Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, the recently-anointed Italian Challenger of Record for the 34th America's Cup, joins seven other Cup contenders in Auckland next month to race on New Zealand's Waitemata Harbor for the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland.
Inspired by last year's Louis Vuitton Pacific Series and sailed in former America's Cup boats, the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland is the second of five match race regattas. In France last November the Italian team Azzurra led by Francesco Bruni won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur, defeating the favorite Emirates Team New Zealand and its skipper Dean Barker 2-0. Both teams are part of the eight-syndicate entry for Auckland.
The only syndicate from last year, other than Emirates Team New Zealand, is Great Britain's TEAMORIGIN, skippered by four-time Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie
Four new teams are coming, all with familiar faces and powerful credentials. All four teams made their debuts in Nice. The French ALEPH Sailing Team is skippered by Bertrand Pacé
(FRA). All4One is a combined French and German team with skipper Jochen Schuemann
(GER). Artemis, from Sweden, has Paul Cayard
(USA) as skipper. Russia's Synergy Russian Sailing Team is skippered by Karol Jablonski
Part of the Auckland Festival of Sail organized by Emirates Team New Zealand, the Louis Vuitton event will overlap with the Auckland International Boat Show. The two Cup boats will dock in the heart of the Viaduct Basin on the quayside adjacent to Aucklanders' favourite restaurants and wine bars, providing an unprecedented opportunity for spectators to view boat preparation and the departures and arrivals of the teams each day.
Racing will follow the format established in Auckland last year and adopted for competition in Nice last November. Racing starts Tuesday 9 March. Teams will take turns racing the two boats in four matches a day to complete a round robin seeding series before a ladder elimination culminating in the finals on Sunday 21 March.
Preparations are well under way to host the top tier professional sailors. The two Emirates Team New Zealand yachts NZL 84 And NZL 92 have been fitted out, optimized and rigged after a year in storage. They set out yesterday on their first shake-down sail.
The Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland is organized in association with the New Zealand Government, Auckland City, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, New Zealand Tourism, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, TVNZ, Audi New Zealand and Emirates Team New Zealand.