It’s Valencia, and Louis Vuitton

AC Management and the current trustee of the America's Cup, the Société de Nautique de Genève, announced early this morning in Geneva that the 2007 America's Cup will be sailed on the Mediterranean Sea, off the Spanish city of Valenica. The city of approximately 800,000 people beat out three other finalists, Lisbon and Cascais, Portugal; Marseilles, France; and Naples, Italy, for the honor of hosting the regatta.While this will be the first time the America's Cup has been sailed in European waters, it will have a familiar look and sound to it. AC Management, which was split off from defending syndicat Alinghi months ago, also announced that Louis Vuitton, which has sponsored the challenger series for the last 20 years, will be the principal partner.Plans for racing during the build-up to the 32nd Cup contest were also revealed. According to AC Management CEO Michel Bonnefous, the first pre-regatta will be in September 2004. Two more events will follow that year. The pre-regattas are an opportunity to bring America's Cup racing to different venues and Bonnefous said each of the four final host-city candidates will be offered one of these events. Several pre-regattas are scheduled in 2005 and 2006, ahead of the 2007 opening Fleet Race regatta. The Louis Vuitton Cup challenger races will begin in April 2007, followed by the 32nd America's Cup Match. The first race is scheduled for the June 23, 2007.While Valencia isn't necessarily known for its winds the way Lisbon is, Bonnefous assured prospective challengers--15 from 8 countries were present at the announcement in Geneva--and the media that Valenica will deliver great racing."The wind conditions in Valencia are very, very good for what we want to do," Bonnefous said. "The wind is very reliable, very steady. We evaluated the worst-case scenario, in other words, how many days you cannot sail, due to the weather. In Auckland, over a period where we lost 15 days, in Valencia, at worst, we would lose just one day."