What we can expect on 8 February

Alinghi's helm turned coach Ed Baird, talks us through proceedings
Alinghi’s 2007 Cup winning helmsman Ed Baird doesn’t look like he will be have the same role for the 33rd America’s Cup. The odds seem to be on for a combination of Loick Peyron/Alain Gautier and Ernesto Bertarelli to be behind the wheel of the Alinghi 5 maxi-catamaran come race day. However over the last weeks the American former match race world champion, who also proved himself on two hulls by winning the 2008 iShares Cup, has been coaching the Swiss team in the new sport of match racing 100+ft long mega-multihulls. “I’ve spent a fair amount of time observing and trying to help the guys prepare for race day,” Baird told thedailysail. “There is a lot to think about – the size of the boat, the time it takes to do the manoeuvres, the characteristics of the boats, etc mean that we have to approach the race course in a different way. So I have worked hard at trying to develop some strategies for the guys for positioning and timing and really just trying to make sure we’re prepared.” In his new role with the team, Baird has now gain a good handle on what the competition might look like come 8 February, when the giant Swiss cat lines up for the first time with the American trimaran with her solid wingsail. Compared to the 32nd America’s Cup, designed vaguely to be a spectator affair within reasonable distance of the shore, with exclusively short windward-leeward courses with a beat of typically 3.3 miles, the courses in the Deed of Gift match format are very different and very much longer. Race one, states the Deed, will be a windward-leeward with a 20 mile beat. Race two is an equilateral triangle with 13 mile leg, while race three (if it is required