Monday, September 15, 2008

Regatta series planned for Auckland harbour

[Source: Emirates Team New Zealand] Louis Vuitton announced today an international match-racing series to be sailed in Auckland in January-February next year.

To be called the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, the regatta is being held in association with the New Zealand Government, Auckland Agencies, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, SKYCITY Entertainment Group and Emirates Team New Zealand.

All sailing teams that participated in Louis Vuitton Cup regattas in the past have been invited to compete in the Auckland regatta from January 31 – February 14 2009. Organisers expect six teams will compete. Louis Vuitton will accept competing syndicates on a “first come, first served” basis.

Races will be sailed in Emirates Team New Zealand yachts.

The boats have very similar performance. Some configuration changes will be made to ensure even racing.

Three races are planned every day on a two-mile windward-leeward course laid on Waitemata Harbour between Rangitoto Island and Orakei wharf.

Spectators will have grandstand views of the racing from North Head and Bastion Point.

The race committee will be appointed by the RNZYS with the Squadron members providing on-the-water support. A large number of volunteers will be needed on the water to man the committee boat, lay marks and act as course marshals for spectator boat control.

A Louis Vuitton spokesman Bruno Trouble said: “The Auckland event is neither competing with the America‘s Cup, nor part of the next America’s Cup process. The Louis Vuitton Cup, won by the top challenging syndicate since 1983 will not be at stake. A Louis Vuitton trophy will be created especially for the regatta.

“We still have a lot of work to do before the racing format is finalised and the infrastructure is in place.”

Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton said the team’s role, apart from preparing the yachts for racing, is only that of a competitor.

“The sailing team welcomes the opportunity to get back on the water as a complete unit against some top opposition.

“The regatta will be a big event for Auckland. The action will take place over three weekends to give Aucklanders a chance to see the big boats and top teams fight it out.

He said ETNZ would do everything it could to make the yachts totally competitive. “We know the yachts’ relative performance very well and even though they’re close, we know what can to be done to make them even more so.

“The organisers are looking at having a daily draw to decide which yacht the teams will sail that day. Over the course of the regatta they should all race both boats.”

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Commodore Scott Colebrook welcomed Louis Vuitton’s initiative. “The RNZYS is looking forward to having Louis Vuitton back in Auckland and the Squadron will do everything it can to ensure the series is a success.

“Planning for the on-water operations has already commenced. The concept is excellent, the sailing venue is ideal and we eagerly anticipate hosting some great sailing.

"Auckland can expect some exciting match racing close inshore by some of the best sailing teams in the world.”

Prime Minister Helen Clark said: "Congratulations to Louis Vuitton and Emirates Team New Zealand for organising this exciting international yachting event. New Zealand is very pleased to be hosting this regatta and Auckland with its beautiful harbour and vibrant inner city will put on a fantastic show for yachting fans and tourists."

Mayor of Auckland John Banks says this high calibre event will be another opportunity to showcase the city to the world.

"We want this to be an event that not only establishes Auckland as a desirable major events destination, but also provides three weekends of great entertainment for Aucklanders."

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