America's Cup: Challengers line up for sailing's glittering summer

The Louis Vuitton Cup starts this week to decide who will race Alinghi for the America's Cup. Stuart Alexander assesses the new wave in Valencia

To a backdrop of Palm Sunday church parades and pyrotechnics on the water, Valencia came out in droves yesterday as the new America's Cup harbour opened its doors here.

The top local sporting priority may still be the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea on Wednesday, but thousands came to see the kick-off of a glittering, €2bn (£1.4bn) summer of yacht racing.

It is the first time in the 156-year history of the Cup - first won by the yacht America in a race against Britain's best around the Isle of Wight - that it has been staged in any country other than that of the holder. The bid process to stage it, after Alinghi walloped the still-smarting Kiwis in 2003, was won by Spain's third biggest city and promises a huge immediate economic impact, a long-term boost to its standing, and some of the most glitzy parties in Europe.

On show were all the boats, their secrecy screens removed. At the head of the revamped harbour is the Swiss defender, Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi team, expected to pick Ed Baird over Peter Holmberg to helm this week's series of what could be weather-affected fleet races, starting tomorrow. Down the pit lane are the 11 challengers who through a high-pressure hand-to-hand fight for the Louis Vuitton Cup, will be whittled down to one to face Alinghi in the best-of-nine series starting in June.

Hundreds of millions have been spent by the city as part of a general facelift. Each of the teams has spent tens of millions designing and building boats and facilities; about €120m apiece in the case of Alinghi and BMW Oracle down to less than €20m for the cash-strapped Sicilian-based +39, for whom the British Olympic medallists Iain Percy and Ian Walker run the back of the boat.

The wonderfully talented crew and others have often been left wondering when or whether they would be paid, and it has been impossible to prepare thoroughly, especially with a new mast, a boat they still feel will be genuinely quick.

Also pacing the pavements with long and expensive shopping lists are Sir Keith Mills and Mike Sanderson, the man just announced as director of the Origin team to represent Britain next time round.

All the secrecy of design was supposed to be swept away as the teams had to remove the huge screens which hide the underwater shapes. The South Africans jumped the gun a night early in a headline-grabbing move which had the local mayor, Rita Barbera, who is seeking re-election next month, sharing the stage with an elephant, meant to represent Africa, but with distinctly Indian ears.

If the intricacies left most of the visitors bewildered yesterday, clearly the most radical is the China team, with wholesale French input, while Italy's Luna Rossa showed the biggest change of heart between its first and second boats, Alinghi the most confidence, and Team New Zealand, where Britain's Ben Ainslie seems destined for the bench, the most menace.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album