Wed, Jul 23, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Bertarelli, Ellison to skipper boats in owners' Moet Cup

AP , GENEVA

Swiss biotech baron Ernesto Bertarelli and American software tycoon Larry Ellison will skipper the boats they bankroll in a regatta between America's Cup holder Alinghi and challenger Oracle BMW Racing in September.

They will compete in a five-race "owner-driver" series as part of the Moet Cup, taking place in San Francisco Bay Sept. 15-20. Bertarelli also will act as navigator to Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts in a seven-race ``pro-driver'' series, with the results of both series being combined to determine the winner.

"It has long been a dream of many people in San Francisco to have the America's Cup boats in the bay," Oracle helmsman Gavin Brady said at a news conference in Geneva, Alinghi's base. "Being Larry's home water, it is nice for him to bring the whole show along to show the people of San Francisco what it's all about."

It is the first time the boats will meet since Alinghi's 5-1 victory in the best-of-nine final of the Louis Vuitton Cup in January for the right to compete for the America's Cup.

Alinghi will race SUI-64, the boat that beat defending champion Team New Zealand last March to win the America's Cup in Auckland. Oracle will use USA-76, the last boat to beat Alinghi during the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Ellison, chairman of software maker Oracle, competed in the early stages of the Louis Vuitton Cup while Bertarelli, founder of biotech firm Serono, was navigator for Alinghi.

The races will be between Treasure Island and the Golden Gate Bridge, within viewing distance of Pier 39 and San Francisco's Marina District.

The event is sponsored by champagne producer Moet & Chandon, and the trophy is a huge silver champagne bottle.

Organizers hope the regatta will be the first of annual meetings between America's Cup hopefuls in the run-up to Alinghi's defense of the title in 2007 in Europe.

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