With one Act in the bag, Act 2 is about to start in the new home of the America's Cup as Valencia plays host for the first time

 Just a few weeks before in Marseille, the combination of match racing and fleet racing, along with the more open style ashore for the viewing public, made for an America’s Cup series unlike any other. Now it’s time for the new home of the America’s Cup to demonstrate whether it too can host an event that will capture the public’s attention.

As the show in Valencia prepares to open, there’s clearly been a mountain of effort put into staging the event. While there are still a few areas of ‘work in progress’ around the basin that will stage the shoreside activities, the overall feeling is that the Cup is about to move onto another level once again.

Racing starts tomorrow (Tuesday 5 Oct) and sees two more teams joining the event to make a total of eight. Of the two newcomers, Luna Rossa need no introduction and aim to start where they left off last time, albeit against the top team of the moment, BMW Oracle.

For the plus39 team, their first race will see them in a baptism of fire as they go head to head with the Cup holders Alnghi. A ‘faits accomplis’ you may think. The Italians might have four Olympic medallists in their team including British sailor Iain Percy, but Alinghi have six plus the Auld mug itself. Even so, at this morning’s press conference Brad Butterworth appeared to make a slip of the tongue as he talked about how he saw the next two weeks of racing.

Talking about the boat he said, “Hopefully it will stay in one??[pause]?..spot.”

Have the Swiss been modifying their boat? Is the legendary tough SUI-64 a more fragile beast for the lighter winds, or was he simply referring to the destructive storm that swept through Marseille at the end of Act 1 laying the Cup winner flat in the process?

If she is a more fragile machine, the forecast for the next few days doesn’t look like pushing the fleet in the same way that it did in Marseille. Light winds developing from the sea breeze that this area is well known for look set to dominate the early stages of the competition.

A less dramatic start to the event would no doubt suit some of the other teams, not least Emirates Team New Zealand who have burned the candle at both ends to be here after NZL-82 was too badly damaged in Marseille to be repaired in time for Act 2. A gentle wind up to the series would be more welcome than the big blast that greeted them in Marseille.

“For a while it was pretty unlikely that we would be able to compete here,” said helmsman Dean Barker. “But after a lot of hard work by Grant Dalton and the shore crew in New Zealand to get NZL 81 ready, and then the assistance we got from ACM which allowed us to be here, it’s been all hands on deck to get the boat ready?and it’s great to actually get out on the water and be out sailing. From the sailing team’s perspective it’s just great we’ll be able to race.”

One other piece of news that emerged over the weekend was not of the boats, but of the budget. In order to fulfil a commitment in the Protocol, AC Management had to publish its accounts for the period ending 30 June 2004. Within this report the total budgeted revenues for the event are forecast at 210 million Euros. Set against the last Cup event when the budget was believed to be in the order of 20 million Euros and the hike in cost that many predicted seems to have been born out. Or is it simply that the Cup event is really is going through it’s biggest transformation? Act 2 should provide some of the answers.


Tuesday 5th October – The first start is scheduled for 13:40

Flight 1

Match 1 ITA 74 Luna Rossa v USA 71 BMW Oracle

Match 2 ITA 59 39 v SUI 64 Alinghi

Match 3 FRA 69 Le Defi v FRA 57 K-Challenge

Match 4 NZL 81 Emirates Team New Zealand v RSA 48 Team Shosholoza

Flight 2

Match 1 FRA 69 Le Defi v RSA 48 Team Shosholoza

Match 2 ITA 74 Luna Rossa v SUI 64 Alinghi

Match 3 ITA 59 39 v USA 71 BMW Oracle

Match 4 FRA 57 K-Challenge v NZL 81 Emirates Team New Zealand