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Report: Desafío to quit the America’s Cup, move to the Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 28 May 2009 by Valencia Sailing

As it has been widely reported in the Spanish press, Iberdrola, the Spanish utilities group, bought out the shares of Desafío held by Real Federación Española de Vela (13%), Caja Madrid (8%), Pedro Campos (6%) and Josep Cusí (6%) and is now in total control of the former America’s Cup Spanish team.

According to Spain’s most influential sailing journalist, Jaume Soler, a meeting will take place in the team base in Valencia, where Agustín Zulueta will explain the new owner’s decisions and the future plans in store.

Although it is not yet official, Desafío sold its TP52 yacht to John Cook’s Cristabella. Still, the most important aspect of Iberdrola’s plans is to quit the America’s Cup and, reportedly, focus on the Volvo Ocean Race.

In fact, the current base in Valencia will be transformed and according to an internal Iberdrola document we have, “the base will accommodate a wide range of activities, going from nautical events to outreach programs in the world of sailing as well as the management of different national and international sailing projects.”

As Soler reports the green team will most probably set a new base in Alicante in order to enter the Volvo Ocean Race. As per the recent agreement signed between the Regional Government of Valencia and the round-the-world race organizers, the next three editions (2011, 2014 and 2017) will depart from Alicante. In addition, the Valencian government has to guarantee the presence of at least two Spanish teams, independent from each other.

Since Telefonica has expressed its will to continue in the race, Soler writes that Iberdrola will most probably be that second team. That is also the reason Pedro Campos sold his stake in the green team, being the owner of the Telefonica VOR team. It seems that the sports activity will be in Alicante and Valencia will become, in a way, the headquarters of the group’s sailing activities.

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The TP52′s train in Valencia

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Valencia Sailing

With less than 3 weeks left until the start of the 2009 AUDI Medcup in Alicante there is increasing activity in Valencia. Three TP52 yachts were training today and a handful more are expected to do so in the following days.

Last year’s Med & World champions, Quantum Racing, are using Desafío’s base and have been training for about a week. There is little additional information we have on Terry Hutchinson’s TP52 campaign.

The Quantum Racing TP52 yacht on her way to another training day. Valencia, 22 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

As for the Spanish team Desafío, the most notable change is the departure of Paul Cayard. In addition, given the absence of a GP42 campaign this year, some of the crew that sailed last year in the smaller yacht was incorporated into the TP52 boat. Laureno Wizner, helmsman on the GP42 yacht for 2 years, has now taken Cayard’s place and drives the Spanish entry in the AUDI Medcup circuit.

The Desafío TP52 yacht on her way to another training day. Valencia, 22 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The 3rd TP52 yacht training further away was last year’s Artemis, flying a big Swiss flag on her stern. She was too far to get a decent photo but we will certainly snap a few tomorrow. According to the information we have, the first-ever Swiss participation in the AUDI Medcup circuit started training yesterday and will make its racing debut in Alicante.

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The TP52′s train in Valencia

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Valencia Sailing

With less than 3 weeks left until the start of the 2009 AUDI Medcup in Alicante there is increasing activity in Valencia. Three TP52 yachts were training today and a handful more are expected to do so in the following days.

Last year’s Med & World champions, Quantum Racing, are using Desafío’s base and have been training for about a week. There is little additional information we have on Terry Hutchinson’s TP52 campaign.

The Quantum Racing TP52 yacht on her way to another training day. Valencia, 22 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

As for the Spanish team Desafío, the most notable change is the departure of Paul Cayard. In addition, given the absence of a GP42 campaign this year, some of the crew that sailed last year in the smaller yacht was incorporated into the TP52 boat. Laureno Wizner, helmsman on the GP42 yacht for 2 years, has now taken Cayard’s place and drives the Spanish entry in the AUDI Medcup circuit.

The Desafío TP52 yacht on her way to another training day. Valencia, 22 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The 3rd TP52 yacht training further away was last year’s Artemis, flying a big Swiss flag on her stern. She was too far to get a decent photo but we will certainly snap a few tomorrow. According to the information we have, the first-ever Swiss participation in the AUDI Medcup circuit started training yesterday and will make its racing debut in Alicante.

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Meanwhile in Valencia… BMW Oracle keep training on their Extreme 40′s

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Valencia Sailing

The Energizer bunny keeps going and going in its funny TV commercials but James Spithill and the BMW Oracle crew keep training and training off the Malvarosa beach in Valencia for some very serious stuff, the 33rd America’s Cup. The two Extreme 40 yachts of the America’s Cup challenger and their pair of French sparring partners, Groupama and Team Gitana, concluded their second week of training this Friday.

Valencia Sailing spotted the four yachts very close to the beach, early Friday afternoon, racing under, unfortunately, very light and shifty conditions. We would be surprised if the 4 yachts sailed on the completely flat Valencian sea with more than 3-4 knots of breeze. Not only that, two of the test races we watched we abandoned halfway through as the breeze completely died down and then shifted close to 180 degrees. April is a tricky month in Valencia and one doesn’t need to go way back in the past to encounter similar conditions. Almost 2 years ago, during the Louis Vuitton Cup of the 32nd America’s Cup the nerves and patience of sailors, spectators and organizers were put to test after scores of races being canceled in windless days.

BMW Oracle keep on training aboard their two Extreme 40 yachts while at the back, Desafío start testing their TP52 boat. Valencia, 17 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Speaking of the past, Valencia Sailing will soon have the weather patterns that prevail on February 8th, 10th and 12th from as back as the 1950′s. It might be wishful thinking but if indeed a one-on-one race takes place between Alinghi and BMW Oracle, here in Valencia next February, we will know at least what to expect. Obviously, the data will be limited, in fact it comes from an observation post not far from the beach but it will at least provide an indication.

While part of the BMW Oracle crew will be racing on the RC44 circuit starting next Tuesday, James Spithill will keep training in Valencia for the third and final week.

Last but certainly not least, while the 4 Extreme 40 yachts were carrying out their races, Desafío’s TP52 yacht was being tested not far away. The Spanish team got reassembled in Valencia 3 days ago and started testing and training for the AUDI Medcup opening event in Alicante, less than a month from now. It was funny to see the monohull yacht of the former Challenger of Record crossing the multihull boat of the current one.

As far as we know, at least from what we can observe, there isn’t any action taking place from Alinghi’s side in Valencia.

BMW Oracle keep on training aboard their two Extreme 40 yachts. Valencia, 17 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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Desafío and Quantum Racing prepare their TP52 yachts in Valencia

Posted on 15 April 2009 by Valencia Sailing

With exactly one month left until the start of the 2009 AUDI Medcup in Alicante, almost all teams are busy outfitting and trialling their TP52 yachts in Valencia. The rest are either in Palma for the HUBLOT Palmavela or on ship on their way to Valencia, as is the case with Emirates Team NZ and Artemis.

Today Wednesday we spotted last year’s Med and World Champion, Quantum Racing, in the Desafío base, on her cradle, masted and apparently ready to be launched while the TP52 yacht of the former Challenger of Record of the 33rd America’s Cup will be masted later today.

According to our information, the two TP52 yachts are scheduled to be launched and, weather allowing, carry out the first test sail on Thursday. There hasn’t been any clear weather pattern in the last month in Valencia, with sunny and rainy days constantly alternating.

Desafío and Quantum Racing prepare their TP52 yachts. Valencia, 15 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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Meanwhile in Valencia… BMW Oracle’s Extreme40 is back on the water

Posted on 24 March 2009 by Valencia Sailing

We are now well into the 3rd year where news, directly or indirectly, related to the America’s Cup is either about lawyers and judges in New York or multihull yachts, either small or monster ones. Today’s post is about a smaller one, 40 feet long to be precise.

BMW Oracle’s Extreme 40 catamaran was put back on the water and it seems it won’t be long before they sail off the Malvarosa beach. With the court decision expected any time now, the Americans must train as much as possible on multihulls. We don’t know whether James Spithill is in town but since the test sessions in San Diego have come to an end and the 90-foot trimaran is being modified, it is highly likely. We’ll keep an eye. In any case, Franck Cammas and his Groupama crew will also be coming to Valencia to train together with the Americans.

BMW Oracle’s Extreme40 catamaran is back on the water after the winter break. Valencia, 24 March 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Meanwhile, Team Container’s STP65 is getting ready in the Luna Rossa base for her second training session in Valencia. As for the Luna Rossa STP65 boat, she is still inside the shed on her cradle and we don’t know whether a new mast will arrive in time for the Italians to be ready for their first 2009 regatta, next month in Palma.

Team Container’s STP65 yacht is getting ready for her second training week. Valencia, 24 March 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Team Container’s STP65 yacht is getting ready for her second training week while Luna Rossa’s yacht is still inside the shed on her cradle. Valencia, 24 March 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Finally, it seems that some activity is taking place in the Desafío base. After many months being shat down, the boat shed sprang back to life. The door that used to hide ESP-88, and now the team’s TP52 yacht, is open in view of the Spanish team’s participation in the 2009 Audi Medcup. Desafío has scrapped its GP42 project and will now focus its non-America’s Cup sailing on the TP52 bat that will once again be skippered by Paul Cayard.

Desafío won the GP42 circuit last year and its withdrawal, together with 3rd-placed Near Miss, brings the number of participating yachts down to a mere handful.

Some signs of life in the Desafío base after many months. Valencia, 24 March 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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Desafío Trophy: Alinghi takes the trophy with two more bullets

Posted on 09 November 2008 by Valencia Sailing

Two more bullets for Alinghi and the Desafío Trophy in their pocket. Alinghi, the 33rd America’s Cup Defender, put on an excellent performance and even if this event only gives bragging rights it seems they were not as rusty as the other three teams. The last two races of the Desafío Trophy were again sailed under light and shifty conditions and the America’s Cup Defender won both. Hadn’t been for the three ripped spinnakers in the opening race of the event, Alinghi would have gone with a perfect score.

Race 1Following the week’s pattern, the first race got underway under very light and shifty conditions. Alinghi pocketed their fourth victory in the event, after staging a nice comeback from behind. The Defender chose to go to the right side of the course while the other 3 boats opted for the left. Luna Rossa got better pressure and led the first beat rounding the 1st top mark in front of Alinghi. Yet, right after the first gybe, they decided to go left while Alinghi, Team Origin and Desafío sailed on the left. By the time the fleet reached the leeward gate, Alinghi was ahead of Luna Rossa. They held on to a comfortable lead until the finish line.

Start of the day’s first race. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Alinghi took the lonely road to the right and found less pressure. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Luna Rossa crosses ahead of Alinghi in the first beat. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Luna Rossa leads the race at the 1st weather mark but Alinghi is already close behind them. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Alinghi, Team Origin and Desafío opt for the left side of the course in the first run and Luna Rossa for the right. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Luna Rossa paid the price of their tactical choice in the first run, giving Alinghi the lead in the second beat. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Alinghi is in the lead at the approach to the 2nd weather mark. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Brad Butterworth adjust the trim tabs at the weather mark. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Luna Rossa rounds the 2nd top mark in second place. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Preparing to hoist the spinnaker on Team Origin. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Regardless of whether the results of this regatta are meaningful or not, Desafío’s performance, here last in the last stretch, was far from encouraging. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Race 2Just like the rest of the week the breeze had picked up and the race committee didn’t before giving a new start. Unfortunately, I was only able to watch part of the first beat but, surprise, surprise, Alinghi won again. The left was the favored side and all 4 boats opted for it. Alinghi had a clear start and immediately leaped to the front. From afar, SUI-100 could be seen to be comfortably ahead in the beat and was first to hoist the spinnaker. As it finally turned out, Murray Jones helmed her to her fifth consecutive victory.

Start of the 2nd race. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

Start of the 2nd race. Valencia, 9 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis>

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Desafío Trophy – Day 2: Two bullets for Alinghi

Posted on 08 November 2008 by Valencia Sailing

Solid boatspeed, nearly flawless tactics and crisp crew work resulted in two bullets for Alinghi in the 2nd day of the Desafío Trophy. It is true that the other 3 teams might not be the formidable Emirates Team New Zealand the Swiss faced last year in the America’s Cup, on the same waters, but today’s Alinghi was definitely a notch closer to its former self.

The second day of the Desafío Trophy took place under considerably better conditions than yesterday. First of all the first race was postponed by less than an hour and the second race got underway under an easterly breeze of almost 12 knots. Still, it was tricky and shifty. Alinghi won both races and is now leading overall with 6 points. Right behind them with 10 points is Luna Rossa that scored two seconds. Team Origin is third with 11 points and Desafío is at the bottom of the leaderboard with 13.

Two races are scheduled for Sunday but with a time limit at 3:30pm and a possible repeat of today’s wind conditions it is more than likely that only one will take place. In any case, Alinghi has to sail awfully in order not to win the Trophy. The question of course is to what point these results are meaningful. Still, it is a good training and marketing opportunity, after a long hiatus. Desafío for example always has two guests aboard ESP-97 in each race.

Race 1The first race of the day, third of the event, got underway after an one-hour postponement as the race committee waited for the breeze to pick up to 6 knots. Under these light and shifty conditions, Alinghi and Luna Rossa got ahead from the start, playing the left shift and rounded the top mark ahead of Desafío and Team Origin that had opted for the right. From that point, the order remained unchanged and there was little Luna Rossa could do to pass Alinghi.

BMW Oracle had a “discreet” spectator boat. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Patrizio Bertelli, owner of Luna Rossa, was also on one the team’s tenders watching today’s races. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Start of the first race. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Ben Ainslie helms the Team Origin boat. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi and Luna Rossa cross in the first beat, in front of the 2 other yachts. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi and Luna Rossa clearly ahead of Desafío and Team Origin on the firs run. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Desafío and Team Origin at the leeward gate. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Luna Rossa round the top mark behind Alinghi. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Team Origin ready to hoist the spinnaker at the 2nd top mark. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi sails to victory in the first race. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Race 2What happens when you get nice opportunities and you miss them? Ask Paul Cayard and the Desafío crew. The Spanish had an excellent start, showed good speed and were ahead in the first crossings. Halfway through the first beat they went to find the left shift they anticipated while the other 3 boats stayed on the right. Unfortunately for the Spanish, the left didn’t pay and as a result slipped to 3rd in the top mark. Alinghi and Luna Rossa were ahead. The Defender extended its lead over the Italians in the 1st run and stayed ahead. Desafío got it wrong again in the 2nd beat, giving Team Origin the opportunity to pass them. Despite an intense gybing duel in the final run, the Spanish couldn’t climb up, finishing last.

Start of the 2nd race. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi and Desafío cross in the first beat. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The fleet in the first beat. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi rounds the first weather mark ahead of the fleet. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Luna Rossa rounds the first weather mark in second position. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The missed opportunities Paul Cayard was talking about. Desafío had an excellent first half in the first beat but then rounded the top mark third. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Team Origin rounds the top mark last. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi leads the race in the first run. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

They might be a little bit rusty but it took Alinghi’s crew just one day to get back in form. The spinnaker drop in the leeward gate was probably the best example of crisp crew work so far. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Adding insult to injury, Desafío completely miss the shift in the 2nd beat and round the top mark dead last. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The last leg saw an intense gybing duel between Team Origin and Desafío. A couple of sloppy gybes by the Spanish team gave the British the opportunity to finish 3rd. Valencia, 8 November 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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