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14 February 2003

Cindy Crawford starts countdown to the America's Cup

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<br/> <br/> <br/>Supermodel Cindy Crawford today arrived in the City of <br/>Sails to start the countdown to the first race in the 2003 America's Cup. Having attended an official OMEGA press conference at the America's Cup media centre, Cindy visited the nearby OMEGA Boutique, where she received a special Valentine's Day gift. In the evening, she attended an OMEGA gala dinner together with numerous VIP guests. <br/> <br/> <br/> <br/>

Before attending the press conference, Cindy Crawford visited the Team New Zealand base where she met fellow OMEGA ambassador Dean Barker and saw NZL 82 – Team New Zealand's yacht for the defence of the America's Cup. After a quick introduction to match race sailing by Barker, Cindy then crossed the harbour to the media centre, where she was welcomed as guest of honour at a press conference to discuss the international significance of the America's Cup and its important contribution to New Zealand and Auckland's economy, culture and tourism. Guest speakers were John Banks, the Mayor of Auckland, Trevor Mallard, Minister for the America's Cup, George Hickton, Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand and Tony Thomas, Executive Director of America's Cup 2003. Cindy admitted that she was looking forward to seeing the first America's Cup race: "I've never been so close to the action before and to see this for the start of sailing's most prestigious competition will be an added bonus. From what I hear, the two teams are very evenly matched, which should make the races very exciting and push both teams to the limit."

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<br/>Furthermore, Cindy confirmed rumours that she will be at the start of the first race, where she will be keeping a watchful eye on Official Timekeeper OMEGA's clock on board the committee boat. As such, she will have an unrivalled view of all the action.

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<br/>After starting the official countdown to the first race, which is scheduled to start tomorrow, Saturday 15th February, in the Hauraki Gulf under perfect sailing conditions, Cindy went to greet the crowds assembled outside the OMEGA Boutique at the entrance to the America's Cup village at Viaduct Harbour. Before entering the boutique, local children patriotically wearing the colours of Team New Zealand presented Cindy with roses as a special Valentine's Day gift.

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<br/>The same evening, Cindy attended an OMEGA gala dinner at the Swedish base attended by numerous Auckland luminaries. In her welcome address, she summarised her impressions of her first day in Auckland: "Starting the official countdown to the first America's Cup race brought home to me the importance of this event for Auckland, for New Zealand and for all the countries involved. I think the crowds we will see tomorrow will show just how much the public appreciate not only the effort that everyone has put into the competition, but also the fundamental principle behind the America's Cup. By all accounts we are going to see some very exciting racing and I'm looking forward to seeing my first close-up taste of the ultimate in match race sailing."

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