Optimism over staging of America's Cup

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The Independent Online

A confident prediction that "there is light at the end of the tunnel" and that the America's Cup will be staged in February was made by Russell Coutts, skipper of the American challenger BMW Oracle today.

As his team packs up its 90-foot trimaran USA for shipment from San Diego through the Panama Canal to a destination yet to be confirmed, he also backed a proposal from the defending holder, Switzerland's Alinghi, to extend the number of races from the currently designated best of three to a best of seven.

Coutts, three times a winner of the cup with Team New Zealand and an Olympic gold medallist is also confident that the latest round of wrangling in the New York courts will confirm Valencia as the host city. Talks are due to be held there between the city authorities and the two teams on Thursday.

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The Alinghi team, while still insisting that the event should be held in the United Arab Emirates, is thought to be preparing to move its training camp from Ras al-Khaimah and take its catamaran through the Suez Canal by ship on 23 December.

Michel Desjoyeaux, winner for the second time of the Vendee Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race, was named French Sailor of the Year at the Paris Boat Show.