Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena sets sail tomorrow

First up: Aleph v TeamOrigin

Friday May 21st 2010, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: Italy

A cannon shot that rang out over the Porto Arsenale in La Maddalena, Sardinia, tonight signalled the opening of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena. Competition will start tomorrow with six races planned and the possibility of two more if conditions are favorable.

A match between the Italian teams Mascalzone Latino Audi and Azzurra will be the second start of the day and is expected to attract close attention because Mascalzone is the Challenger of Record for the next America’s Cup. The third race will see BMW Oracle Racing, the current holder of the America’s Cup, competing against Emirates Team New Zealand. Later in the day the Swedish team Artemis will race Emirates Team New Zealand.

Yves Carcelle, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton welcomed everyone to the event and forecast that it would be great for the sailors and great for the public alike. He offered his thanks to officials of the region for making the regatta possible.

Speaking before the ceremony, Vincenzo Onorato, Chairman of Mascalzone Latino Team, said with a smile: “To host the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena was my idea and, standing here today, for once in my life I must say I was right. I’ve known this area well, since I was a kid and when I saw the new Arsenale I was pleasantly aware it is the best place possible to host a Louis Vuitton Trophy. We can expect light winds this weekend but after that, anything can happen.

 “A special welcome is for Oracle which just won the America’s Cup. This is very important because this is the first time that we all have a chance to challenge James (Spithill) and his wonderful team.”

Paul Cayard, Chairman of the World Sailing Teams Association and skipper of the Swedish boat Artemis, paid special tribute to the Italian teams. "Italy is passionate about sailing and the America's Cup,” Cayard said. “As evidence of this interest, three Italian teams are racing here; Luna Rossa, Azzurra and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team.  Sardinia is an iconic Italian venue for sailing and I am confident that the Louis Vuitton Trophy will be a spectacular event."

Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland but skipper Dean Barker was cautious about his team’s chances, despite a victory last week at the Audi MedCup in Cascais, Portugal. “La Maddalena is an interesting venue,” Barker said. “Race courses will be laid inside a number of islands so we are expecting conditions to be tricky. We will be racing in two Mascalzone Latino and two BMW Oracle Racing boats. For the past two days we have spent some time learning how to sail them. Conditions have ranged from extremely light to heavy; bright sunshine to thunder, lightning and heavy rain.
The challenge for us is to discover in a short space of time just what makes these boats go . . . and what they don’t like.”

Former America's Cup winning helmsman with Alinghi American Ed Baird, sailing for a new team as skipper of the Italian team Luna Rossa, said: “These boats are great.  They make for close racing and it’s going to be exciting competition. We have a real blend of people sailing on our team this week and it’s going to be fun to learn some new styles. We know there are a few teams that are on top of the heap right now. Emirates Team New Zealand is very strong.  The BMW Oracle guys are very good.  Mascalzone Latino had a good event in Auckland. Azzurra is sailing very well this year. We have a big hill to climb to catch up to those guys in a short amount of time.”

Francesco Bruni, skipper and helmsman of Azzurra, said: “We just completed three great days of training, with variable wind conditions, including some violent thunderstorms which caught us head on! We noticed that all the teams went into these training sessions with great determination, pushing to the limit and taking many risks, which confirms the great level of experience of all the crews. The scenery in La Maddalena, as expected, is absolutely stunning. The mood of Team Azzurra is high. We are confident that we did all we could to be prepared for this event and we are eager to start racing. The guys are excited, the group is strong and we have just the right amount of adrenalin to start."

The pairings are:

Flight One, Match One: Aleph vs TEAMORIGIN
Flight One, Match Two: Mascalzone Latino vs Azzurra.
Flight Two, Match One: BMW Oracle Racing vs Emirates Team New Zealand
Flight Two, Match Two: Luna Rossa vs All4One
Flight Three, Match One: Synergy Russian Sailing Team vs Mascalzone Latino
Flight Three, Match Two: Artemis vs Emirates Team New Zealand

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