'You can imagine what the top mark will be like with half a dozen boats arriving at the same time,' said Dean BARKER (NZL), helmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand. 'It'll be interesting, a great spectacle and will be great to watch.there's absolutely no doubt the racing will become more intense.'
Fleet racing is about as different a discipline from match racing as you can get in sailing. In match racing, your time around the course is irrelevant; the only thing that matters is beating one other boat. In fleet racing, your job is to place as high in the fleet as possible. To win a fleet racing series, consistency is what counts, not necessarily winning races. In fact, in a fleet of twelve boats, it not impossible that the winner of the series does not win even one race.
'It will be awesome. It will be one of the most impressive spectacles we've seen for a long time,' said Iain PERCY (GBR), helmsman for +39 Challenge (ITA) and a veteran of racing in big fleets in the Star and an Olympic gold medal winner in 2000 in the Finn. 'It will be like a Star windward mark, except the damage will be more expensive. Every one is going to have to have their eyes open.'
This morning, ahead of the first day of fleet races on Friday, twelve of the syndicate heads and leaders gathered for a press conference to open the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 5. Ernesto BERTARELLI, the man behind Alinghi (SUI), and who was responsible for bringing the America's Cup to Europe, spoke of his pleasure in facing eleven challengers at these opening Acts of the 2005 season in Valencia.
'It's difficult to win in this group of teams so we're pleased with that. I'm really happy to see that there are so many teams for the next event. That was one of our objectives and I think it couldn't have been met more brilliantly with so many teams and so many different countries coming to the America's Cup,' he said. 'The fact that there are so many teams means that they think they have a chance of winning the Cup. That's good news.'
The next chance for the challengers to beat Alinghi on the water comes on Friday afternoon. Five fleet races are scheduled for the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 5, with the warning signal for the first race due to be fired at 1400 hours local time. The Race Committee intends for racing to take place on the north (Romeo) race course, just a few hundred metres off Malvarossa Beach, where a large crowd will enjoy the action.