With less than three weeks to go to America’s Cup Naples, construction along Naples Lungomare is well underway. The event’s infrastructure is scheduled to be completed by the first week of April and new traffic patterns in Naples go into affect Monday, March 26th, 2012.

Meanwhile however, the America’s Cup organization has changed the race format, shortening the official racing period from seven days to five. According to America’s Cup Officials:

A revised format for the event has been issued which provides a balanced schedule of match racing, fleet racing and speed trials across the five days of competition that climaxes on Sunday April 15 when the winner of the Naples Fleet Race Championship is crowned.

Two things stand out in the new format – each fleet race, at 35 minutes, is longer than in prior events, and the Fleet Racing Championship will be determined by performance across all nine scheduled races, as opposed to the previous, winner-take-all race on the final Sunday.

WIth all of the fleet races counting towards the final score, teams will need to be at the top of their game from the first start gun. Each race is critical to remain in contention for the Championship heading into Sunday’s big finale.

Regatta Director Iain Murray issued the changes to the format: “The fleet race on the final Sunday (April 15) is the most valuable race on the schedule in terms of points, with the scoring heavily weighted to that last race. But now, all of the other feet races will also count towards determining the overall Fleet Racing Champion in Naples. We think this strikes a good balance between rewarding consistently strong performances over the five days of racing as well as energizing the crews and fans alike with a critical final race on Sunday.

But the show will go on Easter Weekend in Naples. Racing teams will arrive as planned for open training on the weekend of April 7th -8th, with some teams arriving even earlier to begin sailing “ahead of open training.” Naples America’s Cup Race Village will be open April 7th through April 15th with nightly entertainment and the opening ceremonies will be held on Easter weekend as originally planned.

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