A spectacular fleet parade around the Vieux Port of Marseille opened the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act, marking the beginning of the 32nd America's Cup.
The first fleet race of the event is scheduled to begin on Sunday afternoon at 12:40, and will be the first America's Cup racing in Europe in more than 150 years.
The six teams racing in Act 1, the Defender, Team Alinghi, the Challenger of Record, BMW ORACLE, along with Team Shosholoza, Emirates Team New Zealand, K-Challenge and LE DEFI, are scheduled to race six fleet races on the first three days, ahead of a full round robin of match races, before racing concludes on Saturday, 11th September.
On Saturday afternoon, the fleet was welcomed to Marseille by Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin, who introduced the teams at a ceremony in front of the Town Hall, before the fleet paraded through the Vieux Port of Marseille, and out to their bases on the J-4 pier.
"Marseille is a welcoming town. It is also fraternal and loyal town. And in today's climate of international conflict we proudly welcome teams representing five different countries and crews from around the world,"
Mayor Gaudin said. "Thousands of people have come together in the Vieux Port today to celebrate and we welcome them all."
Each team responded in kind, thanking the Mayor for his welcome, and outlining their plans for the 32nd America's Cup. Captain Salvatore SARNO, the principal behind South Africa's Team Shosholoza eloquently spoke on behalf of the first African team to ever contest the America's Cup.
"I have been told several times that it is a wonderful thing that we are here as an African team, trying to take the America's Cup to South Africa,"
Sarno said. "But that is not exactly what we are here for. Really we are here to bring a part of Africa to Europe and the America's Cup."
Following the Mayor's welcome, th e fleet then paraded out of the Vieux Port and back to the race village area at the J-4 pier, followed by an armada of over 400 small boats, spectator craft eager to join in the celebration. Over 15-thousand people lined the shore to welcome the America's Cup sailors, as Marseille joined the select list of cities to play host to the oldest sporting trophy.
As a prelude to the Opening Ceremony a group of junior sailors competed in a short race in Optimist dinghies deep within Marseille's Vieux Port. The winning sailor, the 13-year old Gabriel Skozek beat 58 other boats to earn himself a place on board K-Challenge for the race on Monday as the '18th man' guest.