Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing teams are preparing for the start of today's match racing Moet Cup event in San Francisco

America’s Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli and his Alinghi squad, and Larry Ellison with his Oracle BMW Racing team are preparing for the start of today’s match racing Moet Cup event in San Francisco.

The first race of the seven-race Pro-Driver series kicks off this afternoon and professional skippers Jochen Schuemann, Alinghi, and Chris Dickson, Oracle BMW Racing, will lead their teams into battle on San Francisco Bay.

To guarantee close, action-packed racing, the courses will be kept short, near the shoreline in full view of spectators.

Just before the first race, Larry Ellison, Oracle BMW Racing, spoke about his team’s prospects: “I think we’ve improved our crew a lot in terms of being more competitive. There’s no question that Alinghi is the best sailing team in the world. It’s very generous of Ernesto to bring his America’s Cup team to SF to race us on our home water. This has never happened before. I did promise to bring the America’s Cup back to San Francisco and Ernesto is very kind to help me keep my promise!”

Ernesto Bertarelli responsed: “It looks like a bit of a set-up frankly! Larry’s a good friend of mine and we’ve been working together at shaping up the next Cup. I was visiting here on business and I decided to stop over and talk to him about the little regatta that we were thinking of organising. I was really thinking that we were going to have a little bit of fun, and sail by ourselves, and see how it goes. But suddenly I find myself in front of 150 journalists and he’s been practicing for three months with new sails!

“No, really, I think it’s going to be very exciting and a lot of fun.”