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28 September 2005, 03:00 pm
America's Cup Comes To Sicily
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America's Cup 2007
Trapani, Italy

The 2005 racing season for the 32nd America's Cup concludes in Sicily, Italy with the first races of the Trapani Louis Vuitton Acts 8 & 9 scheduled to begin on Thursday afternoon.
Today the twelve skippers met the media for the opening press conference ahead of racing. The verdict - with three Italian teams and a season championship to be decided on a potentially challenging race course, the Trapani Acts are going to be a grand finale to the America's Cup roadshow this year.

The three Italian teams are facing the added pressure of sailing on home waters for the first time in the history of the America's Cup. In addition to competing for valuable points towards the season championship, these three squads face the added demands and distractions of a home crowd.

However Vasco VASCOTTO (ITA), the skipper of the Italian Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team summed up the feeling of the three Italian skippers and their teams who are enjoying all the local goodwill, 'Sailing at home, there shouldn't be pressure. It should be a pleasure!'

'The most pressure comes from ourselves as we all want to do well,' added Luna Rossa skipper, Francesco DE ANGELIS (ITA).

Each of the skippers reflected that the competition in Trapani will be a demanding one, with tough local conditions, and a lack of local knowledge among the sailors compared to other venues. After a week or so of training, many of the sailors have remarked on the shifty, unpredictable winds.

'I checked up and down our team and I think there's only one who's raced locally,' said leader of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings Ed BAIRD (USA), who will take over the helming duties on Alinghi (SUI). 'It's going to be very challenging and interesting to figure out.'

There was universal acclaim however for the Trapani venue, with the city earning praise for transforming its harbour into a home for the America's Cup - at least for the next two weeks.

The Trapani Louis Vuitton Acts 8 & 9 will open to the public with a Teams Presentation ceremony Wednesday evening, featuring the twelve America's Cup boats parading up the harbour, an orchestra to provide the music, and concluding with fireworks.

The forecast for Thursday calls for sunny skies and warm temperatures, but light winds - exactly the type of difficult racing conditions the skippers are fearing.

Quotes of the Day from the Skippers' Press Conference

Jesper BANK (DEN), skipper, United Internet Team Germany, on changing the way the team prepares for Trapani, 'We were struggling at the first two events just to get on the water. In Malmö we struggled to get the modifications done and didn't have any time to sail the boat. Now we will do things completely differently, don't touch anything and just go sailing.'

Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), skipper, Victory Challenge (SWE), on switching back to SWE 63, 'After Malmö we decided to send the boat we used in Valencia here. The few days that we've had in the boat so far have been very promising so we hope we will be able to get the boat up to the same speed as we had in Valencia.'

Dean BARKER (NZL), skipper, Emirates Team New Zealand, on a short build up for his team in Sicily, 'We've sailed together as a team here in Trapani for two days so we've taken a very different approach. You might ask why, but I can't really answer that. We turned up late as a team but the guys are busting to get going and the last two days have been good.'

Vasco VASCOTTO (ITA), skipper, Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team (ITA), on the pressure of sailing at home in Italy, 'In two years we will have more pressure than we have here in Trapani.'

Francesco DE ANGELIS (ITA), skipper, Luna Rossa (ITA) on a lack of local knowledge about the sailing conditions, 'We have only sailed four or five days here in Trapani, much like the other teams. I have been racing in Sicily before but not in Trapani. This is a difficult race area and it will be very challenging.'

Ed BAIRD (USA), helmsman, Alinghi (SUI), on the pressure of taking the helm on a dominant team, 'For me it's incredible to be allowed to sail an America's Cup boat at all. If you remember, the last time I sailed one we broke it in half which probably has a lot to do with why I'm sailing in the last Act rather than the first one because they wanted to make sure that the boat made it through the year!'

Chris DICKSON (NZL), skipper, BMW ORACLE Racing (USA), on teamwork, 'We have 120 people in our team, we have a huge amount of depth in our sailing team and our afterguard and when the going gets tough as a helmsman it's a fantastic feeling to rely on the team to pull you through.'

Iain PERCY (GBR), skipper, +39 Challenge (ITA), on sailing in Sicily, 'My first sail in an America's Cup boat was in Sicilian waters. We spent most of the last winter training here. We were based in Palermo and had fantastic sailing. We did make it to Trapani for a week to see what this venue would be like but we had 35 knots blowing and were sailing around in our 25 footers, zipping around. It feels a long way from that now, but it's a challenging venue that can also provide those champagne sailing days.'

Geoff MEEK (RSA), skipper, Team Shosholoza (RSA), on his goals for the Trapani Louis Vuitton Acts, 'When we got to Malmö and hadn't won a match race yet after a year and a half of sailing we had a little bit of pressure on ourselves to get it over with. It was very exciting when we managed to beat the Swedish in Sweden. Here, three wins would make us happy and four would make us very happy.'

Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), skipper, K-Challenge (FRA), on goals for his team here in Trapani, 'Last time in Malmö we were very happy to win one match race and then one in the fleet race, this gave us a lot of confidence. But now we have to improve and confirm to everybody that we can make more wins in match racing.'

Karol JABLONSKI (POL), skipper, Desafío Español (ESP), on whether the team is happy with its new mast, 'Do we have a new mast? We are trying something different. Let's see when the races start. We can't say a lot now about our boat speed performance - we hope, like every team that makes changes that we will be faster.'

Pierre MAS (FRA), skipper, China Team, on changes for his team in Trapani, 'Here at Trapani we have two Chinese crew on board which is quite a step. In Malmö we were facing a boat speed problem but also a problem with the crew work, for example during the starts. We were not happy with our performance and we have tried to improve in these areas. We also have a couple of new sails to try to improve the speed and I hope that it will be better.'

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The twelve skippers:© ACM 2005
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