Valencia's Bastion Blanco


 
Tim Jeffery attended Saturday's opening of Alinghi's new base in the America's Cup basin
In Auckland it was the ‘Pink Palace’. In Valencia, the ‘Bastion Blanco’ will do. This is new home for the America’s Cup defenders Alinghi, a team that’s exuding confidence and calm. It’s hard to imagine that 18 months ago that the spat between Russell Coutts and team owner Ernesto Bertarelli was in full spate. Or that 12 months ago that at the first press conference after Coutts had gone, held during the Marseilles Louis Vuitton Act regatta, showed a team that was awkward and uncomfortable. Then, Bertarelli made Coutts’ best friend and tactician, Brad Butterworth, ‘vice-president’ of the team. This weekend in Valencia, the Alinghi squad was told by their team owner that Butterworth is now their skipper. This formalises what was happening already on the water and with a fabulously successful 2005 racing season. Victory in all three Louis Vuitton match race Acts and success in two out of three fleet race Acts in which the myriad of improvements to SUI 75 spooked the 11 challengers with her speed, shows that Alinghi is poised and powerful once more. Look around Valencia's Darsena harbour, the team bases are quite something. Eyesore prize will go to Desafio Español when theirs is finished, unless you like a head-on assault in lime green. Tops for subtley is Luna Rossa’s base, which feted architect and sailor Renzo Piano has clad in super-sized images of sails. For visual weight, you can’t miss the BMW Oracle base. Its black smoked glass couldn’t be anything other than a car showroom or software HQ premises. Which is why Alinghi’s Bastion Blanco stands out. It’s sophisticated and understated. The outward leaning front wall immediately separates it from every other base from the road side, and the opening positively invites the public in. In Auckland, the Alinghi base was the most welcoming to visitors.

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