4a1b12455ff48210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2010-03America's Cup aspirants out to raise the bar3a1b12455ff48210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____America's Cup aspirants out to raise the barThe elite sailors, denied a crack at the big prize in sailing, will take to the water for 12 days of intense fight for the Louis Vuitton Trophy.<p>ABU DHABI // The world's elite sailors take to the water in Auckland, New Zealand, tomorrow morning for the first of 12 days of intense match racing, in the opening regatta at this year's Louis Vuitton Trophy.
Regarded by many as "the alternative America's Cup", the Louis Vuitton Trophy will come to the UAE in November, when Dubai International Marine Club hosts the third of four rounds.
In Auckland, although the protagonists of the 33rd America's Cup - BMW Oracle and Alinghi - are conspicuously absent due to unresolved legal action, the eight teams comprise the leading veterans of previous America's Cups and likely contenders for the next, among them the official Challenger of Record for the next cup, Mascalzone Latino Audi.
Having trained in Version 5 America's Cup boats, the teams will be paired against each other for seven days of round-robin competition, followed by a sail-off and semi-final, with the final on March 21.</p>
<p>The format is almost identical to that of the Louis Vuitton Cup (not Trophy), the challenger selection series that preceded all America's Cups between 1983 and 2007.
The Louis Vuitton Trophy, which is bring organised by the World Sailing Teams Association (WSTA), a group of America's Cup-level teams that was formed last year, evolved from what was planned as a one-off regatta in Auckland in February 2009, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.
It brought together 10 teams that would have challenged for the 33rd America's Cup if not for the legal battles that closed the competition to all but BMW Oracle and Alinghi, and its success amply demonstrated the desire of the world's best sailors to keep competing at that level.
"We can't sit around and wait for who knows what to happen when we all have great aspirations with our teams," said Paul Cayard, the chairman of WSTA, and skipper of Swedish-owned Team Artemis, which campaigns in both the Louis Vuitton and RC44 series.</p>
<p>In Auckland the teams have spent the past two days training and familiarising themselves with the yachts, NZL84 and NZL92. "The boats are lovely to sail, with excellent helm response and all the mechanicals beautifully thought out," said Ben Ainslie, the skipper and helmsman for Britain's TeamOrigin and a triple Olympic gold medallist.
Dean Barker, the skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, said this morning that his team had their work cut out, despite sailing in home waters on yachts that they owned, and therefore knew inside out.
"The fantastic thing about this event this year is that the standard has got better. I think it's a lot higher. Many of the teams have been training in the Version 5 boats in preparation, so I think the bar has been lifted. All of the teams sitting here have the opportunity to win every time they line up."
<p>Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (NZL92) vs. All4One (NZL84)
Azzurra (NZL92) vs. TeamOrigin (NZL84)
Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL92) vs. Artemis (NZL84)
Aleph Sailing Team (NZL92) vs Synergy Russian Sailing Team (NZL84)
<i>(Sandra Lane will be witnessing the action from up close on March 14 and will keep the readers posted with a picture diary)</i></p>
175,1109YYSPORT2010030800000020100308000000100ARhttp://adedit.ad.atl.publicus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100308/SPORT/10030979910030979920100308100000000c1345ed436058210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____3a1b12455ff48210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____aa717fdfa2448210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRD30538fe912058210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____3a1b12455ff48210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____d0e98fe912058210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDImageArticle Asset captionArticle Asset option