Preparations for the final Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta have wrapped up in Dubai. The event hosted by the Dubai International Marine Club at the Mina Seyahi Marina starts on Sunday after the official opening ceremony on Friday.
It will signal the end of 20 years of racing action for boats designed to the International America's Cup Class rule.
IACC boats were used in five America's Cup and five Louis Vuitton Cup regattas from 1992 to 2007. The four Version 5 boats racing in Dubai - two from BMW Oracle Racing and two from Emirates Team New Zealand - were amongst the last boats built to the rule. Altogether 100 sail numbers were issued for trial horses and race boats under 13 national flags.
Albert Jacobsoone, pitman aboard the French entry All4One, knows the boats by heart. He sailed FRA 2, the second IACC boat launched.
"The first America's Cup Class boats came out in 1991,"
Jacobsoone said. "We've been sailing them for 20 years! These are heavy monohulls with big spinnakers. I might not be attached to these boats but still, it's the end of an America's Cup period."
Following the informal testing and training completed this week, there will be two days of official practice on Friday and Saturday for the six competing teams ahead of the first day or racing on Sunday.
There is a new regatta format featuring two round robins, with winners in the first scoring single points in each back-to-back match against the same team. In the second round robin, each win is worth two points. The top four boats will advance to a best-of-three semi-finals and those winners to a best-of-five finals.
Featured events during the regatta include racing on 60-foot dhows on Heritage Day, Saturday 20 November, and a separate day of IACC fleet racing on Thursday 25 November.
Boats will race a windward-leeward course against the impressive backdrop of Dubai's skyscraper skyline but with a difference compared to previous Louis Vuitton Trophy events.
The windward-leeward races will commence on a mid-course start line with the start line also serving as a gate on each windward and leeward leg. With a much shorter (half size compared to previous races) first leg, the boats will likely be very close at the top mark, making for plenty of passing opportunities on the downwind legs. Throughout the race, the mid-course gate will force the boats closer together, increasing the pressure on the crews to execute their maneuvers flawlessly.
The Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai is under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, the Principal Sponsor of the event.
Louis Vuitton Trophy Website - http://www.louisvuittontrophy.com