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Valencia to host next America’s Cup

Bertarelli (right) announces the host city for the America's Cup Keystone

Valencia in Spain has been named host city for the 32nd America’s Cup by this year’s winners, Switzerland’s Team Alinghi.

Valencia beat three other finalists, Lisbon, Naples and Marseilles, to win the lucrative honour of staging the sailing race in 2007.

Pierre-Yves Firmenich, president of the Geneva Nautical Society, made the announcement at a hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva, in front of representatives of the four cities.

“The decision was made unanimously this morning,” Ernesto Bertarelli, the billionaire owner of Team Alinghi, told swissinfo.

After the announcement, the executive director of Valencia’s candidature, José Salinas, said his team’s hard work had paid off.

“We worked relentlessly to get the America’s Cup,” Salinas said. “I would like to thank the Geneva Nautical Society for having confidence in us.”

Valencia will be the first European city to host the regatta. Its shores have already hosted many national and international regattas. The city was also the home of the last two Spanish challengers in the America’s Cup.

The port boasts favourable weather conditions for sailing. For most of the year, it enjoys winds of between ten and 15 knots, providing good speeds for regattas held in its waters.

The Spanish city stands to reap around €1 billion (SFr1.5 billion) in revenues from hosting the prestigious race, while preparations for and work during the event will create around 10,000 jobs.

Tough choice

Alinghi became the first European team in history to win the America’s Cup when it completed a 5-0 whitewash over Team New Zealand in March this year.

Although it is traditional for the winning team’s country to host the regatta, Switzerland’s landlocked status makes this impossible.

As a result, Bertarelli set up AC Management to choose a suitable European host city.

Whittled down from an original 60 venues in March, the final choice between the four short-listed cities was a tough one, says AC Management chief Michel Bonnefous.

“Through this bidding process, we identified four wonderful venues, each capable of hosting the America’s Cup,” he said. “Each city has worked very hard through the bidding process and they have all done an outstanding job.”

“In the end, Valencia seemed to us to be the best candidate not just from a sports perspective, but because it offered everything,” Bonnefous told swissinfo after the announcement.

New look

Shortly after bringing home the trophy, the Alinghi management set about rewriting the rules of the 152-year-old race, in accordance with an edict giving the defending champion the right to set the rules.

Competitors in the 2007 race have also had a say in the changes, which have been coordinated by AC Management.

“[The race] will evolve now it has come to Europe,” said Bonnefous. “There will be regattas and other events held by the host city each year leading up to the America’s Cup.”

The amended protocol calls for a single, independent management organisation to be set up.

A director will manage the challenger selection series and the America’s Cup, as well as appointing the event’s technical, legal and administrative bodies.

“We have rights regarding the America’s Cup, but we also have an obligation to ‘neutral management’,” Bonnefous added.


The America’s Cup was created in 1851, when a yacht from New York, called America, won a race around Britain’s Isle of Wight.
The New York Yacht Club then managed to hold on to the cup for 132 years, fending off 25 challenges.
The America’s Cup is currently in the hands of the Geneva Nautical Society, the yacht club represented by this year’s winning team, Alinghi.

Valencia stands to reap around €1 billion (SFr1.5 billion) in revenues from hosting the Cup.

Because Switzerland’s lack of coastline means it cannot host the Cup itself, AC Management was created to select a suitable European host city.

Alinghi’s managers have changed the rules of the race, including the introduction of interim competitions and a single, independent management organisation to oversee the races.

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