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Scuttlebutt: The 2006 Season Begins

Peter Isler submits this report to Scuttlebutt, providing his insight on the events surounding the build up toward the 2007 America's Cup. Photos by Gilles Martin-Raget.

March 13, 2006: Spring weather has arrived to Valencia and the sailing conditions have quickly changed from frigid to delightful. Since I was last here in October with BMW ORACLE Racing, there has been a massive amount of construction and development around the Port America's Cup. Team Bases are being built out, but the biggest change is the new harbor entrance... a 1/4 mile channel cut that enables teams to leave the dock and be sailing on the race course in less than 15 minutes time (versus the one-hour tow previously). It's part of a massive public works' project that will greatly change the face of Valencia's shorefront.

About half the teams are currently in residence here in Valencia. BMW ORACLE Racing has been back since January and sailing since February. Team Germany has trained here all winter - the only team to do so. +39 has had a few winter sessions, but is currently on a break. Mascalzone, Espana, and Luna Rossa are also now in operation, and Shosholoza made their 2006 debut this week.

There's been a lot of informal racing going on amongst the challengers during this period. We've enjoyed "race days" with everyone here. So the spirit of friendly competition/cooperation continues in America's Cup world... at least amongst the challengers, but 2006 has arrived with a new "fashion"... skirts are "in" again, and most teams will keep their secrets covered for the next year.

Except for the South African's, teams are all still sailing their "old" boats (most, like us, are in "one boat" mode), but we expect to start seeing some new AC boats in the coming months. Our new boat, USA 87, arrived from Seattle by an Antonov cargo jet a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to support from DHL, we shaved three weeks off the delivery time. We are looking forward to its christening later this month and getting out on the water and tuning it up against USA 76. Hopefully the mild weather will continue so that we can sail in the sea breeze conditions that will likely dominate the racing (April July) in 2007.

Peter Isler, Navigator, BMW ORACLE Racing Team

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