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America's Cup Action

Fever pitch

For the first time in over 150 years the America’s Cup has been brought to Europe as Team Alinghi defend their title. As the action reaches fever pitch in Valencia in the lead up to the grand finale of the 32nd America’s Cup in July 2007, Yacht Vacations & Charters look at the story so far.

The America’s Cup is said to be not only the oldest trophy in sport but also the most difficult to win.  With a rich heritage and tradition dating back to 1851, it is 45 years older than the first modern Olympic Games. In over 150 years only three nations other than the United States have won the challenge, named after the winning schooner America.

In March 2003, Team Alinghi made history by defeating Team New Zealand to win the America’s Cup and bring it back to Europe for the first time in 152 years. The deadline to challenge the 32nd America’s Cup was April 29th 2005, by which time 12 challengers from 10 countries had submitted formal entries. To choose the challenger for the 2007 America’s Cup championship, the Louis Vuitton Cup was created with several races, called Acts. To date the gap between each Challenge has been as long as five years, so in an effort to make America’s Cup racing a more regular feature on the sailing calendar, the 32nd America’s Cup season preliminary Acts have been developed to ensure there is America’s Cup competition each year leading up to this year’s 7 Match Race, allowing the teams to measure themselves alongside their competitors at each event, and attracting fans worldwide.

The four-year schedule of regattas commenced in 2004 with a mixture of fleet and match races in a variety of venues. Each successive match has taken on increasing importance as the Match Race draws nearer, providing a ranking tool for the early rounds of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

The teams of the 32nd America’s Cup are composed of not only the best sailors, but also a team of designers, sail makers, nautical engineers and boat builders from around the world. BMW Oracle Racing was accepted as the first Challenger of Record in 2003, followed in short order by the Italian +39 team, Team Shosholoza from South Africa, and Emirates Team New Zealand. Luna Rossa and K-Challenge, and Le Defi became Challengers before the opening Act in Marseille. Act 1, the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act consisted of six teams from five nations, including Team Alinghi. The eventual winner was BMW Oracle. The two Italian teams joined the racing in Acts 2 and 3, with Luna Rossa and +39 Challenge getting their first taste of the action in Valencia. Dominated by Emirates Team New Zealand, Act 2 saw Team Alinghi fall out of the top three. Act 3 brought them back into position, but it was Emirates Team New Zealand who won the overall ACC Season Championship for 2004, followed by BMW Oracle, Team Alinghi and Luna Rossa.

Two more teams, the Spanish El Reto team and Sweden’s Victory Challenge, joined the challenge before the first challenge deadline in December 2004, joining the battle for the right to face the Defender Team Alinghi in the final America’s Cup Match. And just before the final Challenge deadline of 29th April 2005, a third Italian challenger was accepted, Capitalia Team, and United Internet Team Germany and Team China. The 32nd America’s Cup has now become the most diverse in history with 12 teams from 10 countries and five continents competing in Acts held in three countries – Sicily, Malmo and Valencia.

To date 12 Acts have been raced, and the challengers have earnt more ranking points as the regatta has progressed. The Louis Vuitton Ranking Summary Board, for Challengers only, to date holds Emirates Team New Zealand in first position, followed by BMW Oracle Racing, Luna Rossa Challenge, Desafio Espanol 2007, Capitalia Team, Victory Challenge. +39 Challenge  and Aerva Challenge in joint 7th position, Team Shosholoza, United Internet Team Germany, and China Team in final position.

Although Team Alinghi is not included in the Louis Vuitton Ranking, she is eligible as the Defender, to compete for the ACC Championship, a prize awarded to the best performer across the Acts sailed each year in the run up to this year. Emirates New Zealand have won this prize for both 2004 and 2006, but in 2005 the award was given to Team Alinghi. The final Louis Vuitton Act will be held in Valencia from the 3rd – 7th April. This final Act will determine the final rankings for racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger race which begins on the 18th April 2007 with 17 days of Round Robin racing, 9 days of semi finals and 9 days  of racing in the final. And finally, from the 23rd June 2007, the America’s Cup Match will be a set of four Match races over 9 days to determine the holder of the 32nd America’s Cup. 

More Stories By Paula Farquharson

Paula Farquharson is an editor of The Riviera Times newspaper. Originally
from Ireland, she worked in New York and is now based in Nice, France,
where she learned to sail.

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