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First Louis Vuitton Press Conference


At the premiere press conference of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the 30th America's Cup, conversation was hushed and expectation filled the room. Some 150 journalists from all over the planet were anxious to meet the 11 skippers of the challenging syndicates on the eve of the first races. TV cameras were set up to record it all, photographers loaded up their cameras, ready for the perfect shot, whilst the written press waited for those memorable quotes.

As the skippers filed through the back door of the newly completed media complex at the NZ National Maritime Museum some were tense, others were shaking hands and exchanging friendly words with competitors. This was their first collective appearance in front of the international press.

The America's Cup 2000 Louis Vuitton Media Centre fills half of the National Maritime Museum on Hobson's Wharf at the entrance to the Viaduct Basin, home to the 11 challengers and defending Team New Zealand syndicates. Within the Media Center, rows of tables are set up downstairs for phone and complete network connectivity for more than 120 journalists at a time. Upstairs is a gallery with another 60 desks for photographers and news agencies staff. The press conference hall is set up with state-of-the art multimedia presentation facilities.

When the skippers took their place behind the long table on stage, in front of a towering Louis Vuitton backdrop, the audience of writers, photographers and special guests stretched their necks for a good look at the stars of this five-month long sailing show.

There were no fireworks at this first press conference just a chance for skippers to issue a few friendly words about their hosts and their competition. This will change as racing progresses.

A common theme was the tremendous amount of energy necessary to get syndicates this far. With the start of the Round Robin One only hours away, several skippers were referring to the coming days as a big reality check. After years and years of designing, testing, optimizing, crew selection and fine-tuning, it was now time to meet the other challengers on the racecourse.

Bruno Troublé, Louis Vuitton: "James Spithill is the youngest skipper with the smallest budget and the oldest boat."

Paul Cayard, AmericaOne: "It's been a long, long grind. We've been at this campaign for over four years. It's been a tough challenge to get to this point. We've learned a lot along the way. I feel we have a good team and a very good foundation from which to build a winning campaign. This week we're going to get a little insight as to where everyone stands at this stage of the campaign."

Peter Gilmour, Nippon Challenge: "The Japanese team is really looking forward to getting out there It has been a long haul since 1995. Our skipper Makoto Namba said we would be back and sadly he will not be. And that is something that has weighed on all of us. We are taking his memory with us into this America's Cup. Please remember him.

Ed Baird, Young America: "Auckland and New Zealand have in general put together a tremendous venue and a great opportunity for our sport to show itself on a worldwide basis."

James Spithill, Young Australia 2000: "Its interesting hearing what some of these skippers are saying about their challenges and how long they have been going. Our challenge has only been going for four months but it feels like four years with the amount of work we've been doing."

Dennis Conner, Stars & Stripes: "If we have a nice lead I'm planning on being at the wheel at the finish. And, if we are a bit behind, I will be ducking behind the traveller."

© Scoop Media

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