Monday, June 18, 2007

Alinghi's Grant Simmer on the upcoming America's Cup match

[Source: Alinghi] With very little official news coming out of the two camps in Valencia here is an interesting interview of Grant Simmer sent by Alinghi. You can either read it here below or listen to Grant Simmer by clicking on the green play button. You can pause or stop the interview with the control buttons, just like with any other music player:

What has the team been doing over the last week?
“We have been sailing every day, we are still crossing things off the list, there is always something we want to test or a crew manoeuvre that we want to fine tune. We are doing a lot of race practice and pre-start practice, we’re preparing for the racing.”

Alinghi has been training with Luna Rossa Challenge and Desafío Español. Are you happy with Alinghi’s performance?
“Historically the Defender getting an opportunity to sail against a strong challenger has always helped. In our case that’s also true, we were happy with our performance against both those teams. With Desafío Español, we only did pre-starts but with Luna Rossa, we had four races. There was high intensity and our performance looked very encouraging against them.”

How different is defending against Emirates Team New Zealand rather than challenging them?
“We have spoken about this a lot. The thing about being the Defender is that we don’t have the same intensity of racing. We are obviously trying to emulate the intensity in house and we have worked on that over the years. During the last Cup, we had a really tough battle against Oracle BMW Racing. When we had come through all that, we were pretty confident in our team and our ability and our boat. This time, despite the fact that we have recently sailed against Luna Rossa, we haven’t been exposed to the same intensity of racing and that’s a risk that we face. The other thing that’s different from Auckland is that we have had a lot of LV Acts in the interim years, which has helped us to continue to check in with the challengers.”

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Emirates Team New Zealand?
“I think I can only talk about the strengths of our opponent. Their strengths are that there is a lot of experience in the team. They’ve done a lot of racing, they’ve kept their crew very stable - so I would say they are match fit. Performance wise, clearly their boat has come a long way, they’ve used the same boat through the LV Cup. So they are fast and we are not expecting to have a speed edge on them. We expect them to be very similar in speed and to be match fit so they are going to be a very tough opponent.”

What is the spirit like at Alinghi at the moment?
“It’s good. There is anticipation and a bit of anxiety but all of that is good. We wouldn’t want to be going into an event being casual about it. This is what we’ve been getting ready for for three years. We need to be nervous and anxious and ready to go.”

You’ve already experienced winning the America’s Cup. What does it mean to win?
“It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling. I am a lot older than the first time I won it. Then I was in awe of the whole event, this time it has been my job to help put together a team that is good enough to win the Cup. I have always anticipated that we are strong enough to win it again. If that happens, for me it will be incredibly satisfying because I’ve given a huge amount of effort over these years. I will have the satisfaction and pride in the team and the knowledge that everyone’s hard work has finally got the result that we want.”

How difficult is it to keep the team sharp and hungry?
“As we’ve said many times this is always a problem we’ve faced, being able to race in LV Act 13 and being able to race Luna Rossa and Desafío Español after they were eliminated, has been great for us. Both those teams came out and put up a great fight and that has helped the motivation of the team. Frankly, the racing and the competition for a place on the race boat in-house has also been excellent.”

Why are you waiting until the last minute to announce the helmsman?
“We don’t need to announce it any earlier. Both Peter Holmberg and Ed Baird have been working together and competing against each other for several years. We’ve asked them to do something really tough, to compete for that position while working together and supporting each other.”



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