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Europeans  Compete to Host 2007 America's Cup Race - 2003-11-24


Spanish authorities in Valencia believe the area's strong, nonstop winds from April to October give them the decisive edge in the competition to stage the 2007 America's Cup yachting race.

The host will be announced Wednesday in Geneva, with Marseille, France; Naples, Italy; and Lisbon, Portugal also in the running. The race is normally held in the home country of the champion, but landlocked Switzerland is ineligible under the rules, as the race must take place in the open sea.

Valencia has a strong sailing tradition bolstered by a yacht club whose 4,500 members include King Juan Carlos. Valencia officials claim it has the best regatta conditions in the world, with the so-called "Garbi" winds blowing 10-15 knots almost uninterrupted from April to October.

Winds are seen as a key factor in choosing the America's Cup site when a European port will host the event for the first time since 1851.

Naples officials are boasting their geographical and tourist locations, including four- and five-star hotels. Lisbon's fishing village of Cascais almost always has wind but fishermen are protesting the event.

Marseille bidders are selling their port's easy access. It is only a three and a-half hour ride away by high-speed train from Geneva, or less than one hour by plane.

Meantime, America's Cup holder Alinghi has announced it has signed a top American helmsman, Peter Holmberg, to join the team in the bid to retain the trophy. The 43-year-old native of the U.S. Virgin Islands skippered the yacht Oracle that lost to Alinghi in last year's America's Cup.

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