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16 April 2007, 09:00 am
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

Racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup begins on Monday afternoon, with the first warning signal scheduled to fire at 14:05. Eleven challengers from nine countries are racing for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to battle Alinghi in the 32nd America's Cup Match.

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On Saturday, the 11 skippers, along with Michel BONNEFOUS , the CEO of the organizing body of the 32nd America's Cup and Yves CARCELLE, the President and CEO of Louis Vuitton MALLETIER, sat down with the media at the opening press conference.

BONNEFOUS spoke of the success of the four-year programme of racing, with 13 Louis Vuitton Acts, which is a prominent feature of this 32nd America's Cup. He said the event is expecting to welcome visitor number 2 million over this weekend preceding the Louis Vuitton Cup.

'In Valencia, with the authorities in Spain, we have developed this area and now we can see the result, where we have given back to a city its access to the sea. It's quite emotional in that respect,' said BONNEFOUS. 'In terms of the sport, we have extremely good challengers, the level is very high and we will see fantastic competition.'

Challenger Success

CARCELLE said the success of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger selection series is apparent in the winning rate of the Challenger against the Defender. 'I think it is highly symbolic that in 1983, the first year that Louis Vuitton gave its name to this competition, to share the passion that we all hold for the Cup, the first winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup went on to win the America's Cup and brought it to Australia. Since then, four times out of six, the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup has won the America's Cup. now [this time] we will see.'

The challenging skippers are certainly anticipating close racing, hard competition, and intense action. The purpose of the Louis Vuitton is to identify the eventual challenger, and to ensure that team is battle-hardened enough to compete strongly with the Defender. The format of this edition is compressed - seven teams will be eliminated by 7 May.

'It's not like years gone by where there's been enough time to do some testing between rounds,' says Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean BARKER (NZL). 'You are pretty limited in what you can change and how much you can develop, so you need to be going well right from the beginning to give yourself a chance at the end.'

ISLER Expecting Close Fight

'This could be as competitive as the closest and most hard-fought Louis Vuitton Cups that we've seen in the past,' agrees Peter ISLER (USA), the navigator for BMW ORACLE Racing. 'Compared to the two Louis Vuitton Cups in Auckland, you might say we have a deeper fleet this time, so I think it'll be interesting. The racing will be close, and I think it'll be the closest Louis Vuitton Cup ever.'

Each of the teams with a choice of two boats to race in the Louis Vuitton Cup have announced they will select the newest of their boats, meaning NZL 92 and USA 98 will make their competitive debuts on Monday.

The 12 teams of the 32nd America's Cup participated in an opening Boat Parade on Saturday evening at Port America's Cup. The light and sound show included fireworks and special effects, paying tribute to the teams fighting for the Auld Mug.

On Monday, racing is scheduled to begin at 14:15 in Round Robin One. The challengers race two full Round Robin series with only the top four advancing to the Semi Finals. The winners of each Semi Final best of nine will advance to the Final, from which the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will emerge.

Louis Vuitton Ranking

Pos Team Cumulative Ranking Points Ranking Bonus Points
1 Emirates Team New Zealand 158 1 4
2 BMW ORACLE Racing 147 2 3
3 Luna Rossa Challenge 145 3 3
4 Desafío Español 2007 106 4 3
5 Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia 103 5 2
6 Victory Challenge 83 6 2
7 Team Shosholoza 73 7 2
8 Areva Challenge 72 8 1
9 +39 Challenge 66 9 2*
10 United Internet Team Germany 42 10 1
11 China Team 18 11 1

* Awarded redress by the Jury

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, The battle for the Louis Vuitton Cup begins today:© ACM 2007/Photo:Carlo Borlenghi
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