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12 teams battle in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 12

12 teams battle in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 12

Valencia, 21 June, 2006 - The stage is set for the final act of the 2006 America's Cup competition season, Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 12, which begins on Thursday. At stake is the 2006 America's Cup Class season championship, along with Louis Vuitton Ranking points for the challengers.

The Port America's Cup is ready to receive an influx of hundreds of boats and thousands of spectators each day, while the teams have completed their final preparations and are ready to compete.

One of the highlights of the week is sure to come on Friday 23 June. That day marks 'one year to go' to the first race of the 32nd America's Cup Match. In light of that, Act 12 is significant for the Defender, Alinghi; this is their last match racing competition against the challengers before the Match next year.

"It's been good for us because we've got to sail against other teams all the way since the last Cup in Auckland," said Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth, referring to the opportunities the Louis Vuitton Acts have afforded for racing between challengers and Defender. "It's been good for us and I think it's been good for the challengers as well."

Louis Vuitton Act 12 differs from previous Acts in format - it's almost like a mini Louis Vuitton Cup, with a round robin, semi final and final. The difference is that here the Defender, Alinghi, is competing and no teams are eliminated after the round robin.
Instead, at the conclusion of the round robin the 12 teams are ranked and grouped into three divisions of four boats. Each division races its own semi finals, final and petit final to determine placings within the group. Each semi final and final is a 'first to win two' series.

At the pre-Act press conference on Wednesday, Desafìo Español tactician John Cutler said the team is excited to be using its new boat, ESP 88, but the decision wasn't taken lightly.

"We thought long and hard about whether to use ESP 88 for this regatta, but we're trying to improve and we felt that getting the boat out there and learning more about how to race it would be the best thing. We'll see in two weeks whether or not that was the right call," he explained.

Racing is expected to be close; although there are definite divisions between the top and the bottom of the fleet, everyone has a close opponent. There will be no easy races.

"Version 5 of the rule makes the speed of the boats very close," said Bertrand Pacé of BMW ORACLE Racing. "It's a lot of work to increase the speed just one metre per minute. So you need to have a good start, and good tactics and probably half of the fleet could beat each other quite easily."

Among other races, the first day pairing list features an all-Italian match up between ACC season championship leader Luna Rossa Challenge and up and coming Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team who are sitting in fifth place.

Racing for the first match of flight one, Emirates Team New Zealand against China Team, is scheduled to begin at 14:10 on Thursday.


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