Moet Cup gets underway on Monday

New race format on trial in San Francisco

Saturday September 13th 2003, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: United States
America’s Cup class racing will return to the United States next week when the Cupwinning Swiss Team Alinghi takes to the water against its US rival, the Oracle BMW Racing team. The two-part Moët Cupfeatures America’s Cupstyle match racing on San Francisco Bay, with the first race set to start at approximately 1300 local time on Monday 15 September.

The race format for the Moët Cup is a unique, two-part event with two, simultaneous regattas, an owner/driver series, and a pro/driver format.

In one part of the event, the owner/driver series, Larry Ellison will be at the helm of the Oracle BMW Racing team, against his friend and rival, Ernesto Bertarelli skippering Alinghi. The five-race series will award one-point for each race win, and the series winner will claim the Moët & Chandon Owner Series Jeroboam Trophy. The winner of the Owner/Driver Series also will be presented with the Harold S. Vanderbilt Trophy, a perpetual trophy awarded for “excellence in yacht racing as a team principal and skipper.”

On the same boats, usually in the first race of the day, the professional skippers will sail a seven-race series - at stake, the Moët Cup Silver Methuselah Trophy, (presented to the winner of the Pro Series) and early status as the front runner for the 2007 America’s Cup. One point will be awarded for each race win in the Pro/Driver series, with both teams very enthusiastic about facing each other for the first time since the Louis Vuitton Cupfinal.

“For us, this is the most important regatta of the year,” Oracle BMW Racing CEO Chris Dickson confirms. “We have treated preparation for the Moët Cupvery seriously. We competed in two warm up regattas in June and July and last month we had our two boats here for in-house racing and testing. We have been on the water six days a week for the past month.”

Alinghi’s America’s Cupwinning skipper Russell Coutts has handed skippering duties to three-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Jochen Schuemann for the Moët Cup, in an effort to further develop the team.

"We’ve said all along that we want to create two world class teams ahead of the America’s Cupin 2007," Coutts explains. "This is a great opportunity for Team Alinghi and for Jochen to get fighting fit."

Many of the sailors who competed with Alinghi during the America’s Cup, as well as a handful of newcomers, whom are auditioning for positions ahead of the 2007 defense, will back Schuemann aboard SUI-64.

"We’re taking our training in San Francisco very seriously, and our team will be ready to race," Schuemann vows. "After helming Alinghi in training against Russell for more than two years, I’m happy and excited to take the helm for a real race."

The teams will have to be prepared for much different conditions than they faced in Auckland. Generally, the wind in San Francisco is expected to be a touch stronger, and the water flatter than in New Zealand. However, challenging currents and a much shorter race course will ensure the tacticians and navigators have to stay on their toes.

The Moët Cup is a first step toward making America’s Cup racing more accessible to the general public and sailing fans worldwide. For the teams, this highly anticipated competition provides a training platform and the opportunity to try out new crew in an authentic, competitive racing environment.

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