Act 4 starts 16 June Matthew Sheahan sets the scene for the start of road towards the 32nd America's Cup

The 2007 Cup starts here. The teams are in place, the regatta structure decided and the opening event held at the same time as the Cup race itself will take place in 2007. Act 4&5 in Valencia will not only kick off the Cup, but provide the clearest indication yet as to what’s in store over the next two years. Last season was an important step forward for the Cup’s first appearance in Europe and widely acknowledged as being a big success, but the real deal is about to begin. With the deadlines past and eleven challenging teams in place, this is the first time that we will see all the teams, their bases and their performance on the water.

After some experimentation last year, the format of the racing is now decided and marks a big step away from tradition with fleet racing forming a crucial part of each Act. Despite being two years away from the match, the racing along the way will be no pillow fight for the teams. Scoring points will be key to success with the points weighted for each season. Indeed, this aspect has been one of the more controversial issues of the new Cup format, especially as for the first time in the history of the event, the Defender gets to breath down the necks of the Challengers as they race alongside them right up until the Louis Vuitton Cup, the event that decides the final challenger.

From the Defenders point of view, making the points count heavily towards the end puts pressure on the top teams to play hard and reveal their performance, but it’s not difficult to see why the Challengers are less keen.

And then there’s the venue. Since the announcement in November 2003, Valencia’s harbour the Dársena Interior and surrounding area has gone through a huge transformation. A massive land-filling operation to provide sufficient space for the twelve bases to sit around the basin was the start, then came a giant Superyacht pier capable of handling over thirty 30m yachts. On the even of the first race the pier was already bristling with yachts.

Meanwhile, on the shoreside and to the south of the basin the new bases are taking shape with teams set up along the newly reclaimed land. If you were here last year, you’d barely recognise the arena but one thing is crystal clear.

In the America’s Cup, the talking’s never over, but the real deal’s about to begin.

Racing starts 16 June

16-21 June – Match Racing
22 June – Reserve day
23 June – Lay day

24-26 June – Fleet Racing

To find out more about the teams, the boats, the format and the buzz, make sure you get hold of the July Issue of Yachting World – out now.