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7 June 2007, 09:33 am
Louis Vuitton Cup Presented To Emirates Team New Zealand
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

The entire Emirates Team New Zealand squad climbed up on the prizegiving stage to receive the Louis Vuitton Cup on Wednesday evening, after winning the fifth race of the Final, to sweep their way into the America's Cup Match.

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The Louis Vuitton Cup trophy arrived in Port America's Cup on the back of a paraglider before it was presented to the team by Yves CARCELLE, the President and CEO of Louis Vuitton Malletier. 'Today, we have a fantastic winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup,' CARCELLE said, handing the trophy to skipper Dean BARKER (NZL) and team leader Grant DALTON (NZL).

'I would just like to say congratulations to Luna Rossa, they were a fantastic team and gave us a very good contest,' said DALTON, paying tribute to his vanquished opponent. Then, addressing the crowd of 15 000 on hand for the prizegiving, 'I want to say to all of you, to all of our supporters here and in New Zealand, you are absolutely brilliant - we love you!'

The Emirates Team New Zealand squad was also joined on stage by Michel BONNEFOUS, the CEO of the organizers of the 32nd America's Cup and Antoine ARNAULT, the Director of Communications for Louis Vuitton. Shortly after receiving the trophy, the team enjoyed a champagne moment, spraying magnums of Moët & Chandon over each other, filling the trophy and drinking from the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Tough Journey

Looking back on the team's performance in the Cup, skipper BARKER said, 'It's been a really tough journey the Round Robins didn't start well, and the team has bounced back and grown as we have come through. The Semi Final was great on reflection we will look back and say that racing Desafio and dropping two races to them has actually made us a much stronger and better team.

'I don't think anyone on the team ever dreamed or believed that we would get through the LVC Final against a team like Luna Rossa in the way we did - we never ever felt it was a comfortable series, it was always very tight and I think the first and last races showed exactly the type of racing we were geared up for.'

The Emirates performance was impressive; the 5-0 sweep was the first time in Louis Vuitton Cup history that the final scoreline had been so one-sided. Certainly the Luna Rossa team was impressed.

'I think they had a little edge on speed and they had a perfect week where everything went their way,' said Luna Rossa tactician Torben GRAEL (BRA). 'When the competition is at this level, and everything is going their way, they are making very few mistakes, it's hard to beat them…They did sail a very good series, and all we can do is congratulate them for their victory.'

Bring On Alinghi

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The Kiwi fans have flocked to Valencia
© Chris Cameron/ETNZ

The next task for Emirates Team New Zealand is facing Alinghi in the 32nd America's Cup Match. Throughout the four years of Louis Vuitton Acts, the Kiwis and the Alinghi team have sailed ten matches, with the Emirates squad holding a 6-4 advantage. Last year, the Kiwis won 4 of 5 races. Alinghi is prepared for a tough battle commencing 23 June.

'I think they are just sailing very well,' said Alinghi skipper Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL) in a statement released by his team. 'They have had the benefit of the Louis Vuitton Cup to get their game bigger and better so they are a force to be reckoned with. Obviously they are on top of their game…'

Alinghi defeat Team New Zealand 5-0 to win the America's Cup in Auckland in 2003, a defeat which BARKER, Kiwi skipper then and now, is confident will not be repeated, 'There are fundamental differences in this team to the team that lost the Cup in 2003. The leadership of Grant DALTON and Kevin SHOEBRIDGE and what those guys have done is fundamental. They were dark days but key decisions put this team back together, hard work and the money to be able to push the 'go' button for the challenge. We have managed to step up a level for the Final. The challenge is now to stay focussed and take another step going into the America's Cup.'

The 32nd America's Cup Match begins on 23 June. It is a 'first to five' series - the first team to win five races will win the America's Cup.

Louis Vuitton Cup - Final

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
Luna Rossa Challenge 0 0 0 0 0 0
Emirates Team New Zealand 1 1 1 1 1 5

The America's Cup Match and Challenger/Defender Series are designated as ISAF Special Events. For more information on the America's Cup, the Louis Vuttion Acts and the teams competing, visit the official America's Cup website - www.americascup.com.

For a complete list of all the news about the America's Cup 2007 CLICK HERE.

ACM 2007 (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Dean BARKER and Grant DALTON lifting the LVC:© Th.Martinez
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