Wednesday December 13, 2006

American Paul Cayard has joined Spanish America’s Cup team Desafio Espanol as sport and technical adviser.

Cayard has sailed in five Cup regattas and won the Louis Vuitton Cup in 1992 as skipper on Italian boat Il Moro di Venezia, beating New Zealand in the process.

Espanol’s sporting and technical director, Agustin Zulueta, said he believed Cayard’s experience would help their team to make the semifinals of the Louis Vuitton challenger series which starts on April 16.

Cayard would oversee the syndicate’s second yacht, ESP97, and it was hoped his inclusion would help raise the level of their crew.

The syndicate’s sailors are mostly Spanish, with several international crew including Karol Jablonski and Jesper Radich. Their afterguard features New Zealander John Cutler.

Cayard is understood to be helming the syndicate’s B-boat. But it is unclear whether he will continue to once the challenger series starts.

The Spanish are fourth in the challenger rankings and widely tipped as semifinalists, alongside Emirates Team NZ, Oracle and Luna Rossa.

Meanwhile, in Dubai defenders Alinghi are wrapping up their first period of training for the first event of their defender trials series. The trials continue in Dubai next month, then move to Valencia, and will help determine the crew that will race in next year’s Cup.

The most eagerly awaited decision is who will helm the boat – Peter Holmberg, Ed Baird or Jochen Schuemann. In this week’s trials of eight races, Baird will helm one boat and Holmberg the other.

THE TOP SIX

Challenger rankings:

*Team New Zealand – 125

* Oracle – 123

* Luna Rossa – 118

* Desafio Espanol – 85

* Mascalzone Latina – 73

* Victory – 68