Fresh challenge for Alinghi

As Ernesto Bertarelli takes to two hulls

Tuesday April 1st 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Not satisfied with merely winning the America’s Cup, Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli has now announced his Petit Alinghi campaign to win the contest formerly known as the Little America’s Cup.

Following the recent debacle over the Trustees of the International Catamaran Trophy, generally known as the Little America’s Cup, altering the Deed of Gift in order to allow their Trophy to be raced for in one design beach catamarans, Steve Clark, whose Team Cogito was its last winner, has accepted the challenge Bertarelli has issued through the Societe Nautique de Geneve. The new contest which looks likely to be challenged by other syndicates from the UK and Australia will be raced for the new Fast Cat Cup in September 2004.

The Fast Cat Cup, like the original Little America’s Cup, will be raced in experimental C-Class catamarans and Bertarelli has already set his America’s Cup design team the task of examining the options. The team already have experience of high performance catamarans and it is likely they will be using Bertarelli’s 40ft catamaran lake racer – also called Alinghi - as a test bed for developing their own solid sail rig. “Our challenge for the Fast Cat Cup will give our design team a fresh challenge before they start their research and development program to create a defender for the America’s Cup,” commented Alinghi’s General Manager Michel Bonnefous.

During laydays in the last America’s Cup as the rest of the team attempted to improve their golf handicaps, Alinghi Design Co-ordinator Grant Simmer was often to be seen flying radical designs of kite on the beach and sources say that Simmer is keen on furthering his research for a possible kite driven challenger. Additional design expertise is being brought in the form of NASA aerodynamicist Professor Hans Zimmerman, a fellow kite enthusiast, who worked on the wing development program of the Space Shuttle.

At present it looks unlikely that Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth will be racing the new Petit Alinghi. Bertarelli will be on board and Bonnefous has alluded to their searching for a top catamaran sailor to helm. Bertarelli was spotted in New York recently thumbing through real estate brochures for Swiss alpine chalets with Cogito designer and helmsman Duncan MacLean.

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