst the favourites for the 2007 championship, after finishing second in the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and all the keener since their sister team is the America’s Cup Defender. Will 2007 be the year of Alinghi?

As part of improving boat performance and safety, the maximum weight limit is now 456 kilos. The female crew could be 7-strong, whilst male crews will be restricted to six.

The wings have been extended to increase boat speed and reduce the risk of pitchpoling. The result is that two or three crew can now put their weight safely behind the helm, substantially increasing boat stability.

Lastly, the rankings system has been simplified so that all races are now worth the same number of points. The final Challenge Julius Baer rankings will be arrived at by adding up the points won in each race and dropping the worst result for each competitor. The Challenge winner will be the Décision 35 with the lowest number of points at the end of the season.

The boats will be lowered onto the water at Vevey by helicopter during April. Anyone interested in viewing this spectacular event should e-mail us at: Bernard.schopfer@maxcomm.ch

Full information about the Challenge Julius Baer will be available on a new web site from 10 April. The URL remains unchanged: http://www.challengejuliusbaer.com

2007 Challenge Julius Baer:

- 12 and 13 May Grand Prix Chopard SNG
- 9 June Genève-Rolle-Genève YCG
- 16 June Bol d’Or SNG
- 30 June TransCNM CNM
- 1 July Morges-Versoix CNM / CNV
- 11 August Régate du Joran CVNy
- 12 August Open du Yacht Club YCG
- 1 and 2 September HP Cup la Réserve SNG
- 15 and 16 September Open de Versoix CNV
- 28 to 30 September GP Beau-Rivage Palace CVV

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TP52 Artemis sails in Auckland

The brand new TP52 Artemis, owned by Swedish Torbjorn Tornqvist and helmed by Russell Coutts, has been launched in Auckland and has already sailed for the first time. We don't know more details about the boat of the Kiwi sailing legend but here are the first pictures, courtesy of Blur.

First sail of TP52 Artemis, helmed by Russell Coutts. Photo copyright Blur

First sail of TP52 Artemis, helmed by Russell Coutts. Photo copyright Blur

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Vasco Vascotto talks to Valencia Sailing

It was yet another grim and rainy morning on Tuesday but our day started nicely, very early at the base of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team where we had the chance to meet with the team's skipper, Vasco Vascotto, and have an interesting discussion about the Italian Challenger.

Valencia Sailing: With official racing starting in just a week can you tell us what goals you have for the Louis Vuitton Cup?
Vasco Vascotto: It's really tough to say what are goals are. I would like to sail real nicely on the race course. First of all, what we are looking for is to show what we have learned during the last two years. If we learned enough then the results will also be good, otherwise we will have to work better next time. We are quite confident we worked hard.

Valencia Sailing: You just talked about "good results". What is your definition of "good". I can't believe you haven't quantified it.
Vasco Vascotto: It's a matter of sailing properly around the race course. It's not a matter of numbers. Sometimes you can sail bad and finish first while you can also sail quite well and finish last. Personally, I want to sail the way we are able to do it. This is the most important factor, to show all our potential not just a part of it.

Valencia Sailing: Conventional wisdom here in Valencia wants Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team to be one of the teams with serious possibilities in getting the much-coveted fourth place in the Louis Vuitton Cup round robins. Would you consider it a failure if you finished at a lower position and didn't advance to the semifinals?
Vasco Vascotto: No, I don't consider it a failure. Obviously, in this fleet of 12 teams nobody has worked hard 2 or 3 years to be last or lose the races. Neither have we, of course. But once again, I believe that it's a matter of showing our best face. That's it. If we don't do it then I will be upset because it will show we haven't learned enough. In all the interviews people will think I keep repeating myself, but this is exactly how I feel.

There are 100 people working in this team. My message to them is always that if one person in the administration department carries out their duties better than another team then we have a point in our favor. If our press department is also more performing that's another point. It's not just a matter of the sailing crew winning, it's a combination of all these people trying to do their best. Each and everyone has to show his and her best face.

ITA-90 and ITA-99 training in Valencia. Photo copyright Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team

Valencia Sailing: Shorter term, the Louis Vuitton Act 13 begins in exactly one week. Do you have a specific target for the fleet race? How important is it for your team?
Vasco Vascotto: I think that all teams are still in a learning process, testing their new boats. For us as well, it will help us see where we are with our boat, our speed and the new things we are trying. There will be a lot of things to discover for us. As far as the Challenger Ranking is concerned, it will be very difficult to earn an additional bonus point since Desafío Español is 12 points ahead of us. It will also be very difficult to lose a bonus point since in our turn we are quite ahead of the three teams behind us. Nevertheless, we will have to work hard and still learn a few things before the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Valencia Sailing: Have you decided what boat you will use in Louis Vuitton Act 13?
Vasco Vascotto: No, not yet. We are sailing with our two boats right now and we are happy with both.

Valencia Sailing: That was going to be my question. How do you feel with the two boats, ITA-90 and ITA-99?
Vasco Vascotto: I'm quite confident we have worked correctly in this direction and have considerably improved all the aspects of the boats, such as construction, sails or appendages. This work is reflected in the results in our training races during the last two months and this is why people consider us a serious candidate for the fourth place. I think this America's Cup will be really close for everybody and I'm happy to be in the group of boats considered by people to be fast.

Valencia Sailing: Have you reached the desired level of the two boats?
Vasco Vascotto: For me and for the vast majority of the team members this is the first experience in the America's Cup. Every day we learn something new. Obviously, we haven't reached the peak performance of the boats but every day we are discovering something new. The first priority now is to collect all the positive out of this and Act 13 will be part of the process to decide what boat to use in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Valencia Sailing: You have been sailing against other teams during the last two months, yesterday I saw you racing Areva Challenge. Do you feel confident when you compare yourselves to the rest of the challengers?
Vasco Vascotto: Honestly, the only question mark I have at this stage is the Chinese team because nobody has sailed against their new boat. All the other teams have won and lost races. All the boats and all the crews on the water have the potential to win races. As a result, we feel confident because in the last two months we have been able to win 85% of the races but I obviously can't give you more details. As you understand, it is an excellent result.

ITA-90 and ITA-99 training in Valencia. Photo copyright Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team

Valencia Sailing: Do you give your best in these training races or do you try to hold back and not reveal too much, especially against Desafío Español, Victory Challenge, Areva or Shosholoza?
Vasco Vascotto: I believe everybody gives their best. Nobody wants to lose even if they are not official races. I get really angry when I lose a simple game of cards with my friends, imagine losing an America's Cup training race. When you go out sailing you always try to give your best. Sometimes a team might be trying new material or ideas and that could be the only reason why they would intentionally hold back. In this competition, every single hour counts and nobody would waste their time on the water amusing themselves. Otherwise they'd better stay at home.

Valencia Sailing: Which of the challengers do you fear the most?
Vasco Vascotto: In my personal opinion, Emirates Team New Zealand is the best challenger. They are the ones with the best organization, teamwork, experience and results. Nevertheless, at this stage, anybody could beat any of the other teams on a given day. I'm sure we will see many surprises in the next few months.

Valencia Sailing: But then, last year we hardly had any surprises. Why should we have them this year?
Vasco Vascotto: It's true but don't forget that in the last Louis Vuitton Act 12, just 3 or 4 teams had a new boat. This time all teams have new boats, I could consider that even Shosholoza's RSA-83 is a new one. Right now, all teams have the opportunity to win a race. It's not like the previous America's Cup where you could see differences of 3 minutes in one race. This time differences will be less than 1 minute. I hope so....

Valencia Sailing: My final question concerns the most important factor in sailing, the weather in general and the wind in particular. It has been quite volatile lately. Do you think it could play a tricky game in next week's races?
Vasco Vascotto: Concerning the weather let me first point out one thing. We are very happy to have stayed in Valencia this winter since we enjoyed excellent conditions. We have been able to sail 90% of the time, 4-5 times per week. You can't really train more than 5 times a week for a long period, the crew will get exhausted. Obviously, we are a small team and we couldn't have afforded to move the base and the boats to Dubai, Auckland or another place. We have an excellent base here with everything we need. In that sense we have been lucky because as you remember 12 months ago the winter was more difficult.

Regarding your question, anything could happen of course in spring but I think that by late April it will be much warmer here. Don't forget that the seabreeze is created by the difference between the cold water and the warmer land. Right now the sea is very cold. All we need is a couple of really warm days and a nice breeze will build up. Don't forget that in February we had a week where the air temperature almost hit 30 degrees. Such temperatures will return quite soon. I have sailed many times in Valencia during the last ten years and know the situation quite well.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Meanwhile in Valencia... it's rainy, windy and very cold

After a long marathon that lasted more than 3 years, the America's Cup in Valencia has reached what could be the last kilometer. The stadium can be seen but the last hundreds of meters and the laps inside it will be tough and will need great effort and sweat. This must be the situation the challengers are facing right now and all of them (with the exception of Emirates Team NZ) together with the defender went training today in an unusually rainy, cold and windy day.

Thirteen degrees centigrade in late March could be business as usual for our Danish or Swedish readers but here in Valencia it's damn cold. Still, it's not the low temperatures that could make sailors worry but the volatility in weather conditions, although after all it's spring and such abrupt changes are to be expected. Paul Cayard's words that "to get to June, you have to survive April and May", are being verified. It will be very interesting to see what kind of weather next week will bring.

Commenting on the individual teams, the base of Emirates Team New Zealand was the only one with no apparent sign of activity. According to what Grant Dalton, the team's general manager, stated in various press interviews, the six-day holiday ends tomorrow Tuesday. On the race courses, there was lots of intensive races between the various teams and most of the action, surprisingly, took place fairly close to the beach.

Alinghi's SUI-91 being towed out of Port America's Cup for training with SUI-100. Valencia, 26 March 2007. Photo copyright, Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi's SUI-100 being towed out of Port America's Cup for training with SUI-91. Valencia, 26 March 2007. Photo copyright, Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Time for some stretching aboard China Team's Longtze on their way out of the canal. Valencia, 26 March 2007. Photo copyright, Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

ESP-97 of Desafío Español towed out of the canal. Valencia, 26 March 2007. Photo copyright, Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

ITA-99 of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team towed out of the canal. Valencia, 26 March 2007. Photo copyright, Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

GER-89 of United Internet Team Germany towed out of the canal. Valencia, 26 March 2007. Photo copyright, Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi prepare for an in-house race with SUI-100 and SUI-91 while in the background Areva Challenge on FRA-93 is racing against Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team on ITA-99. Our apologies for the quality of the picture but it was taken from the beach. Valencia, 26 March 2007. Photo copyright, Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Frank Pong talks about the America's Cup

[Source: China Team] Frank Pong, a well-known sailor in Asia, former commodore of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, owner-skipper of offshore sailboats and Honorary Chairman of China Team has arrived in Valencia where he has installed himself for the duration of the Cup. An interview with a passionate person, with a sparkling glance, always changing … especially when the subject is about sailing adventures and boats!

You have just arrived in Valencia, what are your impressions?
First of all I was surprised by the weather here. It was pleasant and a very clear sky… but after a day here, I saw there was a price to pay. It is the dust. It is an orange dust, which infiltrates everything. Then I came to the America’s Cup village. It is the first time I have seen the site. It is truly a fantastic area, with beautiful infrastructures; the bases perfect in order to work, each one having its small personal touch. The China Team base seemed spectacular to me, simple but fabricated with beautiful materials.

It is the first time you have been on Longtze…
Yes and the first time I have seen a America’s Cup Class. What struck me is that it seemed small…

Small?
Yes in a certain way, above all being narrow with respect to Maxis that I am used to helming, but very stable on the other hand.

You have arrived for a certain duration in Valencia, what are your plans?
I have taken the month of March, April, and May to live within the team, I have planned to stay as long as we are in the game and that there will be something to do.

When you see the big teams around, what is it that inspires you?
That is a good question because a couple of days ago, a well-known sailor of the Cup, said that there were 5 or 6 small teams present here who should retire "gracefully". When I read that, I was very disappointed and when I arrived, I saw that the comment was perfectly out of place. Because the America’s Cup is a business or more exactly show business. And in show business you have the stars but for there truly to be a "show" you need the "supporting cast". If not, it isn't a spectacle. It is the same in the Formula 1. In the world there are three big teams, which are Ferrari, Renault, and Mc Laren. Do you think you can have a Grand Prix with only three big teams? Think about all the small teams, which make up a grand prix and that should retire with grace…. At least they allow the big teams to shine…

I would like to add something more, which seems important to me. For me, a true champion is not only someone who wins; it is also someone who should have a certain "grace". A great sailor who makes these types of comments for me is not the champion he is made out to be.

Any specific words about the China Team?
Yes I have something important to say about the team. China Team is the only team that trains onboard, the young sailors of the country it represents. On board, there are young upcoming Chinese sailors of the future. And who knows if in one or two America’s Cup editions China Team won’t be one of the three big teams.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

TP52 teams start training in Spain


After several months of tough negotiations, mainly over financial issues, it seems that the 2007 Breitling Medcup calendar has now been finalized. The first event will take place in Alicante from June 12 to 17 and according to the circuit's organization there will be some 25 teams present at the starting line. Although no official announcement has been made yet, some of the season's novelties will be the Swedish Torbjorn Tornquist’s "Artemis", lead by America’s Cup legend Russell Coutts, "Valars", the second Russian team as well as Alberto Roemmers' entry in the TP52 class with "Matador". Here is a preliminary list of the teams in the 2007 Breitling Medcup circuit:


In view of the 2007 season, some of the teams have already started training in Spain. The Austrian C-Quadrat Astro has chosen Palma in the island of Mallorca where they have been training since mid February. Although not part of the Breitling Medcup, the 2007 Palmavela will be the first trial for the 2007 TP52 season. In addition to the Austrian team, an additional 7 boats (Anónimo, Mean Machine, Platoon, Cristabella, Stay Calm, Bigamist VI and Aifós) will race in the bay of Palma from the 18th till the 22nd of April.

C-Quadrat Astro carrying out their preparatory training sessions in view of the 2007 Breitling Medcup. Palma de Mallorca, 20 March 2007. Photo copyright C-Quadrat Astro

C-Quadrat Astro carrying out their preparatory training sessions in view of the 2007 Breitling Medcup. Palma de Mallorca, 20 March 2007. Photo copyright C-Quadrat Astro

C-Quadrat Astro carrying out their preparatory training sessions in view of the 2007 Breitling Medcup. Palma de Mallorca, 20 March 2007. Photo copyright C-Quadrat Astro

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Shosholoza's RSA-83 to go naked one day earlier than others

[Source: Team Shosholoza] South Africa's Team Shosholoza can't wait to share its secrets. RSA 83's skirt will be dropped a day ahead of the official America's Cup unveiling ceremony at a function at the Team Shosholoza base on Saturday 31 March 2007. And the team's new design innovations will only be one of the many surprises Africa's maiden America's Cup team has in store for guests.

"We are going to surprise the whole sailing world", says Captain Salvatore Sarno, founder and managing director of Team Shosholoza. "We are going to show you the fascinating world of South Africa. As you know, we have always wanted to present the new face of our young country in Europe. So this is another great opportunity for us to do so."

The unveiling of the America's Cup youngest participant promises to really get people talking. It will also be a unique opportunity to enjoy the fascinating diversity of South Africa and share her typical African spirit which projects the very Soul of Sailing!

Shosholoza's RSA-83 preparing for the "French-South African Games". Valencia, 9 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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Rumors in the America's Cup

Planted stories, rumours and misinformation are part of the America’s Cup. This is what Peter Lester, world-renowned America's Cup commentator from New Zealand, wrote last Saturday in a column in the New Zealand Herald. There is an ongoing rumor in Valencia and around the internet about an alleged structural damage on NZL-92, the newest yacht of America's Cup challenger Emirates Team New Zealand.

The kiwi team has obviously denied having suffered any damage whatsoever and we have shot pictures of NZL-92 being towed out of Port America's Cup a couple of days after the alleged incident. When everybody thought the matter was closed, the rumor resurfaced with a fantasy picture, allegedly taken by some other team (respecting the 200-meter rule) the moment the New Zealand boat broke. Just like dozens of other people here in Valencia we received earlier today the now-famous photo.

This is supposed to be a picture taken by somebody in the race course the moment NZL-92 broke around 2 weeks ago. This can obviously be any picture of the team training, scaled down and then digitally altered.

It looks more like a bad joke rather than a genuine photo of the supposed incident. Obviously, what strikes first is why would anyone take a black and white photo when even elementary mobile phones have better image quality!!

The reason we publish this photo is to show that psychology plays a very important role in the America's Cup and there are people that would go to such lengths as produce such a crappy picture, hoping to influence the other teams. Of course, it could be some form of reverse-psychology maneuvers by the New Zealanders themselves!!

In exactly nine days we'll know the truth.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Identify the boats

We received a great number of replies and the first correct one came considerably fast, one hour after posting the quiz, from a reader in Copenhagen. Here are the correct sailnumbers of the boats, in the order they appear from the top: USA-87 (BMW Oracle), ITA-86 (Luna Rossa), FRA-93 (Areva Challenge), ITA-94 (Luna Rossa), ESP-97 (Desafío Español) and USA-98 (BMW Oracle).

So far our quizzes have been limited to some obscure parts of a racing boat. Today we focus on the big picture and our test will consist of identifying 6 America's Cup yachts being towed out of Port America's Cup. All photos were taken today Thursday while the boats were on their way out to another day of training, taking advantage of the considerably good wind conditions so far. Some might be obvious while others, hopefully, not so.

The first person to correctly identify all boats will receive a surprise gift from Valencia Sailing. As a result and in order to be able to reach you, please send your replies by email. Don't leave an anonymous comment at the bottom of the article since we will not know who you are.

Speaking of wind conditions, Paul Cayard's comment this morning on his website is very revelatory: One thing I think could throw a curve ball at some teams is the weather in April. April is still definitely spring and the previous racing in Valencia has never started this early. February was 15-20 knots 75% of the time. Most teams have designed their boats for 9-14 knots which is expected in June. But to get to June, you have to survive April and May. The competition is going to be tough. I think there will be a number of "upsets". All this will mix up the results a bit more than expected and create some anxiety for the teams that are "supposed" to be there in May.

It will be fast and furious for six teams; the regatta will be a three week event for them. You only have to look at that reality to become extremely motivated.


Valencia, 22 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia, 22 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia, 22 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia, 22 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia, 22 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia, 22 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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The RC 44 championship tour is announced.

The RC 44 Class Association introduces an innovative sailing tour for its members. Eight events will make up the 2007 championship with the first regatta scheduled in Portoroz, between March 29 - April 1.

The RC 44 Class moves into a new dimension for its second year of existence, and announces the 2007 RC 44 championship tour.

The 2007 circuit will consist of eight events held in Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates. The RC 44 regattas include an exciting combination of fleet racing (owner driver rule) and match racing (no helmsman limitation), with two rankings and one overall result. Other features such as direct umpiring for the fleet races, leeward gates during the fleet and match racing series and short courses mixed with some short coastal racing will enhance the level of the competition.

“We want to provide a variety of formats and deliver value to our owners and partners,” comments class manager Julien Di Biase. “We have negotiated a formal agreement with all the venues, in order to deliver the best value to the teams. As a consequence, the Class is able to provide many benefits to its members including free travel lift or crane, dock space and storage, builders and suppliers active assistance, discounted rates for hotels and there are no entry fees to the regattas. During the races, invited guests or media can ride on the boats and enjoy the racing from a unique perspective.”

Seven teams coming out of six nations will start in the Portoroz regatta. The RC 44 is a high performance, strict one design racer created for level racing under tightly controlled Class Rules. Twelve boats have been built to date and there are two licensed building facilities, Pauger Carbon in Budapest and V1 Technologies Dubai.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

United Internet Team Germany to focus training with other challengers

[Source: United Internet Team Germany] The tension in the Port America’s Cup in Valencia is building: In only two weeks Louis Vuitton Act 13 starts. Until then all teams have to train intensively to be prepared for the last pre-race before the official start of the Louis Vuitton Cup – so does the United Internet Team Germany: “We have eleven sailing days ahead of us and we want to seize every one of it”, says Lutz Patrunky.

+39 Challenge will be one of the opponents for the German team during training in the last two weeks before Act 13

The coach of the German team is responsible for the organization of the training within the team. “I will try to arrange as many practice races against the other teams as possible. This is the best possibility for training manoeuvres, tactics and boat speed. There won’t be very much training between GER 89 and GER 72 anymore”, says Lutz Patrunky.

In every training regatta the crew is giving everything to be prepared best for Act 13. In the pre-races Cup Defender Alinghi will meet the eleven Challenger teams for the last time. All twelve teams will be racing in seven fleet races.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Desafío Español christen (and almost unveil) ESP-97

Today's main event in Valencia was undoubtedly the christening of ESP-97, Desafío Español's newest yacht. As we mentioned yesterday, we were expecting a rather symbolic and ceremonial event, given the fact the yacht had already been sailing and training together with ESP-88 for more than two months. Dozens of photographers and TV cameras were at the Spanish base not only because it is after all the yacht that will defend the Spanish colors but mainly due to her royal godmother, her majesty the Queen of Spain.

Still, we were offered a great surprise. The Spanish team decided to uncover most of the yacht and leave covered the bulb, while the keel was simply behind a shroud with the logo of the new sponsor and no big efforts were made to hide it. It really doesn't make too much sense to keep hiding the hulls since in any case they will have to completely uncover the boats in ten days. The first impressions are of a boat square at the back with a lot of volume just aft of the middle.

The ceremony itself was rather simple and quick. After the usual self congratulatory speeches by the team's director, Agustín Zulueta, and various political representatives, the Queen cut a Spanish ribbon that in turn caused the usual champagne bottle to splash on the yacht's bow. Moments after the family photo, the team's shore crew was already busy moving the newly christened yacht and her sistership ESP-88 back to the safety of their sheds.

Valencia and the rest of Spain are being battered by severe weather, with snowfall just 50km west of Port America's Cup and winds up to 40 knots in the race courses. To the best of our knowledge no team took the risk to train on Tuesday and it is highly unlikely they do for the following two days.

ESP-97 of Desafío Español. Valencia, 20 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

ESP-97 of Desafío Español. Valencia, 20 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

ESP-97 of Desafío Español. Valencia, 20 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

ESP-97 of Desafío Español is now officially presented. Valencia, 20 March 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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