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24 August 2005, 01:15 pm
The Racing In Sweden Starts In Less Than Two Days!
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Americas Cup 2007
Malmö, Sweden

Everything is in the final preparation stage in Sweden as the 12 teams are assembled and preparing for the Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Acts 6 & 7. For the past week the sun has been shining, the wind has been light to moderate, with the Malmö Festival kicking off this past weekend, the city has a party atmosphere.
The team base compound is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the set-up in Malmö. With 12 America's Cup teams lined up side by side, the bows of the boats pointing out to sea, and national flags flying above the bases, it has a real 'Cup village' atmosphere. Not only that, but it's likely the most 'dense' collection of America's Cup Class boats in history.

Since the 12 racing boats were unloaded from the ship one week ago, the teams have been racing to get sailing and to get a handle on the local conditions. It's tricky sailing here, especially when the wind is lighter, and being in tune with the vagaries of the waters off Malmö is critical to success.

Apart from re-assembling the boats, many of the teams have changed configuration and needed to pass through measurement control as well. But by the weekend, each of the teams was sailing, and the harbour off Malmö was certainly feeling like an America's Cup venue.

It's the same 12 teams racing in Malmö as in Valencia in June, but there's plenty of new looks to the teams. Sweden's Victory Challenge is alone in substituting boats, sailing SWE 73 here as opposed 63, which it raced so well in Valencia. New sails and the addition of a couple of experienced crew members should strengthen the local team as well.

'We've always known 73 is a faster boat,' said Hugo STENBECK, the head of the Victory Challenge syndicate. 'She's a tougher boat to sail. It's harder to find the sweet spot on it, but when you do, she really flies.'

SWE 73 is the only 'new' boat from the races in Valencia, but many teams will have different sailors on board, as the newer teams continue to build their squads, and the bigger teams try out different combinations in an effort to keep everyone 'race-ready'.

Perhaps the biggest change belongs to the BMW ORACLE Racing team, where Chris DICKSON is aboard again as skipper and helmsman. He didn't sail at all in the Valencia Acts, but now replaces the John KOSTECKI (skipper) and Gavin BRADY (helmsman) combination that raced in Valencia. BRADY remains onboard as tactician.

British sailor Chris Law will take over aboard Shosholoza as the helmsman for match racing, while Jochen SCHUEMANN will be behind the wheel for Alinghi.

For K-Challenge, there are a couple of additions to the sailing team, as well as alterations to the hull and appendages. China Team has a new keel bulb and will continue to integrate three Chinese sailors into the crew. The United Internet Team Germany has purchased a new, lighter mast, and has put the weight saved there into the keel, increasing stability. They've also enlarged their pool of crew to draw from, so expect some crew rotation throughout the racing.

Among the Italian teams, +39 has added Olympic medallist and former GBR Challenge skipper Ian WALKER to its team. Luna Rossa isn't revealing any major changes, although the addition of America's Cup legend Tom Schnackenberg to the team (it's not clear whether he will sail here yet) is a major boost. For Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team it has been a matter of integrating all the work the team scrambled to complete before the racing in Valencia.

'There are lots of little things, but we don't have any major changes to speak about,' said Tom WEAVER, Team Manager. 'It was a major scramble just to get on the water in Valencia, so this time we're much more prepared and relaxed and ready to race.'

For Emirates Team New Zealand, a new keel and bulb are the most significant upgrades, with the Kiwis expecting to rotate crew throughout the regatta as well. The Spanish team is looking to Karol JABLONSKI and Jesper RADICH as helmsmen in Malmö.

All in all it means there's plenty to keep you guessing ahead of the racing in Malmö-Skåne. Will any of the teams be able to make a breakthrough and improve on their standing in Valencia? We'll know soon, as racing begins on Thursday the 25th of August!

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