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Swiss to name host city for America’s Cup defence

Alinghi will be defending its title in European waters. alinghi.com

Switzerland’s Team Alinghi, holder of the America’s Cup, is preparing to announce which city will host its defence of the trophy in 2007.

This content was published on November 18, 2003 - 14:09

Lisbon, Marseilles, Naples and Valencia are all vying for the lucrative honour of staging the 32nd America’s Cup.

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

“A new era has dawned for the America’s Cup,” proclaimed Russell Coutts, Team Alinghi’s skipper, shortly after scooping sailing’s most prestigious prize.

Switzerland became the first landlocked country to win the competition. But since it cannot host the event itself, it has been searching for a suitable European venue.

There were 60 candidates in March, eight in May, five by the summer, and now only four remain on the shortlist.

And much is at stake, as the winning city stands to reap around €1 billion (SFr1.56 billion).

Changing the rules

Shortly after bringing home the trophy, the team’s management set about reforming the rules of the 152-year-old regatta. Competitors in the 2007 race have also had a say in the changes.

“Our goal is to make this event even better than it was before,” said Alinghi executive director Michel Bonnefous.

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, and appoint the event’s technical, legal and administrative bodies.

Since 1870, the defender has been able to set rules to suit itself – an edict that correspondents say enabled the New York Yacht Club to hold on to the trophy for 132 years.

New set-up

Alinghi’s owner, the Swiss biotechonology billionaire, Ernesto Bertarelli, set up AC Management to coordinate changes to the rules, as well as organise the 2007 event and select the host city.

Bonnefous, the head of AC Management, has been whittling down the list of potential race venues with the help of Bertarelli and Pierre-Yves Firmenich, president of the Geneva Nautical Society.

Lisbon (Portugal), Marseilles (France), Naples (Italy) and Valencia (Spain) have all been bending the ears of organisers, hoping to win the right to host the next America’s Cup.

The winner will be announced in Geneva on November 26.

In the run-up to decision-day, swissinfo is profiling the four candidates.

swissinfo, Mathias Froidevaux (translation: Samantha Tonkin)

Alinghi

Four cities are jostling to host the next America’s Cup in 2007.
Naples, Valencia, Lisbon and Marseilles are in the running.
AC Management will announce its decision on November 26.
Coutts was named World Sailor of the Year on November 13.

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