Bertarellis enjoy St. Tropez by numbers

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The Independent Online

Bertarelli brother and sister, Ernesto and Donna, escaped from the tribulations of the America's cup yesterday to go racing at the Voiles de St. Tropez in the south of France yesterday on the 66-foot Numbers.

It was also an opportunity for his America's Cup skipper and tactician Brad Butterworth to look at a number of potential crew come the day when the Cup is back on an even keel.

One of his stalwart finest, Murray Jones, was full of praise afterwards. "You should have seen Donna smoking Paul Cayard," he said.

And it was an opportunity for a 52-foot modified TP52, Ran, helmed by Britain's Tim Powell, aided by a gnarly bunch which includes Ray Davies, of Team New Zealand, on tactics, Steve Hayles as navigator, Andy Hemmings trimming the headsails and Lou Varney on the main, to give everyone a hard time.

The boat is owned by Nicholas Zenstrom, one of the founders of the Skype communications system, and the crew was confident that, after the handicaps were worked out, they would close to the money. The results system in St. Tiorpez is not lightning quick.

This is the last regatta for Numbers before the boat is sold, and the last for Bertarelli's Alinghi crew before working out, next month, a programme to stray match fit and racing sharp. Much will depend on the continuing talks between Alinghi and Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle, which yesterday lodged a 45-page deposition in the New York Courts of Appeal.

Yesterday the team made it clear that the word "evolution" in the Alinghi statement about the future of the Cup did not mean that BMW Oracle had dropped either its wish to return to the 2007 protocol for the structure of a multi-challenge series not its offer to drop all legal proceedings if Alinghi agreed to that as part of a basis of talks about the next Cup.

"We always planned to finish the year here," said Butterworth on a sunny dockside. "These races are always a lot of fun and the team likes to get together, especially after things went so well in Porto Cervo (Sardinia). That made Ernesto keen to do this regatta."

The start had been a hectic affair, "we were struggling to get away, the conditions started off light but we ended up with 15 knots."

Looking forward he was still hopeful that a multi-challenge event for America's Cup challengers could be arranged for next year, which is something that is already in the offing in the form of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland.

The organiser of that, Bruno Troublé, was on hand to sail in the super luxury Wally class. There were problems when the planned race had to be abandoned because someone had forgotten to lay the turning mark. But a second race, a straightforward upwind and downwind affair, was duly won by the boat on which Troublé was sailing, L'Oreal boss Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' 94-foot Magic Carpet. That, at least, made the day worth it.

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