Alinghi 20 years later, ready to fly to the 37th America's Cup

Alinghi 20 years later, ready to fly to the 37th America's Cup

Alinghi 20 years later, ready to fly to the 37th America's Cup


By Alinghi
02/03/2023 - 10:40

Twenty years ago, in the middle of the night, Swiss fans watched live as Alinghi made history, winning the 31st America's Cup in New Zealand. The victory united the nation and shone a spotlight on a sport that had had little following previously. In addition to the Swiss fans who made the trip to Auckland, there was huge excitement in Switzerland. A few days after the historic victory, 30,000 people – and as many Alinghi caps – turned out to welcome the team home to Geneva. It was a ground-breaking triumph for a land-locked country that revelled in the opportunity to showcase its technological and sporting skills.

Starting with a blank sheet of paper, Ernesto Bertarelli built a team that was capable of winning. The challenger, representing the Société Nautique de Geneve, had to beat nine other teams in the Louis Vuitton Series. By beating the Americans in the final, Alinghi earned its right to face the New Zealand Defender in the America's Cup Match, which it won outright 5-0. It was a victory that sparked unprecedented enthusiasm for sailing competition.

As he stepped off the boat, Ernesto – surrounded by his teammates – was presented with the Auld Mug by the Commodore of the New Zealand Yacht Club. "I remember the exact moment that I raised the Cup above my head," recalls Ernesto Bertarelli. "I realised that this historic trophy was attached to its wooden base with a simple nut and bolt, and that I had to have my feet on the ground to carry it. It was a humbling moment of realisation: I began to appreciate what we had just achieved."

This adventure was the catalyst for the 'Alinghi Generation'. Young people enrolled in sailing schools across the country, and some of them are now members of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Sailing Team. "I remember watching the final race of the match at the Société Nautique de Geneve with my friends," said Alinghi Red Bull Racing skipper Arnaud Psarofaghis. "I was 14 years old and that was the moment that I decided I wanted to participate in the America's Cup with the Swiss America's Cup winning team, Alinghi."

These young people are now involved in a talented team whose essence has not changed since 2003: its strength is in the passion, the involvement, and the competence of a group that is close-knit and focused on a single objective. The blend of youth and experience is highlighted by the presence of team members that were involved in 2003, and who are ready to relive the emotions with equal intensity: Ernesto of course, but also Brad Butterworth, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Michel Hodara, Juan Vila, Luc du Bois, Rodney Ardern, Jean-Marie Fragnière, João Cabeçadas, Simon Bovay, David Nikles, Narino Alessi, Christophe Lanz, Nils Frei, and Yves Detrey.

Alinghi 20 years later, ready to fly to the 37th America's Cup
Alinghi 20 years later, ready to fly to the 37th America's Cup

Twenty years ago, Switzerland joined the exclusive group of America's Cup-winning countries that includes the United States of America, Australia, and New Zealand. It was the first time the world's oldest sporting trophy was won by a European team, and on a first attempt.

The team is focused on continuing to make history in autumn 2024 in Barcelona.

Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi Red Bull Racing Team Principal: "My relationship with the America's Cup has not changed, my motivation remains intact. I am confident that Alinghi Red Bull Racing will go far in the competition. Of course, I would like to see a repeat of our 2003 success because I can see parallels between the two campaigns, such as a new ambitious team, strong values, and a discipline of excellence and know-how. We know what we have to do to be as ready to meet our competitors as we were twenty years ago.

"Alinghi's victory in New Zealand was a fantastic moment. I remember crossing the finish line as if it were yesterday! I embraced my teammates and then our fellow team members came onboard, almost swamping the boat. We felt a strong sense of team spirit, camaraderie, and accomplishment. The victory gave us goosebumps, it was a mixture of joy, tears, and laughter. Then when we got back to the dock, the rest of the team was waiting for us, there were crowds, and the public was going wild. This will remain one of the most important events in my life.

"Thanks to our victories and the young people of the 'Alinghi Generation', we have some very good sailors in Switzerland. In 2024, the third Youth America's Cup and the first Women's America's Cup will take place, both are important elements in the development of our sport. I am convinced that we must continue to invest in the future of Swiss sailing by creating a talent pool."

Pierre-Yves Jorand, Alinghi Red Bull Racing Co-General Manager Head of Sports Operations: "There are no words strong enough to express what we felt at the moment of our victory. The memories of Auckland are absolutely incredible, the Alinghi team spirit was magical. When we left the pontoon, the whole team came down to support us with the sound of Alpine horns. It was moving and motivating. In New Zealand, we were disconnected from what was happening at home. It was only when we got back to Switzerland that I realised what we had achieved. There were 30,000 people waiting to welcome us home to Geneva, the water fountain was illuminated with the image of the America's Cup, there were fireworks and closed streets.

Alinghi 20 years later, ready to fly to the 37th America's Cup
Alinghi 20 years later, ready to fly to the 37th America's Cup

"From 2003 to today, the fundamentals remain unchanged. Alinghi Red Bull Racing is a team with an experienced shore crew, a creative design team, sharp sailors, and reliable management. We need to be better in all these departments to stay ahead of our rivals."

Arnaud Psarofaghis, Skipper of Alinghi Red Bull Racing: "I've learned a lot from Ernesto since I've been sailing with him, both on the management side and on the sailing side, first with Alinghi and now with Alinghi Red Bull Racing. It's great to be able to talk to him and all the Alinghi alumni who are with us today, like Brad Butterworth who also shares his experience.

"We have been in Barcelona since last summer and have one goal: to make history again. Being the Skipper of Alinghi Red Bull Racing is a great honour and a great challenge, only possible thanks to the people around me in this project."

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