Doubts remain over Naples staging America’s Cup World Series regatta


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The Independent Online

Further doubt over the viability of staging the next America’s Cup World Series regatta in Naples next April was cast by the decision to unload all the boats and equipment in Valencia instead of taking it to Naples this weekend.

“The cargo ship that has served as the main mode of transport between America's Cup World Series venues arrived this week in Valencia, where it will discharge its cargo”, said an official statement.

"We took the decision to land the equipment in Valencia, after considering several factors," explained regatta director Iain Murray. "There is a possibility for a number of teams to train together in Valencia, given the local infrastructure from the previous America's Cups there."

Following a three-month stop in Valencia, all the equipment will be shipped out from Valencia in the middle of March, in time for the start of the world series event in Naples, Italy on April 7, 2012, said America’s Cup Race Management.

Previously Murray, now firmly in charge of overall management of the America’s Cup on behalf of Russell Coutts, had said: “The bulk of the equipment is going to Naples,” But he discounted any thoughts of using Valencia as an alternative, saying: “We have built very strong standards in broadcast and regatta management, so for us to go back [to Valencia] is not really in our interests of promoting our assets of the America’s Cup going forwards.”

There is an investigation being carried out by the Naples city authorities over the suitability of the original Bagnoli site for the regatta village because of the possibility that toxic waste has been buried in the vicinity. The smaller Via Caracciolo site is the favoured alternative.

British Olympic silver medallist Chris Draper has left Team Korea, one of eight challengers contesting the AC45 series ahead of the launch next July of the first of the 72-foot wing-powered catamarans in which the 2013 America’s Cup will be sailed.

Team Korea says it will announce a new skipper to take over for the Italian regattas in April and May. The Italian, Prada-backed Luna Rossa will begin training with Team New Zealand in Auckland in January as it builds its first AC72 in collaboration with the Kiwis.

In the Volvo round the world race France’s Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, led the fleet into the ‘stealth zone’ which hides the positions of the five remaining boats – the damaged Chinese entry Sanya is in Madagascar for repairs - as part of protecting them from Somalian pirates.

They are all heading towards the Doldrums with a clear difference of opinion about the most favourable strip to cross. Groupama was tending to the west, with second-placed Puma (Ken Read/USA) heading east, crossing Groupama’s tracks.

Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), the third boat, and Camper (Chris Nicholson/AUS) are clearly intent on shooting through to the east, while Ian Walker and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are still formulating their plans, 187.5 nautical miles behind the leading boat.