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7 September 2005, 04:16 pm
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America's Cup 2007
Trapani, Italy

The America's Cup fleet bids a fond farewell to Malmö, Sweden at the conclusion of a spectacular fortnight of racing on the Øresund. At the conclusion of racing on Sunday, the teams began dismantling their yachts in readiness for shipping to Trapani, Italy, the Sicilian port due to host Louis Vuitton Acts 8 and 9 less than a month from now.
Where one race ends for the sailors, another begins on shore, for the logistics teams who will move the entire show to Trapani. Doing it under such time pressure, ready for the first day's racing on 29 September, is an enormous challenge. All going to plan, however, the teams should receive their boats in time for a few days' training on the Mediterranean, giving them time to acclimatize to the new conditions before racing begins.

The sailors can expect a passionate reception in Sicily. With three Italian teams making up a quarter of the Cup fleet, spectator interest in the Trapani Louis Vuitton Acts 8 & 9 will be enormous. +39 Challenge, with the words Sicilia emblazoned along the foot of their mainsail, can expect passionate local support. Many Cup fans are expected to travel across from the mainland to cheer on +39, along with Luna Rossa and Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team.

Since the America's Cup road show accounts for almost 2,000 people - including sailing teams, ACM staff and sponsor representatives - hotels and rented accommodation in the small town of Trapani could never cope with the influx. So the solution comes instead in the form of two large ferry boats, which the America's Cup family will call home.

The sailing in Trapani should be spectacular, and the backdrop of the Egadi archipelago makes for a photographer's dream. A crescent-shaped port situated between the sea and Mount Erice, Trapani has been influenced by many cultures over the centuries. Founded by the Phoenicians almost 3,000 years ago, Trapani later found itself caught in the middle of the great conflict between the Carthaginians and Romans, until the Romans took control of the region.

The town was reborn under the domination of the Arabs who began their occupation of Sicily in 827AD, and the Arabian influence is very evident even today, in terms of the architecture, the language and also the food. A strong North African influence pervades the town, with the couscous festival of September coinciding with the arrival of the America's Cup roadshow.

Trapani these days is best known as a fishing port, and the region is famed for the quality and quantity of the red tuna which live in abundance around the Sicilian coastline. America's Cup sailors are famed for their voracious appetites, but the restaurants around Trapani's waterfront should be more than able to cope. The Louis Vuitton Acts in Malmö have been magnificent. Trapani will do her best to match them.

Andy Rice. Image, Trapani:© ACM 2005
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