America's Cup: Toughest race of all - to match Alinghi

To hear Stuart Alexander's podcast from Valencia, click here

The tears will not just be before bedtime, they will start at breakfast and run all day when the America's Cup regatta, in the form of the Louis Vuitton Cup elimination series, starts here in Valencia tomorrow.

"This is a festival of misery and sado-masochism," says Luca Devoti, the ever-bubbling boss of the cash-strapped and so far luckless ugly duckling of the trio of Italian teams, +39. He makes no bones about the pressure that all of these 11 challenger teams from nine countries will face over the next 21 days, in which they all have to complete 20 races. It is, he says, as intense as the Tour de France.

It is also as nerve-racking as a relegation battle. At the end of two rounds in which they all sail against each other once, only the top four will go through to the challenger semi-finals. Seven, after the sweat of up to three years' work and the expenditure of millions and millions of euros, will suddenly have no reason to be ready for a working day that can run from 6am to 10pm.

As Grant Dalton, chief executive (and a sailing member) of Team New Zealand, says: "You don't want to end up in a string of must-win races. That would be a pretty curly place to be."

Few, if any, teams have consulted the sports psychology department at the university of life. "We are just concentrating on the job in hand," says Paul Standbridge of Shosholoza from South Africa. "In any case, there may be some life after death if a syndicate decide they want to keep going and go to any of the regattas which some are trying to organise for the autumn."

Most people have decided that there are three shoe-ins for the semi-finals: Team New Zealand, BMW Oracle, flying the US flag, and Italy's Luna Rossa, whose skipper, Francesco de Angelis, expects very tricky weather during this first week.

There will be a battle royal for the fourth slot, but the struggle will mainly be for internal consumption; do not expect a dark horse to gallop to victory.

The America's Cup has become one huge corporate hospitality circus and within it the host city, where not all of its citizens are in support of lavishing their hard-earned taxes on what they see as already a rich man's sport, has its own battle for prominence against Barcelona, Madrid and Seville. While the city is rightly proud of the number of people going through the turnstiles into the America's Cup port and village, doing so safely is a real problem.

The city's mayor, Rita Barbera, up for re-election next month and seeking to capitalise on the glow of bringing the event to the city, has had previously only to improve her performance in terms of stinking drains and dirty streets. But those streets are now much more dangerous as gangs of thieves seem to have free rein to attack and rob people - and foreign visitors, members of the 12 competing teams and the overseas media are juicy targets.

What the world should be able to see over the next few weeks is top technology, top skill, top athleticism and some really close racing - as long as the so far disappointing weather co-operates.

The racing between teams like Mascalzone Latino of Italy, Victory Challenge of Sweden and the local Desafio Español should be cut-throat. Standbridge is right to feel that the debutant South Africans are in with a shout on Shosholoza. And there will be upsets.

No one will know if +39, with British Olympic medallists Iain Percy on the helm and Ian Walker calling tactics, will be able to make the start until they are there. Their new mast was broken in a racing collision recently and repairs are time-consuming, difficult and expensive. Everyone expects the Chinese and German teams to bring up the rear. And the bookies have stopped taking bets on who will be the eventual winner of America's Cup 32. The current holders, with an automatic place in the final, Switzerland's Alinghi, are runaway favourites to win the auld mug for a second time.

To hear Stuart Alexander's podcast from Valencia, click here .

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried