Act 5 fires up
Friday June 24th 2005, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: none selectedThe Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 5 begins tomorrow with the first two of five fleet races scheduled. All 12 competitors in the 32nd America's Cup will race on the course at the same time, looking to win the regatta with consistently good results.
For spectators, the fleet racing will be a treat, but for the sailors, the prospect of 12 boats, 300 tonnes of carbon fibre, and nearly 1,000ft of boat length on deck, charging hard at the same point on the water is a little stressful.
"You can imagine what the top mark will be like with half a dozen boats arriving at the same time," said Dean Barker, 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 12 boats, it is entirely possible that the winner of the series doesn't 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, helmsman for +39 and a veteran of racing in big fleets in the Olympic Star class. "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, 12 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, and who was responsible for bringing the America's Cup to Europe, spoke of his pleasure in facing 11 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 14:00. 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.
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