Friday, January 15, 2010

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia

My apologies for the long absence today but the day finished well after sunset, when Alinghi 5 returned to her base inside Port America's Cup. The Defending yacht's maiden sail on Valencian waters took place under excellent conditions and for approximately two and a half hours we had a first taste of the actual 33rd America's Cup match.

The day's key points were probably two. Firstly, what else could it be, the maiden sail of Alinghi 5, and secondly the presence of Valencia's mayor as well as of the president of the Valencia Region in Alinghi's base. The two local politicians, together with Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli, formally announced they had finally reached an agreement and the city would be in charge for organizing, and paying, all aspects of the event that are not directly related to sailing.

First sail of Alinghi 5 in Valencia
There isn't really anything new or extraordinary in Alinghi's first sail here in Valencia, other than the novelty factor. It seemed that everything went smoothly and if there was any glitch it wasn't so obvious as to notice it from the press boats. Valencia Sailing has watched and photographed Alinghi 5 sailing on lake Geneva and Ras al-Khaimah but it was still an awesome sight to watch the giant multihull flying on Valencia's waters. Sailing started at approximately 4:30pm and lasted a couple of hours. With the sunset at 6:30pm that means Alinghi 5 docked in her base when it already dark.

Conditions were also surprisingly very good and yesterday's freak gale force winds were already a distant memory. There was a nice breeze between 12 and 14 knots, a long swell of moderate height and clear blue skies. If the America's Cup match were to have started on January 15th, I didn't see any reason why PRO Harold Bennett wouldn't have fired the starting gun.

Being a shake down sail, the Alinghi crew didn't push the boat too much but judging by the tender's speedometer they were easily sailing at 25 knots of boatspeed. As one could have imagined it was mainly straight-line sailing and we went mainly towards the south, roughly halfway through between Valencia and Cullera. At that point one realizes how fast these yachts sail since it took us what seemed like an eternity to go back to the team's base.

As far as my photos are concerned, it was impossible to get any close-action shots, mainly for two reasons. First, for safety reasons the photo boat stays at a great distance from the yacht, even during a simple training session. Secondly, it is extremely difficult to follow these yachts with an ordinary tender. If you slow down to stabilize and shoot then it will be practically impossible to catch up.

Stepping the mast on Alinghi 5. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 getting ready for her first sail in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sets off for her first sail in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sets off for her first sail in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sails for the first time in Valencia, venue of the 33rd America's Cup. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 sailed for as long as there was sunlight. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Alinghi 5 returns to her base after sunset. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Has this mainsail been constructed in Switzerland? It depends on who you ask. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Agreement between Alinghi and the city of Valencia
Equally important to the first sail of Alinghi 5 in Valencia was the formal announcement of the final agreement between Valencia and Alinghi over the organizing rights of the 33rd America's Cup. As everybody was expecting, the match will start on February 8th and will be a best-of-three series. Some further details have been leaked to the press but no official statement was made this afternoon. In order for the agreement to made official, it has to be signed by the central government in Madrid, something that hasn't been done so far. Nevertheless, according to Bertarelli, Madrid has given its "blessing" to the deal and the remaining signature is just a formality. "We are ready for the Match. The team is here, I am here and we are prepared for the America's Cup Match on the 8th of February"

In the absence of further details on the agreement, the press stormed Bertarelli who, obviously, criticized BMW Oracle and his CEO, Russell Coutts, in particular. For Bertarelli, Coutts wants to win the America's Cup without racing, adding that if he wants to win the Cup in court all he has to do is call him. "Russell, do you want to win the Cup in the NY Court? Just call me and I'll bring it to you there", added Bertarelli.

As for why he doesn't want to extend the regatta to 5 or 7 races, for the Alinghi owner, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime event, similar to the boxing matches between Mohamed Ali and Joe Frazier. It doesn't matter whether it's 1 or 12 rounds, it's the match that matters. His final remark might be funny but it is unconvincing. For Bertarelli, this is going to be like a good whiskey because "it's better when it's concentrated."

Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi owner, talks to the press. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Happy and smiley faces around the flag of Valencia. Valencia, 15 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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17 Comments:

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Ramon said...

Beautyful!!!

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were the waves bigger than 1 meter...?

 
At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go for the 8th whatever it takes,
good luck guys.

 
At 9:21 PM, Blogger chocoa said...

beautiful boat/top notch pictures.
I see they have added a aerodynamic
structure on the back strut, similar
too the one BMWO tried out last month.

 
At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

all the best for Alinghi! How beautiful she is...well done guys!

 
At 11:43 PM, Anonymous Gareth Evans said said...

This is a beautiful moment.

 
At 12:17 AM, Blogger AKvS said...

How was the tacking/gybing? Can you estimate the time it took? how did it look - fast/slow?

 
At 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the moment:

Alinghi-1 BMWOR-0

 
At 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 12:17 AM

I see this evening fast, very very fast.

 
At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ehman two days ago in Zurich: "We would prefer to race in March." Reasons he gives have been known since the beginning when BOR insisted on Valencia on Feb 8, as ordered by the Court, i.e. Collision with Olympic Winter Games (start on Feb 13), much better weather in March, more visibility to spectators". All that is not new. New is only, that "the Snake" thought that both teams would have more time to prepare. This is not Alinghi's problem!! They are ready to race NOW.

 
At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember way back when people where talking about if Alinghi were even building a boat or if they had left it too late. Rumour has it now that BMWO are struggling to make the start and they wanted VLC the whole time.Shows you what good management is all about.

 
At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alinghi 1 - BOR 0

She's just beautifull. Thanks for the photos. I will be in Valencia next week... and I am very excited ! really. After Charente Maritimes II, Orange II , I am impatient to discover this new state of ort Catamaran...

What needs also to be said is that Alinghi 5 arrived 20mn after BOR in Valencia... and they are already sailing. It is just great.

It will be a great match. Alinghi win...

 
At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very much surprised how relaxed they are...good job!

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger Norby said...

so, if it so safe to sail in and out the darsena, according to alinghi, why did they have to tow a5?

 
At 2:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice 3DL sails :(

Avez-vous vu que EB porte un jean ?
J'ai horreur de ces richards qui jouent les racailles.

 
At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norby - your question implies a condition that you cannot support. Remove "have to" from your question and you get a different set of answers. Maybe they wanted to.

 
At 7:20 PM, Blogger Norby said...

yeah, sure.

 

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