On the eve of the ACC venue announcement Matthew Sheahan reports from Geneva and considers where the party might be

So where will the America’s Cup, or the Match as it is to be known, be raced in 2007?

With just hours to go before the announcement, the only real certainty is that no-one really knows. Sure there are those who think that Valencia is the favourite, citing a stack of rumours and web stories to justify their view. But look more closely at the supposed evidence and it’s hardly compelling. A slipped quote here, a nod there and a tip from someone in the know – none of it’s the kind of intelligence you’d put money on.

From talk of crime ridden cities to inappropriate behaviour during the bidding process and strikes by the locals, there’s plenty of gossip to undermine each of the cities’ bids.

A rumour I heard the other day was that one journalist was so convinced they knew where the venue would be, that they had booked their flight back from the venue city instead of catching the official chartered plane back to Switzerland. But what’s to say they haven’t booked four singles from four different airports?

For what it’s worth, having talked to a range of people who’ve sailed in the various locations and having flopped around in the Med off Barcelona myself just a couple of weeks ago, choosing a Mediterranean venue would seem to fly against the original goal that was laid down the shortly after the Cup was won. After the long delays in Auckland, consistent and predictable weather conditions needed to be at the heart of the search for the next venue.

Running a series of races to a schedule increases the chances of getting TV involved. If TV will commit, then there’s a better chance of sponsors following suit. And where the sponsors go the teams will follow.

On this basis alone surely Lisbon in Portugal would win? Believed by many to have the most consistent wind conditions of the four would seem to put them more than a nose ahead. Furthermore the Portugese authorities have stated that an America’s Cup challenge would not come from this country either, making them truly independent, another possible plus point.

But life is rarely that simple and having witnessed the scale of the America’s Cup circus at first hand myself I can vouch for the number of issues that come into play when the full breadth of the event is considered.

From the accessibility of the race course, to the physical space available for teams to build their bases. From transport links to high speed data communications, even just the issue of housing the thousands of people involved, each plays its part in contributing to the final decision. The America’s Cup is as complicated as it’s ever been and still manages to get people talking.

With just a few hours to go it’s clear that selecting the venue is just like the real thing and surrounded by chit chat and conjecture. It’s like reveal day all over again and for one of the four cities there will no doubt be a Hula too.

More news as it happens.