Friday, February 23, 2007

Red Bull Party

Air show at boat party: Victory Challenge Press Release: (With my pictures)

The official party for Järv (SWE 96) opened with an airshow and parachute jumping at the America’s Cup harbour. Järv (SWE 96) is Victory Challenge’s new boat, built for the 32nd challenge of the world’s most prestigious sailing sport trophy. The entire team stood lined up on deck, as the boat, bathed in strobe light was towed slowly through the harbour to the base where 600 guests were waiting. It was a big day for Victory Challenge: It was the first time SWE 96 would be on show outside the team, and it was the first time the hospitality section, the new roof terrace and the top floor of the base would be used. And it was the first time the gigantic neon signs on the facade of the base would be lit. It happened as there were 39 days left until the final pre-regatta, Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, which precedes the challenger series Louis Vuitton Cup that starts on 16th April. There was already a queue outside when the doors opened at 1800 even though everybody knew that the official presentation of SWE 96 would not start until 19:30. Then the surprises started.

Radio commentator and previous America’s Cup sailor, British Mark Covell, who was master of ceremonies, requested the guests to “look up”. There was a reason! First there was an air show with Austrian pilot Hannes Arch, who otherwise competes in Red Bull Air Race World Series. He performed air acrobatics above the America’s Cup harbour, and exceedingly close to Victory Challenge’s base.

Then Spanish base jumper Juan Ventura Sánchez followed, jumping out of an aircraft in a parachute, falling towards the base, and landing in the water just next to the pier. Once the sun had set, it was time for SWE 96. The boat – with the entire crew – had been moored in the connecting canal between the harbour and the competition tracks since before the guest’s arrival.

Powerful strobe lights were directed at the yacht as it was towed to the base. All of the 39 man crew stood lined up and received a round of applause next to the pier. Once SWE 96 had moored, the crew was introduced, one by one, from Pepe Ribes at the bow to skipper and helmsman Magnus Holmberg. All disembarked – except one. When the time came for grinder David Carr to be introduced he threw himself into the water amidst great cheers. One of the containers at the base had been transformed to a stage, where the band The Harakiris performed.

In between Mark Covell interviewed designer Mani Frers, shore manager Sam Murch and Magnus Holmberg about the design process, and the boat building. At the end, the skipper and helmsman finally replied to the question so many had asked since SWE 96 was launched:“What is the name of the boat?”“Järv or wolverine in English, which is one of the least known predators and remarkably strong of its size and can take out much bigger teams, sorry, animals,” Magnus Holmberg replied. The official part of the introduction was now over and the message to the guests and the Victory Challenge team was clear: “Time to party!”

Bert Willborg/Victory Challenge

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