Louis Vuitton Pacific Series: Shosholoza training in Valencia

Monday, 12 January 2009

South Africa’s Team Shosholoza plans to start 2009 on a high “down under”, in New Zealand, when they come up against nine crack international teams from eight countries competing in the first ever Louis Vuitton Pacific Match Racing Series starting on 30 January in Auckland.

The new series has attracted the cream of the America’s Cup including 2007 winners the Swiss Team Alinghi, runners up Emirates Team New Zealand, Italy's Luna Rossa and the USA's BMW Oracle Racing. Britain's Team Origin, France's K-Challenge, China Team, the new Damiani Italia and a recently formed Greek Challenge make up the rest of the contesting fleet.

The teams will take turns in racing one-on-one on Team New Zealand's yachts NZL 92 and NZL 84 and BMW Oracle Racing's yachts USA 87 and USA 98. There will be six races each day in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour and a daily draw to decide which yacht competing teams will sail that day.

Meanwhile despite the icy cold spell in Europe, the Shosholoza team selected for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series has arrived at the South African base in Valencia, Spain, where they are holding an intensive 10 day sail training session aboard yacht Shosholoza RSA 83 before heading south to New Zealand.

"Our first day back on Shosholoza was a little tough because the sea was bouncy and choppy and very very cold! We left the dock in miserable seven degree gloom and rain but the guys were eager to get going and the weather has improved daily since then," said Shosholoza skipper and helmsman Paolo Cian.

The training session in Valencia will also include practice races against Damiani Italia, Luna Rossa and Team Alinghi who are also in Valencia for sail training. There will be a further week's practice racing for all the teams from 24 - 29th January in New Zealand.

Shosholoza is at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series after making her debut at the 2007 America's Cup. The team was the first ever challenger from the African continent in the 156 year history of sailing's most prestigious contest. Celebrated for their gutsy, "can do" attitude the team, comprising mainly amateur club sailors with no previous America's Cup experience, felt victorious as first timers to bow out of the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup in 7th place ahead of the French, Italy's +39, the Germans and China.

Italy's Paolo Cian and Tommaso Chieffi were among those who brought America’s Cup expertise and international professional experience to the fledgling South African team in Valencia and they will be on board again in Auckland as skipper and tactician respectively. Shosholoza's make up in New Zealand is hence more international with South African and Italian sailors making up the rest of the team.

Cian and his crack match racing team who ensured a high profile presence for Team Shosholoza on the 2008 World Match Racing Tour form the core of the Shosholoza crew in Auckland. Cian is No 4 in the Open Ranking of the ISAF world match racing rankings after holding the no 3 spot throughout 2008 - only slipping to 4th with the final rankings release on 17th December. He is currently 7th on the 2008 World Championship Leaderboard of the World Match Racing Tour.

Shosholoza sailors from the 2007 America’s Cup on board for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series include Charles Nankin (mast man), David Rae (main trimmer), Solomon Dipeere (pitman) and grinders Reinhardt Rauscher, Camron Wills and Moctar Fall. Jo Lees will manage the shore activities. New to the team is Zimbabwean born Vernon Neville, a top athlete who grew up in South Africa and later became a professional sailor. Neville was a grinder with Italian Louis Vuitton Cup finalists Luna Rossa in the 2007 America's Cup and previously with the America's Cup challenger, Team Prada.

Shosholoza founding managing director Captain Salvatore Sarno said Shosholoza had a tremendous 2008 even though continued court action between Alinghi and BMW Oracle keeps the America's Cup on hold.  

“We should have already been well into preliminary regattas for the 33rd America’s Cup. But new and unexpected opportunities such as the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series have come our way. They have allowed us to bring some members of the 2007 America’s Cup team together again and still generate excellent exposure for our sponsors MSC Crociere and Breil Milano.

"We are deeply grateful to them for remaining loyal to their investment in us and we are confident 2009 will bring more great opportunities for Team Shosholoza.,” said Captain Sarno.

Team Shosholoza raced as a VIP guest entry in the Naples Velalonga in Southern Italy in June 2008 and at the Trieste Barcolana in Northern Italy in October last year. Both events brought extensive headline coverage around the world for the South African team and were important in terms of exposure for the team's sponsors both of which have their headquarters in Italy.

Team Shosholoza crew list for Louis Vuitton Pacific Series
               NAME        POSITION

1 Pietro Mantovani:     Bowman
2 Giuseppe Leonardi:  Mid-Bow
3 Charles Nankin:       Mast Man
4 Antar  Vigna:           Pit Man
5 Solomon Dipeere:    Pit Ass.
6 Giuseppe Brizzi:      Pit asist
7 Massimo Gherarducci: Back Up Pit Area
8 Massimo Paradiso:   Starboard Grinder
9 Reinhardt Rauscher: Port Grinder
10 Salvatore Pavoni:    Up-wind Trimmer
11 Pierluigi De Felice:  Down-wind Trimmer
12 Camron Wills:         Mid Grinder
13 Pierluigi Fornelli:     Traveller
14 David Rae:              Main Trimmer
15 Paolo Cian:             Helmsman/Skipper
16 Tommaso Chieffi:    Tactician
17 Cameron Appleton:  Strategist
18 Francesco Mongelli: Navigator
19 Andrea Pavan:         Aft Grinder
20 Moctar Fall:             Back up Grinder
21 Vernon Neville:         Back up grinder
22 Salvatore Sarno:      Team Principal
23 Jo Lees:                 Shore Team Manager

Di Meek

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Last Updated ( Monday, 12 January 2009 )