Alinghi to build new boat for next Americas Cup

6th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 July 2007, VALENCIA - A new class of boat will be introduced for the next America's Cup.

6 July 2007

VALENCIA - A new class of boat will be introduced for the next America's Cup.

Where _ and when _ the yachts make their debut remained unclear  after defending champion Alinghi said it still had to decide whether to stay in Valencia.

The Swiss team, which successfully defended its title Tuesday, has the right to decide the rules of the next race, its location and timing.

"At this stage our discussions are more on how we are going to structure this event than on financial matters," said Michel Bonnefous, president of AC Management, the organization set up by Alinghi to manage the America's Cup.

The new class rule, the first since the 1992 competition, will see the carbon-fiber boats extended by 10 feet to 90 feet (33 meters), with a crew of up to 21 instead of 18.

"This is a design contest, a technology race," Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth said. "I think that's the way the Cup has always been and we are going to keep it that way."

As a repeat host, Valencia would be likely to host the 33rd edition in 2009.

"We have a good chance to go very fast with Valencia, and if we don't reach an agreement we will go to bid," Bonnefous said.

A bidding process could mean the race being staged in 2010 or 2011.

"Changing places ... gives the Cup a new flavor," Bonnefous said. "But it's a difficult process."

Valencia poured nearly €500 million (US$682 million) into developing Port America's Cup for the 32nd edition and has welcomed 6.4 million visitors since regattas began in 2004.

Spanish syndicate Desafio Espanol was named Tuesday as the next "challenger of record" and would enjoy the chance to race in front of a home crowd.

Valencia won the bidding process four years ago to bring the Auld Mug back to Europe for the first time since the inaugural race 156 years ago.

"There is still a chance of the regattas being held here," Desafio Espanol syndicate head Agustin Zulueta said of Valencia.

Zulueta said the Spanish syndicate signed the protocol as the "challenger of record" without assurances that the Cup would remain in Valencia. He refused to express disappointment at the announcement of a first new class for 15 years _ seen by many as to the advantage of Alinghi.

"We are not a puppet of Alinghi," the Spaniard said. "This agreement was signed with our best interests in mind."

Alinghi's dramatic one-second win over Emirates Team New Zealand ended the most thrilling America's Cup regatta for 24 years, with the Swiss winning 5-2.

Australia II's come-from-behind win over American boat Liberty in 1983 was the last time a series was as close.

With teams having limited time to prepare for the next campaign _ and only allowed to build one boat _ there's a chance Alinghi could ease to victory next time around. Five of the past six Cups have been clean sweeps.

But not everyone thinks Alinghi is boosting its chances with the new boats.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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