BMW Oracle Racing today became the first America's Cup team to start a 2005 full-scale two-boat testing programme on the Mediterranean

BMW Oracle Racing today became the first America’s Cup team to start a 2005 full-scale two-boat testing programme on the Mediterranean waters off the coast of Valencia, Spain, site of the 32nd America’s Cup. The Challenger of Record launched their ‘turbo-charged’ Version 5 boats, USA-71 and USA-76, in Valencia last week for structural tests and instrument calibration in preparation for the start of its two-boat sailing season today from the Real Club Nautico.

BMW Oracle Racing, returning to Valencia for its second year of full-time sailing operations, is embarking on three months of training and testing in the lead-up to the next Louis Vuitton Acts in Valencia in June.

“These next three months are critical for our research and development programme as well as for the development of our sailing team,” said Chris Dickson, CEO, BMW Oracle Racing. “The tests we will conduct in our full-scale testing programme now through June will contribute towards the final design of our first new 2007-generation race boat that we will start to build later this year. For the sailing team, these months together will strengthen our boat-handling, teamwork, and match racing in preparation for a tough racing season of six Louis Vuitton Acts in three countries. We are still closing the gap on the Defender, so it’s great to get a bit of a head start over them as far as time on the water in Valencia.”

Turbo-Charged Version 5 Race Boats

The team’s 2003-generation race yachts underwent major modifications over the winter months in Valencia to meet the so-called Version 5 design rules. The modified boats have been ‘turbo-charged’ with more downwind sail area and one tonne less weight in the keel. USA-76 suffered significant damage last year following a severe storm that blew it and two other teams’ race yachts out of their cradles following Louis Vuitton Act 1 in Marseille. Last week marked the first time USA-76 returned to the water since that September accident.

A New Look for a New Season

As part of the team’s sponsor and partner weekend 4-6 March in Valencia, technology partner Henri Lloyd hosted a catwalk fashion show featuring the team clothing line for 2005. The new feature of crew numbers was unveiled at the runway show, complete with professional and team models. Race crew members now have a number displayed on the back of their gear for ease of identification on television and by spectators during racing. The crew sailed today for the first time in their new technical clothing.

Sailing Team Numbers

Sailing team members selected their own numbers. They were offered to choose their favourite number between 1 and 100. Following is the sailing team and their corresponding crew numbers that will be displayed on their race gear: Ian Baker, 19; David Blanchfield, 70; Mark Bradford, 21; Gavin Brady, 5; David Brooke, 10; Stu Clarke, 31; Sean Clarkson, 9; Scott Crawford, 8; Julien Cressant, 3; Rodney Daniel, 72; Dirk de Ridder, 16; Chris Dickson, 11; Eric Doyle, 14; Noel Drennan, 63; Larry Ellison, 17; Jamie Gale, 12; Ross Halcrow, 4; Steve Hayles, 6; Zach Hurst, 25; Philip Jameson, 13; Tony Kolb, 7; John Kostecki, 2; Brian MacInnes, 44; Craig Monk, 15; Robbie Naismith, 38; Bertrand Pacé, 33; Ed Smyth, 32; Kazuhiko Sofuku, 23; Joe Spooner, 99; Brad Webb, 22; Paul Westlake, 20; Carl Williams, 30; and Bob Wylie, 29.

Team Returns to Valencia

Ninety team members are now in Valencia preparing for a busy racing and testing season. Many of the team and their families have relocated from 17 nations around the world to make their life for the next three years in Valencia.

The 2005 schedule will also take the team on the road to the Louis Vuitton Acts in Malmö (Sweden) and Trapani (Italy) later in the summer.