With space limited to just eight slots due to space restrictions, five teams have already confirmed their intention to race in the first Act of the XXXII America's Cup in Marseille in September.
Just three spots remain open for the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act after two French teams, as well as a team from South Africa, signed on to participate in the first three Acts of the XXXII America's Cup.
The Defender of the America's Cup, the Swiss Alinghi team, and the Challenger of Record, the U.S. Oracle BMW Racing team, will also race in Act One.
The French teams, Le Défi and the K-Challenge, will both race in front of a home crowd in the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act, beginning 5 September, 2004, while South Africa's Shosholoza team will make its first appearance in America's Cup racing in Marseille. The teams will then come to Valencia, Spain, for Acts 2 and 3, beginning on the 5 of October.
Stephan KANDLER, the CEO of the K-Challenge says he sees these first races as being very important to his team.
"We want to race this year for two reasons,"
Kandler said. "First, we want to show our current sponsors and our potential partners what the America's Cup has to offer in Europe. We want to give them a taste of the Cup, and whet their appetite for more. Secondly, it's an ideal opportunity for us to evaluate some of the personnel we are recruiting, and to train our sailors. We're very excited about it."
Luc GELLUSSEAU, the Operations Manager for Le Défi agrees.
"We want to be part of this. The America's Cup is in Europe and it is important for us to demonstrate what this means to our partners. With the first Act being sailed in Marseille, it was a very easy decision to make."
Gellusseau says the team will be sending one of its boats, FRA-69, to Valencia early in summer, and plans to be sailing and training off the coast of the host city of the XXXII America's Cup by the end of June. The team will set up a 'mobile' base there to conduct operations this year.
For South Africa's Shosholoza team, the racing this year will be the first opportunity for many of its sailors to experience America's Cup Class competition.
"We've been out training on the boat off Cape Town since early April,"
said Captain Salvatore SARNO, the head of the South African team. "I think these first races in Marseille will remind our team of how much work we still have to do!"
AC Management, the organiser of the XXXII America's Cup will ship each team from Valencia, Spain, to Marseille, France, and back again. AC Management will move the race boat, ship's tender, three gear containers, and two masts as part of a package of logistics and shipping assistance to each America's Cup team registered in all three Acts.
Act One of the XXXII America's Cup, the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act, runs from the 5 until 11 of September combining Fleet and Match Racing. The opening of the event park, a parade through Marseille's Vieux Port, and practice racing will take place on Saturday 4 September.
Act Two of the XXXII America's Cup, the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act, is a Match Racing event from the 5-12 October.
Act Three of the XXXII America's Cup, the second Valencia Louis Vuitton Act of 2004, is a Fleet Racing event, from 14-17 of October.
Racing for the XXXII America's Cup will continue in 2005 with four more Acts in Europe and America.