Geneva, Switzerland: The America's Cup community came to Geneva on Wednesday to listen as the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), the Trustee of the America's Cup, revealed that Valencia, Spain will be the Host City for the 32nd America's Cup.
Michel Bonnefous, the Chief Executive Officer of AC Management opened the ceremony by speaking about many of the new elements that will be a part of the 32nd America's Cup, including a full programme of racing beginning in September 2004.
"There will be a more dynamic race format including a new schedule of pre-regattas," Bonnefous said. "Racing will begin in less than a year!"
The first pre-regatta will be in September, 2004. Two more events will follow that year. The pre-regattas are an opportunity to bring America's Cup racing to different venues and Bonnefous said each of the four final Host City candidates will be offered one of these events.
Several pre-regattas are scheduled in 2005 and 2006, ahead of the 2007 opening Fleet Race regatta. The Louis Vuitton Cup challenger races will begin in April 2007, followed by the 32nd America's Cup Match. The first race is scheduled for the 23rd of June, 2007.
Before the identity of the host city was made known, Bonnefous was joined on stage by Yves Carcelle, the President of Louis Vuitton, and they announced that Louis Vuitton would be the principal partner of the 32nd America's Cup, continuing a 20-year relationship between the luxury goods maker, and the world's most prestigious sailing race.
"I am overjoyed," Carcelle said. "The challengers will again race for the Louis Vuitton Cup!"
For the first time, Louis Vuitton will be the principal partner for the America's Cup Match, in addition to the pre-regattas, and the Challenger races. Louis Vuitton Watches will be the Official Timer for all events, and the Louis Vuitton Cup will be awarded to the winner of the Challenger Selection Series.
Among the crowd of over 300 people, representatives from 15 prospective challengers from eight countries were present, along with key members from the four remaining bid cities: Lisbon, (POR), Marseille, (FRA), Naples, (ITA), and Valencia, (ESP).
"Each city has worked really hard throughout the bidding process," Bonnefous said, as a video played highlights from each city. "They have all done an outstanding job. The entire America's Cup community owes them its gratitude and respect."
Then, shortly before noon, Pierre-Yves Firmenich, the Commodore of the Société Nautique de Genève, ended the suspense that has been building over the past nine months by revealing the identity of the Host City of the 32nd America's Cup.
To a long ovation, Firmenich revealed Valencia, Spain would play host to the 32nd America's Cup.
"I think that both for Valencia and for Spain, to be able to host the America's Cup for the first time in Europe makes us very proud" said José Salinas, the head of the Valencia bid committee. "At the same time, we have to measure up to this difficult task. We have to deliver the best America's Cup in history, for competitors, for participants and for the public at large. We will try to do it with our best efforts and I think this is a big step forward for Valencia and for Spain."
Michel Bonnefous explained the main consideration in making the decision was to find a venue with consistent weather conditions to ensure the racing proceeds as scheduled.
"The wind conditions in Valencia are very, very good for what we want to do," Bonnefous said. "The wind is very reliable, very steady. We evaluated the worst-case scenario, in other words, how many days you cannot sail, due to the weather. In Auckland, over a period where we lost 15 days, in Valencia, at worst, we would lose just one day."
Shortly after the conclusion of the press conference, a delegation consisting of prospective challengers, media, representatives from Valencia and the America's Cup was scheduled to depart by plane for Valencia where they will be met by the Mayor.
Mayor Rita Barberá will host a reception at the Town Hall on Wednesday night to celebrate the arrival of the America's Cup. On Thursday morning, the delegation is scheduled to tour Valencia, with specific attention on the facilities that will soon make up the next home for the America's Cup family. A press conference for local media will follow at 11:00 at the Palacio de Congresos.