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Scuttlebutt News:

A Butthead Gets Into the Act

(July 5, 2006) I just don't understand what has happened to a lot of American sailors. This continual talk about the insignificance of the Cup races is hogwash. I'll admit that when they dropped the residency requirements, I felt that something important was taken out of the competition. But I've had to rethink my position after going to Spain and watching Act 11 (May 2006)

First, the city. This old New Englander just couldn't stop smiling after getting off the plane into 22C weather (still not sure exactly how warm it was, suffice to say very comfortable). And there at the airport was an America's Cup booth, with someone who seemed to be able to speak all languages giving out information about the races, tourist boats, bus routes, and even told me where I should have lunch. The city was absolutely beautiful, a combination of old (and I mean really old, like Moorish old) and new (again really new - see pictures of the City of Science), clean, clocks everywhere (not sure the Spanish pay any attention to them), a bull ring that had a ball park feel and very nice people. The story about the toothpicks and honor, is everywhere. A late city where families from toddlers to great grandparents stroll the streets at 10pm and it seems there is a rule about not going home until it gets light.

But the racing is what I came for. Taking a bus to the Port was simple. Taxis were available, but why bother, buses were easy and dropped you off right at the America's Cup port. Walk pass the security entrance and you enter an incredible sight. An entire basin set up for the America's Cup. The first thing you see is an enormous New Zealand flag flying from their base, then a Swedish flag, Spanish, French, Italian, and then German, and then a boat painted like a dragon. No nationality interest? I have a hard time believing that. In the other direction, Luna Rossa had a flag that almost matched the Kiwis, then the national flag of BMW Oracle, RSA, and the French. Many spectators were walking around looking like they were attending a soccer match, dressed in their team's uniform and then there seemed like hundreds of beautiful women walking around in Mascalzone Latino Tee shirts (I wonder where they found all these women). Horns and cowbells were the noisemakers of choice.

Got on to a full spectator boat (thanks) and went out for the races. The boat reflected the city, with a full spectrum of people, from young to grandparents, and no nationality interest? Tell that to my Kiwi neighbors, who yelled back and forth with the cowbell clanking Swiss, the singing Italians and the Hola yelling Spanish. All in good fun. Saw some fantastic weather mark roundings, and got close to the boats as they set up and returned to port but I will say the measures to insure fair racing, limited what we could see. Hope they can fix that.

Back on shore and walking around afterwards, you see the differences between the teams. From Luna Rossa with its escalator up to their Prada like shop, to Shosholoza with a small shop with designs painted onto bare concrete floor. But the spirit of the sailors, and the effort they put into racing is the same. It's a fantastic sight, a fantastic scene, filled with incredibly talented people trying to win a simple cup that represents so much.

And thanks to the wonderful people at Team Shosholoza who were so welcoming and friendly. And I don't hold it against the Kiwis that they kicked me out of their compound. - Peter Brown

PS - It's said that the Holy Grail is in Valencia.

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