In the heart of the Tuscan archipelago, the charming bay of Porto Azzurro will be transformed this week into an evocative natural amphitheatre for sailing and a venue for exciting duels between some of the most famous skippers of the America's Cup.
The venue was changed from Portoferraio, prestigious home to the previous editions, to afford the public better viewing.
The Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman is actively promoted and supported by the Toscana Regional Government through the agency for economic promotion Toscana Promozione, sponsored by Gruppo Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Locman Italy and is under the auspices of the Elba Promotion Consortium and the Elba hotel owner's association. Elba sailing clubs will oversee technical and logistical aspects of the competition.
The ISAF Grade 1 Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman was born in 2002, following the participation of two Italian teams who had trained in Elba, Luna Rossa e Mascalzone Latino, in the 2003 America's Cup. The Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman has always set out to bring together the best skippers from the America's Cup.
This year seven out of 12 teams represent consortiums already preparing for the challenge in Valencia. An outstanding roster of participants is rounded out with the current Match Race world champion and number one and two of the world-ranking list in the discipline.
Russell COUTTS, current titleholder and three-time winner of the America's Cup, has confirmed his participation in the Elba regatta with members of Team Alinghi. Current Swedish Match Tour champion Jesper RADICH will sail with Team Denmark, Swede Magnus HOLMBERG (Team SeaLife Rangers), winner of the 2001 edition and Bertrand PACE, France, tour winner in 2000 and skipper of the new Team France.
Neapolitan Paolo CIAN, the only Italian in the world rankings and skipper of Mascalzone Latino in New Zealand, will sail in Elba with Italian Challenger and Karol JABLONSKI, Poland, leader in the ISAF rankings, will take to the water as skipper of the newly-formed consortium Toscana Challenge.
American Ed BAIRD, current Match Race titleholder and skipper of Young America in Auckland will be in Porto Azzurro with Team Musto, while former Luna Rossa member Gavin Brady will be at the helm of Team Oracle BMW Racing, Challenger of Record for the next America's Cup.
PETER GILMOUR, Australian, skipper of One World with five editions of America's Cup competition under his belt, will be at the Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman as leader of Pizza-La Sailing Team, Philippe PRESTI, French, will sail for team Le Défi, John CUTLER for Mascalzone Latino Sailing Team and Michael DUNSTAN for OzBoyz Challenge.
Participating teams will compete with IMX 40 racer/cruisers for a prize purse of over Euro 100,000 that makes the Italian date one of the most interesting on the professional panorama for 2004. The course, situated in front of the Porto Azzurro promenade, will be no longer than 900 meters, allowing the public to follow up close all the exciting dueling action: from busy last-minute preparations, to rounding the buoy and close crossings between boats.
After the first two days of getting acclimated and fine-tuning during free trials, on Tuesday May 4 and Wednesday May 5 two Round Robin eliminating rounds will determine which teams make the Quarterfinals scheduled for Thursday May 6. Teams will have a one-day pause before the Semi-finals on Saturday May 8 and the Finals on Sunday May 9 at the end of which the ceremony will crown the winner of the 2004 edition of the Toscana Elba Cup - Trofeo Locman.