Alinghi teams up with F1 team Red Bull Racing for America's Cup comeback
Swiss sailing team Alinghi has confirmed that it is entering the 37th America’s Cup, in a new team partnership as Alinghi Red Bull Racing.
Team founder Ernesto Bertarelli introduced the announcement saying, “Eleven years after winning the America’s Cup, we’re back. We never quite left.”
Bertarelli’s team was the first to win on its Cup debut in 2003, as well as being the first European team ever to win the famous trophy. They then hosted the hugely successful Valencia America’s Cup in 2007, which attracted 11 challengers.
“Winning the Cup changes you,” commented Bertarelli. “But when we stopped racing in the Cup we didn’t stop competing. We always had in mind that we would come back.”
Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s F1 connection
Alinghi is the second team to confirm an alliance with a Formula 1 team. (There are also rumours circulating that an Italian Luna Rossa challenge is in the wings and will feature the Ferrari motorsport team).
Unlike the recently announced pairing of Challenger of Record INEOS Britannia with Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, which is a partnership between two existing teams, this one is being touted as the formation of one new team. “It’s completely different from what I have seen elsewhere,” says Bertarelli.
Red Bull Racing last weekend saw driver Max Verstappen controversially crowned the 2021 F1 World Champion in a showdown against Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton. Christian Horner, Team Principal, said: “We’re going to take Formula 1 DNA and use it within the boat. We’re going up against Mercedes and INEOS on the water, and maybe Ferrari as well, it’s tremendously exciting.”
Adrian Newey is Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer, and was previously involved in Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR campaign for the 2017 America’s Cup. “He obviously will be showing interest but we want to keep him a little bit focussed on the car,” said Horner. “But his design team will be fully involved in this, using all the same tools and approach.”
Bertarelli confirmed that the team had already visited the Red Bull Racing motorsport base in Milton Keynes, England.
Before the announcement there had been speculation as to which club Alinghi would represent, as the 100 % nationality rule confirmed in the new America’s Cup Protocol requires all sailors to be passport holders of the nation they represent.
This announcement confirmed that they will represent the Société Nautique de Genève, requiring all the team to be Swiss, and the team’s AC75 to be built in Switzerland.
Since coming out of the Cup competition, following their defeat to Oracle USA in the 2010 Deed of Gift match, the Alinghi team has since been competing at Swiss lake events, including the T35 circuit.
Bertarelli points out the team has been sailing in fast and foiling boats, with a young Swiss team. “We expected the [100% nationality] rule, and we’re ready.”
Some of the Swiss crew were introduced on stage and, while they may not (yet) be widely familiar names the include highly skilled foiling sailors like Arnaud Psarofaghis, twice Moth European Champion.
Alinghi skipper returns
Much more familiar was former Alinghi Cup skipper Brad Butterworth. The veteran Kiwi Cup sailor’s role in the team wasn’t confirmed, but it’s clear he will be closely involved, bringing – as he put it – “a bit of the old school into the new world.”
Butterworth is, however, open to one of the most radical changes to the Cup rules since his day: the introduction of ‘cyclors’ (leg powered grinding), which are again permitted for the AC75s in the next Cup.
“I think that’s good for Switzerland,” he commented. “I think there are many very good cyclists who could end up powering this boat.”
When asked where he would like to see the 37th America’s Cup held, given the current uncertainty regarding the America’s Cup venue, Bertarelli said: “We enjoyed sailing in New Zealand. Obviously having Brad with us as a member of the team means to sail in New Zealand would be great, but we’re ready to sail anywhere the Defender decides: the sooner the better.”
The pharmaceuticals billionaire would not be drawn on the budget behind the new Alinghi Red Bull Racing team, only saying: “We’ll be well resourced. The most important resource is the human resource in this sort of venture.”
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