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15 October 2005, 03:15 pm
China Team - Under Construction: One America's Cup Team
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America's Cup 2007

China Team had the toughest of seasons in the ACC Season Championship 2005. In Valencia, Spain they finished both Louis Vuitton Acts in eleventh place, ahead of South African Shosholoza on both occasions. In Malmö, Sweden they were last in both Acts. In Trapani, Italy they were last in the match racing but finished in eleventh in the final Louis Vuitton Act, the fleet racing, ahead of the French K-Challenge.
So on paper, there is not much to cheer about. But it is important to remember that this is the only part-time team on the America's Cup circuit. Building, sailing and maintaining these boats at the top level is a high-cost, full-time commitment. Skipper Pierre MAS (FRA) knows what he needs to reach the next level. 'To be competitive we have to work hard, and to work hard we need a full time, full team,' he says. 'And for that, we need to complete our budget. Now the 2005 races are over, the goal of the next weeks and months is to be able to finalise our budget, to enable us to work in a different way in 2006.

'What I want for next year is to have everybody involved full time in Valencia. If we can do that, we can be more competitive in 2006 and 2007.' The other big challenge for MAS is to build an America's Cup boat in a country with no prior experience of constructing such a hi-tech sailing machine. But having returned from China on a tour of various boat yards, MAS is encouraged by what he has seen. 'There is more than one possibility for building this boat, in Qingdao or Shanghai, for example,' he says.

Even now, MAS rules out the chance of racing a new boat in the Louis Vuitton Acts next year. He is focussed on having a boat completed towards the end of next year. 'To be ready for the end of 2006, we need to start building by the end of March at the latest,' he explains. 'And then we have a delivery problem, because it will take at least a month to ship the boat from China to Valencia.'

Despite the hurdles, MAS remains optimistic about the future of the team, and the commercial appeal of a campaign that is building bridges between East and West. 'The concept has attracted a lot of interest in companies, not just from China but from Western countries,' he says. 'It is important to remember that China Team is a long term project. We know we won't win the America's Cup in 2007, but the plan is to be strong for the next Cup in 2010 or whenever it happens. I'm sure with the people that we have today we can achieve that.'

Currently China Team is made up predominantly of French sailors, a legacy of the Le Défi origins of this campaign. Three Chinese sailors have raced on board during the 2005 Louis Vuitton Acts, and no doubt more will join the campaign over the coming years. Part of MAS's remit is to build a sail training programme in China, from which Chinese sailors will be cultivated and groomed for success in the America's Cup.

MAS draws great strength from the success of the South Africans in 2005. 'Shosholoza for me is a very good example. Last year they were coming last in an old boat. Earlier this year they were struggling to avoid coming last while getting used to their new boat. Today they have improved a lot. Their crew work is really coming together. They have good speed, and they are just behind the top four. So if we can work in a structured way, I think everything is possible in four years' time.'

China Team: Match Races in 2005

The following table shows all race results from the three Match Race Acts of the 2005 season: Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 4, Malmö Louis Vuitton Act 6 and Trapani Louis Vuitton Act 8. The right column shows the total amount of points gained against each team throughout the year. The bottom row shows the total amount of races won per Act.

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© ACM 2005

China Team: Fleet Racing in 2005

The following table lists all placings during the three Fleet Race Acts of the 2005 season: Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 5, Malmö Louis Vuitton Act 7 and Trapani Louis Vuitton Act 9. It shows a curve charting the team's form throughout the year.

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For a complete list of all the news about the America's Cup 2007 CLICK HERE.
ACM 2005. Image, China team in action this year:© Francesco Ferri /ACM 2005
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