Andrew Bray reports from New Zealand

 Auckland Diary, 30 September Andrew Bray reports from New Zealand

With the Louis Vuitton action, ashore for the last few days, due to go afloat tomorrow 1 October for the opening salvoes in the 2003 America’s Cup, here are a few facts to put this event in perspective in relation to other sporting events.

· New Zealand has a population of 3.7 million (and 70 million sheep) and 5% of the population take part in yachting and recreational sailing. The 2000 America’s Cup series generated $NZ640 million for the country’s economy.

· The 2000 series generated 1,948 hours of TV coverage, 56,000 newspaper and magazine articles and 630 million Internet hits

· The Hauraki Gulf, where racing takes place, has 47 islands and more than 200 anchorages – just compare that with the UK’s Solent.

· The 9 syndicates challenging for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the defending Team New Zealand have built 19 new boats between them for the series. The only team with a single new boat is the Italian Mascalzone Latino.

· A total of 914 shore and sailing crew are employed by the 10 competing syndicates. The largest team is Oracle BMW racing with 150, the smallest Team Dennis Conner with 60.

· The total spend of all 10 participating syndicates is $US 554 million. Biggest spenders are Alinghi Swiss Challenge and Oracle Racing ($US 90 million each), smallest Mascalzone Latino with a mere $US20 million.

· By the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup 400 media accreditations had been issued with 2,000 expected by the end of the whole event. The LV Media Centre (pictured) is a state of the art multimedia centre based in the heart of the city of Auckland in the National Maritime Museum.

Tomorrow we go racing.