Sailing: Tempers fray as America's Cup turns up heat

Vibrant Valencia has turned into violent Valencia and today it will become vicious Valencia, as the serious business of knockout trials for the 11 challengers for the America's Cup begins.

Gangs of street robbers have invaded the city and are making life a misery for foreigners as security is concentrated on the bases around the newly developed Port America's Cup. The shine on what should be a glittering event is being tarnished.

Inside those bases, finishing touches have been made to the yachts which today begin two concentrated series of one-on-one matches for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The battle to make the semi-final cut in three weeks' time will be unrelenting. Only the winner has the right to line up against the Swiss defender, Alinghi.

There are squabbles and wind-ups around the dock. A Maori flag has been flying over the Alinghi compound opposite Team New Zea-land, stirring memories of how they were treated by extremists in 2003.

The America's Cup has always been a cut-throat game and this 32nd defence seems unlikely to break that mould. There are, however, major changes.

What claims, at 156 years and counting, to be sport's oldest trophy is being presented in a new, more populist and commercial guise. The format, which includes a lot of pre-cup racing, was dreamed up by the defender and agreed to by Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle, as challenger of record.

A tightrope has to be walked in preserving precious equipment, especially sails, and people. TNZ's Grant Dalton says: "Unless you manage the team carefully you will be fried." He still denies that the British Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie will skipper any races in place of Dean Barker.

No fewer than 187 crew will dock out each day but only one woman, the American Katie Pettibone, with France's Areva team, is likely to be among them. The strain, both physical and mental, of continuous racing - 20 events over the next 22 days - is made worse by success, including the major hurdle of having to peak twice in less than four weeks for the team which eventually races Alinghi.

That should be either Team New Zealand or BMW Oracle, who are both blooding the newest of their two boats, but either could be sideswiped by unforeseen problems. At least TNZ should not suffer the humiliation of a near-sinking and a dismasting, as happened when their 2003 defence fell apart in front of a stunned Auckland faithful. Prime Minister Helen Clark joins them for an "18th man" ride today in their race against the fast-improving Mascalzone Latino of Italy.

The shape of things to come was indicated by what is likely to be the backmarker, the debutant Team China. "We are determined to be in the America's Cup for the long term," said the syndicate head, Chaoyong Wang .

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam