Fresh conditions put ACC boats to the test in Marseille yesterday.

 Le Defi sailed for the first time ahead of the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act, the opening races of the 32nd America’s Cup. With the French team sailing on Thursday, the full six-boat fleet was out on the Rade Sud. The Le Defi team, which has competed in the past two Louis Vuitton Cups, is currently entered in all three Acts this year but is not yet a fully fledged Challenger for 2007.

It was a day of perfect conditions on the Rade Sud, with winds of 15-18 knots; the stronger gusts over 20 knots at the higher end of the spectrum for these boats. The heavier conditions stretched the limits of the crews and equipment, with Team Alinghi suffering a spinnaker blowout during some close manoeuvres with Emirates Team New Zealand. Elsewhere on the Rade Sud, K-Challenge and the Shosholoza Team went through some practice starts, while BMW Oracle and Le Defi trained on their own.

The Race Committee for the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act will set a full race course on Friday afternoon, and run through a starting sequence. Each of the teams is invited to take part in the practice race as final preparation for the first day of racing on Sunday.

On Saturday, the fleet will parade into the Vieux Port in Marseille in the opening ceremony of Act 1 of the 32nd America’s Cup.

At the end of the day on Thursday, the event organisers held a mass boat christening, blessing and naming the 18 new support boats that will be used by the Race Committee, Umpires, and media during the 32nd America’s Cup.