Monday, September 22, 2008

Alinghi wins the 2008 iShares Cup

[Source: Alinghi] With five European venues and 79 races behind them, Alinghi celebrates the iShares Cup season win in Amsterdam! “It’s fantastic to end up winning like this, it’s been a big year of learning…” says helmsman Ed Baird…

Ed Baird, Rodney Ardern, Lorenzo Mazza and Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen won the iShares Cup season trophy today as well as the Amsterdam event trophy, making this their fourth consecutive event win. The team sailed their first race on an eXtreme 40 in May in Lugano, Switzerland, with mixed results and a capsize, but with these early learning curve hiccoughs out of the way, the crew settled in to a steady winning streak that saw victory in Hyères, France; Cowes, UK; Kiel, Germany and today in Amsterdam.

Ed Baird, Alinghi helmsman, comments on the win today: “It’s fantastic to end up winning like this. It’s been a big year of learning for us and each day on the water is spent trying to figure out what works best and what makes the boat go fast. I give huge credit to my team, who has really supported me all year; the guys have got the boat around the course safely and fast over and over again.”

Alinghi, winners of the 2008 iShares Cup. From left, Peter Evans, Lorenzo Mazza, Rodney Ardern, Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen, Ed Baird, David Nichols (shore crew) and Cécile Duboeuf (PA). Amsterdam, 21 September 2008. Photo copyright Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/OC Events

This iShares Cup season is part of a much wider picture for the America’s Cup Defender, Alinghi, and is just one of several multihull learning platforms that the sailing team has been focusing on this summer. The Defender faces the possibility of a Deed of Gift (DoG) match, something currently being pursued by the American challenger BMW Oracle Racing in the New York Court of Appeals, and so the team is preparing for all eventualities. “Over the last six months, we have certainly gained a level of understanding about how boats like this work; however we have also learnt that we are not polished at sailing them and that there is still a lot more to learn and a huge amount more to learn about the great big multihull which is what the America’s Cup could potentially be sailed on if there is a Deed of Gift match,” says Baird. He adds: “We’re still thinking and asking a lot of questions, some are a bit elementary to people who have been in the sport for a long time on these kinds of boats, but we just want to make sure we cover all the bases and cut as many corners as we can towards learning how to do it!”

Alinghi is continuing to build the DoG boat in Switzerland and will continue to hone its multihull sailing skills with the Décision 35s on Lake Geneva (where the team is currently leading the Challenge Julius Baer with one event to go) and the 41footer ‘Alinghi Black’ in Valencia. In parallel the team cannot neglect its monohull training and continues to race on the Vrolijk IRC66 Numbers and the maxi yacht Alfa Romeo and with an eye on the team’s vision of a multi-challenge America’s Cup, Brad Butterworth, Alinghi team skipper, is organising challenger meetings this autumn to plan for the future.

Alinghi and Team Origin race in the iShares Cup final. Amsterdam, 21 September 2008. Photo copyright Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/OC Events

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