Tag Archive | "Desafío Español"

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Mussels eat America’s Cup keel in Valencia

Posted on 29 May 2014 by Valencia Sailing

This isn’t a headline from the National Enquirer but the sad fate of ESP-65, Desafío Español’s first IACC boat for the 32nd America’s Cup. After being abandoned at the yacht club, docked for years, her keel fell off, breaking her mast and revealing her sorry state. She began her life as USA-65, one of the two boats of One World Challenge, the US challenger to the 2003 America’s Cup, part-financed by Microsoft mogul Paul Allen and skippered by Peter Gilmour.

She was acquired by Desafío Español in 2005 and together with ESP-67 (former USA-67) she served as the Spanish challenger’s test and trial boats until 2007. Now, more than 11 years after her birth, her keel lies somewhere at the bottom of the sea and her hull is covered by a thick layer of, otherwise delicious, Valencia mussels.

ESP65 capsized at the Valencia Yacht Club. Valencia, 29 May 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

ESP65 capsized at the Valencia Yacht Club. Valencia, 29 May 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

ESP65 capsized at the Valencia Yacht Club. Valencia, 29 May 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

ESP65 capsized at the Valencia Yacht Club. Valencia, 29 May 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

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Iberdrola says “adios” to grand prix sailing

Posted on 06 November 2012 by Valencia Sailing

Whether it’s due to the crushing financial crisis in Spain or because sailing isn’t as attractive as other sports, or a combination of both, the fact is that Iberdrola, one of the world’s biggest utilities groups, decided to pull out from practically all sailing sponsorship, except from the Spanish Paralympic team, whose funding is done through a not-for-profit foundation.

Although there hasn’t been any official announcement from Iberdrola, Spain’s top sailing journalist, Jaume Soler, reported yesterday that Agustín Zulueta, up to now head of all grand-prix sailing activities related to Iberdrola, is actively looking for a sponsor that would allow him to continue his Soto40 campaign in 2013 and if that fails, try to sell the boat for 250,000 euros.

Iberdrola got into sailing sponsorship in 2004 with Desafío Español, whose total budget for the 2004-7 America’s Cup was allegedly 60 million euros. Under the leadership of Agustín Zulueta, the team achieved Spain’s best result ever, reaching the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals. Desafío Español bowed out of the 32nd America’s Cup with a very respectable defeat by Emirates Team New Zealand, 5 to 2.

Spain’s glory days when Desafío Español scored their first victory against Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals. Valencia, 20 May 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Desafío Español to fall from their glory heights to the darkest abyss of sailing thanks to their association with Ernesto Bertarelli’s malicious bedfellows in the Spanish Sailing Federation, Gerardo Pombo and Manuel Chirivella. Iberdrola backed the creation of Club Náutico Español de Vela, a fictitious yacht club that challenged Alinghi for the 33rd America’s Cup and the rest is history.

As the America’s Cup legal battle dragged on and it became obvious the 33rd edition would be a two-boat race, Iberdrola maintained its funding of Agustín Zulueta’s grand-prix sailing projects but at a steadily-dwindling rate. Iberdrola Team started the 2007 summer with a TP52 and a GP42 racing in the AUDI Medcup circuit and finished the 2012 season with a Soto40. That Argentinean-designed and built one-design boat failed to live up to its promise and the European fleet never took off, struggling hard to line up more than 6-8 boats.

Despite the fact Iberdrola, through Scottish Power, is the biggest utilities company on the US East Coast, the 34th America’s Cup never appealed despite Zulueta’s sales pitch and, more importantly, a venue in California. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that exactly three years ago, in November 2009, Iberdrola became the main sponsor of Spain’s national football (soccer) team. That decision proved to be more than successful! Spain went on to win the World Championship in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012. The financial details of the deal haven’t been disclosed but I can’t see, from a sponsorship point of view, what result in sailing could match being the world’s best team in the world’s most popular sport!

It’s a sad moment for the sport of sailing, not only in Spain but throughout the Mediterranean where sponsorship in sailing has all but vanished.

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Report: Iberdrola decides not to fund any America’s Cup team

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Valencia Sailing

It now appears that our information regarding the high-level talks in the Desafío base in Valencia were largely correct. According to an article by Spanish journalist Pedro Sardina, Iberdorla, the Spanish utilities giants and main backer of Desafío Español, has assessed the possibility of joining the 34th America’s Cup but decided no to go ahead.

Sardina is probably the best connected Spanish sailing journalist, befriending the decision-makers in the sport. In his article he publishes an interview with a “high-ranking Iberdrola manager” that prefers to stay anonymous but given Sardina’s connection it probably is someone high up in the hierarchy that has direct knowledge of the issue. As always, the translation is mine:

Pedro Sardina: What’s going on with the America’s Cup?
Iberdrola manager: Absolutely nothing.

Pedro Sardina: Are you sure?
Iberdrola manager: As sure as I know that you and I are talking right now.

Pedro Sardina: This is not what we’re hearing through the grapevine…
Iberdrola manager: And what is the grapevine saying?

Pedro Sardina: That you are thinking about it and that the “old rockers are back”.
Iberdrola manager: Who are the old rockers?

Pedro Sardina: [Manuel] Chrivella and [Gerardo] Pombo.
Iberdrola manager: No. This is not acceptable right now.

Pedro Sardina: Be honest. Have you ever thought about taking part in the catamaran race?
Iberdrola manager: Yes. It is true we assessed the possibility, but…

Pedro Sardina: But what?
Iberdrola manager: Iberdrola has many business interests in the United States and there was a possibility we would try a new challenge [Desafío].

Pedro Sardina: Promises by Ellison?
Iberdrola manager: No. It is true that Oracle are very interested in us joining the 34th edition, but Larry Ellison hasn’t promised us anything. Not only that, we haven’t even talked to him.

Pedro Sardina: So, it was [Agustín] Zulueta’s idea.
Iberdrola manager: It all went very well, honestly, with Agustín and as a result, we must, at least, listen to what he has to say.

Pedro Sardina: And if I tell you that you thought about it twice?
Iberdrola manager: I would admit it’s true. Twice or maybe more.

Pedro Sardina: What were those two occasions?
Iberdrola manager: The first one, that we discarded almost immediately, was to sponsor the Greek team. Iberdrola is a Spanish company and regardless of what sport competition we might enter it has to be with Spain. It can’t be any other way.

Pedro Sardina: And the other one?
Iberdrola manager: Start the Desafío Español but to do that we would need to have two more partners, at least. It’s too much an investment knowing we can’t win.

Pedro Sardina: But Cristóbal Grau [Valencia sports counselor] doesn’t think that way
Iberdrola manager: You know perfectly well that today and with the current format it is impossible to take the Cup back from the Americans.

Pedro Sardina: The Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) has now been forgotten?
Iberdrola manager: I think it doesn’t exist any longer but I’m not sure.

Pedro Sardina: Was the ridicule so big?
Iberdrola manager: I don’t consider it as such.

Pedro Sardina: What was it then?
Iberdrola manager: Let’s just drop it and forget the bad things of the past.

Pedro Sardina: Do Pombo and Chirivella have any chance in convincing you?
Iberdrola manager: This can’t work, believe me. Don’t go on with that issue.

Pedro Sardina: But they boast the old rockers are back…
Iberdrola manager: This is the first time I hear it and I’m surprised. Our only liaison is purely formal. We remain in the sport of sailing and we have to have smooth communication with the people in charge, especially now that the [Spanish] Paralympic team is in our base.

Pedro Sardina: What about the Soto 40?
Iberdrola manager: We have now been sponsoring boats and events in this sport for many years and we’ll keep on doing it. Having a boat in a top-level circuit is of interest to us.

Pedro Sardina: What happened with the GP 42 last year?
Iberdrola manager: You have to ask Agustín.

Pedro Sardina: I’ve already done and he says there wasn’t enough money to do the entire MedCup circuit.
Iberdrola manager: He had a budget for all the projects. If he had too many of them he should have known it.

Pedro Sardina: Will they do the entire Circuit this year?
Iberdrola manager: Yes, this is what we agreed, and the Copa del Rey.

Pedro Sardina: There are no Soto 40′s in the Copa del Rey.
Iberdrola manager: He says that the MedCup yachts will also be in the Copa del Rey.

Pedro Sardina: How much will the Soto 40 campaing cost?
Iberdrola manager: Agustín must tell you that. I’m not authorized to reveal that number.

Pedro Sardina: So, it’s a definitive no to the 34th edition of the America’s Cup?
Iberdrola manager: Nothing is ever definitive, but right now there is absolutely nothing.

Pedro Sardina: Sure? Look, you have until the end of March to join.
Iberdrola manager: Stop being such a pain. Today there is absolutely nothing, really.

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Iberdrola Team, former Desafío, to make first appearance in Trofeo Reina

Posted on 27 June 2009 by Valencia Sailing

Iberdrola Team, the former Desafío, will make its first appearance, albeit scaled down, during the Trofeo de la Reina, here in Valencia, from the 3rd until the 5th of July. The team is set to continue the participation of its main sponsor Iberdrola in the sport of sailing and will, initially, be a scaled down version of its former self.

The green team will participate with 2 yachts. The first one, the GP42, is well known in the international circuits. Still, with the absence of a separate GP42 division in this year’s regatta, the former GP42 champion will race in RI 0, a Spanish rating system. She will be helmed by Laureano Wizner, as she has been for the last 3 years. The second one, a Platu 25, will race in the corresponding division and will be helmed by Spanish match racing champion Manu Weiller. The TP52 yacht has already been sold to Cristabella and raced under the British flag 2 weeks ago in Marseille.

Desafío was without any doubt the most successful team ever in the history of Spanish sailing, reaching the Louis Vuitton semifinals two years ago and getting eliminated honorably by Emirates Team New Zealand. It’s a pity to witness the decline of such a team to a shadow of its former self but they have nobody to blame but themselves. The creation of the CNEV was entirely theirs and it gave BMW Oracle the golden opportunity to bring the case to the NY courts and earn a spot at the America’s Cup match after two failed attempts in the 31st and 32nd editions of the world’s oldest sports trophy.

Iberdrola Team will hold a press conference on Wednesday, where it will present its plans for the future. Given the absence of a conventional America’s Cup and the slim chances of having one in the near future, it is rumored the Spanish electricity giant will fund a second Volvo Ocean Race team. As per the contract signed between the Region of Valencia and the VOR organizers, in the next three editions there must be at least two different Spanish teams, independent from each other.

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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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Desafío and AUDI Q8 train in Valencia

Posted on 05 May 2009 by Valencia Sailing

As we mentioned last week, this could be well considered as the unofficial training week for the TP52 fleet in Valencia. With just a couple of exceptions, the entire fleet is here, busy putting more miles under their belt.

On Monday, it was the turn of AUDI Q8 and Desafío to train together, joined by Marazzi Sailing and Pisco Sour. It was interesting to observe that Desafío’s crew is now Spanish, with a touch of Italian and Argentinian flavor. Italians Carlo Castellano and Bruno Zirilli were grinding and navigating, respectively, on the Spanish yacht while Argentinian Santi Lange was calling tactics.

Desafío and AUDI Q8 train together. Valencia, 5 May 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Desafío and AUDI Q8 train together. Valencia, 4 May 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Desafío and AUDI Q8 train together. Valencia, 4 May 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Desafío and AUDI Q8 train together. Valencia, 4 May 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Desafío and AUDI Q8 train together. Valencia, 4 May 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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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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