Racing begins on Tuesday in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, the final opening act of the 32nd America’s Cup. This marks the start of the decisive season of racing in the first America’s Cup to be held in Europe.
The season began on Sunday with the entire fleet participating in ‘unveiling day’ – each of the teams dropping protective skirts from around their hulls and keels. The public was invited to see the boats and over 53 000 turned out to enjoy the unique opportunity. On Monday, skippers of the 12 teams participated in an opening press conference. Tomorrow, Tuesday, the first warning signal for racing is scheduled for 14:05.
Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 is a fleet racing regatta, with seven races over four days scheduled. It marks the final time the Defender, Alinghi, will race against the group of challengers. When Alinghi next races, it will be in the America’s Cup Match beginning on June 23rd against the best challenger to emerge from the Louis Vuitton Cup.
In Act 13, and throughout this ultimate season of racing in the 32nd America’s Cup, the competition on the water is expected to be closer than ever before, with 11 challengers and one defender all competing at the top level.
“The standard and level of the challengers and the design and sailing on the water is at a very high standard,” says BMW ORACLE Racing skipper Chris Dickson, reflecting on the challenge ahead.
A final opportunity
Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 holds great importance for each of the teams. For the challengers, it marks a final opportunity to improve their standing on the Louis Vuitton Ranking, which distributes bonus points ahead of the Louis Vuitton Cup. The leading challenger earns an extra bonus point (four points) over the next three (three points). Challengers ranked fifth through seventh earn two points. The remaining teams pick up a single point.
That single point could mean the difference between advancing to the Semi Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup and being eliminated from further competition come May 7th, so it is clear the challengers are motivated to perform.
“We’re currently in the one-point group and we’d really like to be in the two-point group after this regatta,” explains Shosholoza skipper Mark Sadler. But the teams he’s chasing are determined to hold on to what they have.
“For sure we are going to give 100%. We will try to hold on in the two-point group. It’s our main goal,” countered Areva Challenge skipper Sébastien Col.
At the opening press conference on Monday, two significant crew announcements were made by some of the top teams. Leading challenger on the Louis Vuitton Ranking, Emirates Team New Zealand, said that skipper Dean Barker would step off the boat for the fleet racing, with accomplished understudy Ben Ainslie taking the helm.
And the Defender, Alinghi, revealed its helmsman for Act 13. “Ed Baird is going to steer the boat,” announced skipper Brad Butterworth. “But we might give Peter Holmberg a shot later in the regatta. We still haven’t decided who’s going to do the Cup so we’re just trying to give the guys as many races to do as possible.”
The forecast is light sailing conditions with light 5 to 8 knot Westerly winds backing to the Southwest over the course of the afternoon.
The Regatta Director announced the registered race yachts for Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13. Of the teams who have built two new boats, Luna Rossa Challenge, Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia and Desafio Espanol have elected to race their newest boat.Alinghi SUI 91 BMW ORACLE Racing USA 87 +39 Challenge ITA 85 Team Shosholoza RSA 83 Emirates Team New Zealand NZL 84 Luna Rossa Challenge ITA 94 Areva Challenge FRA 93 Victory Challenge SWE 96 Desafío Español 2007 ESP 97 Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team ITA 99 United Internet Team Germany GER 89 China Team CHN 95