Cup boats reach Sicily

12 yachts unloading today

Thursday September 15th 2005, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: Italy
The 32nd America's Cup fleet arrived in Trapani on Wednesday evening aboard the M/V Schippersgracht. The ship completed the 2800 nautical mile journey from Malmö by slipping through the stunning Egadi Islands just to the west of the city before docking in the harbour at Trapani.

Unloading of the ship began early this morning and the team boats are expected to be plucked from the deck of the ship and placed on the team base compound area over the course of the day on Thursday and Friday.

"The unloading started at 06:00 Thursday morning," said René Holliger, who is responsible for the logistics of the operation. "We're pushing pretty hard to get it done quickly. We should have all the team boats and containers off the ship by the weekend, along with all the regatta operation boats and equipment."

The 12 teams of the America's Cup are already assembling in this Sicilian port, and most will grow to full strength over the next week or so. Expect to see many of the sailing squads hit the water by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, preparations along the waterfront in Trapani continue at full pace. The America's Cup Park, the heart of the public area at the Louis Vuitton Acts, is taking shape, and much of the main street along the waterfront is being completely remodelled in anticipation of the event.

The Trapani Louis Vuitton Acts conclude a 2005 racing season that has seen the Cup teams travel and compete in Valencia, Malmö and now Sicily. The America's Cup has never before been sailed for in Europe, and the roadshow has been very well received, introducing the event to fans across the continent who have enjoyed the competition and had a taste of the spirit of the America's Cup.

The races in Trapani will also decide the 2005 America's Cup Class season championship, where the Defender, Alinghi, has built a convincing six-point lead over the next closest challenger, BMW Oracle Racing. Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa are both one point further back with the two Trapani Acts left to sail. Racing is exactly two weeks away, scheduled to begin on 29 September.

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