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2 April 2007, 04:45 pm
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America's Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

Racing begins on Tuesday in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, the final opening act of the 32nd America's Cup. This marks the start of the decisive season of racing in the first America's Cup to be held in Europe.
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The season began on Sunday with the entire fleet participating in 'unveiling day' - each of the teams dropping protective skirts from around their hulls and keels. The public was invited to see the boats and over 53,000 turned out to enjoy the unique opportunity. On Monday, skippers of the 12 teams participated in an opening press conference. Tomorrow, Tuesday, the first warning signal for racing is scheduled for 14:05.

Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 is a fleet racing regatta, with seven races over four days scheduled. It marks the final time the Defender, Alinghi, will race against the group of challengers. When Alinghi next races, it will be in the America's Cup Match beginning on 23 June against the best challenger to emerge from the Louis Vuitton Cup.

In Act 13, and throughout this ultimate season of racing in the 32nd America's Cup, the competition on the water is expected to be closer than ever before, with 11 challengers and one defender all competing at the top level.

'The standard and level of the challengers and the design and sailing on the water is at a very high standard,' says BMW ORACLE Racing skipper Chris DICKSON (NZL), reflecting on the challenge ahead.

A Final Opportunity

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The 12 skippers
© ACM 2007/Photo:Carlo Borlenghi
Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 holds great importance for each of the teams. For the challengers, it marks a final opportunity to improve their standing on the Louis Vuitton Ranking, which distributes bonus points ahead of the Louis Vuitton Cup. The leading challenger earns an extra bonus point (four points) over the next three (three points). Challengers ranked fifth through seventh earn two points. The remaining teams pick up a single point.

That single point could mean the difference between advancing to the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup and being eliminated from further competition come 7 May, so it is clear the challengers are motivated to perform.

'We're currently in the one-point group and we'd really like to be in the two-point group after this regatta,' explains Shosholoza skipper Mark SADLER (RSA). But the teams he is chasing are determined to hold on to what they have.

'For sure we are going to give 100%. We will try to hold on in the two-point group. It's our main goal,' countered Areva Challenge skipper Sébastien COL (FRA).

BAIRD And AINSLIE In

At the opening press conference on Monday, two significant crew announcements were made by some of the top teams. Leading challenger on the Louis Vuitton Ranking, Emirates Team New Zealand, said that skipper Dean BARKER (NZL) would step off the boat for the fleet racing, with accomplished understudy Ben AINSLIE (GBR) taking the helm.

And the Defender, Alinghi, revealed its helmsman for Act 13. 'Ed BAIRD is going to steer the boat,' announced skipper Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL). 'But we might give Peter HOLMBERG [(ISV)] a shot later in the regatta. We still haven't decided who's going to do the Cup so we're just trying to give the guys as many races to do as possible.'

The forecast is light sailing conditions with light 5-8 knot westerly winds backing to the southwest over the course of the afternoon.

The list of registered yachts for racing in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 will be published on the official website, www.americascup.com, as soon as it is available from the Regatta Director.

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 12 teams will be lining up in a fleet race for Act 13:© ACM 2005/Photo:Francesco Ferri
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