With Act 1 of the 32nd America's Cup beginning in just two weeks, the enormous logistical task of moving the teams, boats, support staff and facilities to Marseille has begun.
On Monday afternoon, the Dockwise transporter ship Explorer was loaded with a large cargo of America's Cup gear, ahead of a scheduled 19:00 departure, for the move to France.
The loading of three ACC boats, SUI 64 (Alinghi), RSA 48 (Team Shosholoza), FRA 69 (LE DEFI), 16 shipping containers, four ACC masts, and 24 RIBS, made for a long afternoon of work for the longshoremen and team shore crews. SUI 64 was loaded with the mast stepped, while the other ACC boats were shipped stripped down to a more conventional shipping state.
The Dockwise Explorer is expected to be at sea for nearly 40 hours for the 345 nautical mile trip, and should arrive in the Vieux Port at Marseille on Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, two other ACC boats, belonging to K-Challenge and Emirates Team New Zealand were towed at high speed from La Spezia, Italy, (where they had been since arriving in Europe earlier this month from New Zealand), to La Ciotat, a major port just 20-miles East of Marseille. They will rendezvous with the rest of the fleet in Marseille's Vieux Port later in the week.
That leaves just BMW ORACLE. In order to maximise its sailing and training time in Valencia, the team has elected to tow its USA 76 from Valencia to Marseille. BMW ORACLE is expected to join the rest of the fleet early next week in Marseille.
The first races of the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act 1 are scheduled for the fifth of September. But rigging, measurement, training and practice racing will begin as soon as the boats are ready to sail at the end of the week. A fleet parade featuring the six competing teams will open the regatta on the fourth of September.
The America's Cup fleet then returns to Valencia in the middle of the month, ahead of Acts 2 and 3 in the Host City of the America's Cup beginning early in October.
The Marseille Louis Vuitton Act 1 of the 32nd America's Cup - Valencia, runs from the 5 to 11 of September combining Fleet and Match Racing.
The Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 2 of the 32nd America's Cup - Valencia, is a Match Racing event from the 5 to 12 October.
The Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 3 of the 32nd America's Cup - Valencia, is a Fleet Racing event, from the 14 to 17 of October.
Racing for the 32nd America's Cup - Valencia will continue in 2005 and 2006, with several more Acts in various locations, including Valencia, the Host City of the 32nd America's Cup - Valencia.
In 2007, a fleet race event will precede the Louis Vuitton Cup, whose winner will then race the Defender, Team Alinghi, in the America's Cup Match in Valencia