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America's Cup: Alinghi won't be part of 36th America's Cup

by Fabio Pozzo, La Stampa/Richard Gladwell, S-W NZ 29 May 2018 16:27 PDT 30 May 2018
Ernesto Bertarelli and Alinghi dominated the owner-driver class at the GC32 World Championship at Garda © Pedro Martinez / GC32 World Championship

Twice winner of the America’s Cup, Ernesto Bertarelli has confirmed in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, that he will not be entering the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland.

The comment is not unexpected even before the last America’s Cup was finished, Bertarelli made it plain that he was only interested in sailing in the next event, if it were held in multihulls.

At the time five of the six teams were signatories to the “Framework” agreement announced in late January 2017. That agreement committed the teams, if one of them won the 35th America’s Cup regatta, to defend again in two years using the same AC50 one design catamarans.

Unfortunately, the one team that did not sign, Emirates Team New Zealand prevailed in a one-sided contest in which they led around 49 of the 54 marks and won the series eight wins to one.

A long time and successful multihull sailor, Bertarelli claims there would have immediately been six teams, including himself, in the 36th America’s Cup and with the likelihood of eight in total.

[All quoted comments following are auto-translated from Italian and edited.]

“They had to keep the AC50 and develop them. They would have immediately had six teams, we among those," he added.

(So far there are four teams announced for Auckland with another four possibilities when the final announcement is made after entries close on June 30.)

Oracle Team USA sails past the superyachts of Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli - Match, Day  4 - Race 7 - 35th America's Cup  - Bermuda  June 25, 2017 - photo © Richard Gladwell <a target=www.photosport.co.nz" />
Oracle Team USA sails past the superyachts of Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli - Match, Day 4 - Race 7 - 35th America's Cup - Bermuda June 25, 2017 - photo © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

"The America's Cup has become a game for engineers. I will not be there," Bertarelli told la Stampa after competing in the foiling GC32 regatta on Lake Garda, Italy.

"They [theAC75’s] are catamarans dressed as monohulls. They will be slower boats than we could have by keeping and developing the catamarans we had seen in the latest edition of Bermuda, probably less governable and safe.

“I really do not understand this: why change boat at every edition of the Cup? In addition, the "single-brand" will also be more expensive ".

“Now the Cup is a game for architects and engineers, with sailors in the background. And with the risk of investing a huge sum in a very expensive boat”

Emirates Team New Zealand claim they will be Defending with the same budget as in previous America’s Cups, while the British Challenger recently exited from their AC35 sponsor group and signed up for the biggest single sponsorship in sailing, double that of the Kiwi program, with a price tag of NZD$217million

"Switzerland has sailors to do it [multihull America’s Cup campaign] without problems of nationality rules. Changing boats have lost at least two teams, [one is Alinghi the other believed to be Sweden’s multinational team Artemis Racing, Cup sources have told Sail-World of four other teams who are potential entries for AC36].

Bertarelli raises an interesting point with the proposal that the AC75 will have the foil arms and mechanism as supplied parts.

He believes that it is not possible for all parts to be identical, and gets into the potential for redress claims against the race organisers if there are failures with supplied parts.

“You lose half a second in turn and immediately start a lawsuit... I do not want to receive a key part from the organiser. It's like in Formula 1 when all the teams have the same engine.”

[Parts and indeed whole boats are supplied in the Volvo Ocean Race, where there is no redress for part failure. Indeed some teams will break the same supplied part multiple times, while others suffer no breakage at all with the same part – leading to conclusions of “operator error”.]

Steve Tsuchiya presents the ``Reliance`` model to Ernesto Bertarelli. ``Reliance``, the 1903 Cup defender, is the official symbol of the Herreshoff Marine Museum/America's Cup Hall of Fame - Hall of Fame induction for Ernesto Bertarelli Alinghi and Lord Dunraven - photo © Carlo Borlenghi <a target=www.carloborlenghi.com" />
Steve Tsuchiya presents the ``Reliance`` model to Ernesto Bertarelli. ``Reliance``, the 1903 Cup defender, is the official symbol of the Herreshoff Marine Museum/America's Cup Hall of Fame - Hall of Fame induction for Ernesto Bertarelli Alinghi and Lord Dunraven - photo © Carlo Borlenghi www.carloborlenghi.com

Looking back at the 2007 America’s Cup, Bertarelli admits he made some mistakes after winning for the second time and then accepting the Challenge of Club that did not comply with the Deed of Gift, the 19th century document which governs the overall conduct of the America’s Cup.

"Unfortunately I made some mistakes. A week after the end of the 2007 edition we had already announced the boat and the biennial contesting of the event, and already there were sponsors, who were lost [when the organisers were taken to task in the New York Supreme Court].

Bertarelli makes an interesting point with the former International America’s Cup Class, which was widely accepted to have run its course in 2007, having been through five versions of the class rule and used for five successive America’s Cups from 1992 to 2007.

“We won with the number 64 boat the first time (2003), with the second 100 (2007). It means that 100 boats of that class had been built. One could see the previous Cup (2017) had a direction to follow. [With the AC50} You could spend the same amount to develop the Challenger/Defender program, but with less risk of making a mistake. Take the Ben Ainslie’s British challenger, in the last Cup. He was the best sailor in the world but had a wrong boat. Game over".

[While Alinghi sailed one of the first launched IACC yachts in the 2003 Cup cycle (#64) and defended with the last launched (#100) in the 2007 America’s Cup – extending the entry number range to the maximum – but even so 36 boats is impressive growth. Unfortunately, there was no real re-use market outside America’s Cup teams for the 75-80fters. Despite Bertarelli’s comments about the ongoing use of IACC race yachts, the Swiss team had announced a new boat, the AC90 monohull that would be used in the 33rd America’s Cup. Approximately 18 AC45S’s and AC50’s were built for the 35th America’s Cup.]

ACC5 vs AC90 Design - photo © America's Cup 2007 ACM/Photo <a target=www.americascup.com" />
ACC5 vs AC90 Design - photo © America's Cup 2007 ACM/Photo www.americascup.com

"We had at least ten teams that at least had 30 million euros to spend,” Bettarelli added. “The success of Valencia had been so great that all the teams had sponsors to re-sign. There were 250 million Euros invested by the city of Valencia for infrastructure. Alinghi was completely funded, Kiwis and the British also I think. We stopped and now we are back to a Cup that maybe some like where you have to have the Scrooge [billionaire] that pays everything. This was not my vision. " [There was no British team in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup, however Team Origin (GBR) was announced and participated in the interim Louis Vuitton Trophy series.]

"Once I won, I tried to build a Cup that paid for itself. I wanted sailing to become a sport like Football, Formula One. So as not to have just four teams [as happened with the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco]. The GC32 circuit, for example, is beautiful because there are thirteen teams ... It makes fun, atmosphere, beautiful images”.

[Under Bertarelli, the 2007 America’s Cup was financially the most successful in America’s Cup history with the participating teams receiving a substantial pay-out based on how far they progressed in the regatta.]

Alinghi 5 and USA-17 at a critical moment on Leg 1 of Race 1, 2010 America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell <a target=www.photosport.co.nz" />
Alinghi 5 and USA-17 at a critical moment on Leg 1 of Race 1, 2010 America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

"I'm a fan of sailing, if it is a more balanced game" Bertarelli told La Stampa. "However, frankly today I enjoy a lot with the GC32, without the problems that the Cup involves and without spending huge sums".

"I am passionate about sailing. I won the Cup, I lived for ten years perhaps in its best period, probably in the next (multihull) Cup I would not have been on the boat. But in my time I did sail in the Cup.

(Bertarelli was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2016.)

“Above all, I am sorry for the new generation of sailors who will no longer live in the America's Cup", he continued. "There were many teams. There was a wonderful atmosphere. Even the less strong teams were part of the community, they even dreamed of beating Alinghi once . Now the Cup sailors are always the same, it's a closed circuit. "

USA-17  chases hard after Alinghi 5, Race 1 of the 33rd America’s Cup - photo © BMW Oracle Racing Photo Gilles Martin-Raget <a target=www.bmworacleracing.com" />
USA-17 chases hard after Alinghi 5, Race 1 of the 33rd America’s Cup - photo © BMW Oracle Racing Photo Gilles Martin-Raget www.bmworacleracing.com

Turning to how he became involved in the America’s Cup, Bertarelli explained:

"I went to Auckland in 2000, when Luna Rossa lost to New Zealand, because I realized that Maxi One Design (a fleet of 10 one-design boats Bertarelli had been backing as a possibility for the Volvo Ocean Race) did not work.

“I wanted to clear my mind, along with Michel Bonefus, the friend who had helped me with the Maxi, we went to Auckland.

“I was surprised by the welcome from Peter Blake, Patrizio Bertelli (Luna Rossa) who invited me to have a coffee ... In short, many doors had opened, I had seen the boats, including the team of the New York Yacht Club who wanted to sell their boats because they had made a disastrous campaign [boat breakage due to structural failure].

“I saw the first races. I had fun. I came home."

The coup de grace in the 32nd America’s Cup  as SUI-100 edges through a near-stalled NZL-92 on the finish line. The finish line is biased towards Alinghi. - photo © Valenciasailing.com <a target=www.valenciasailing.com" />
The coup de grace in the 32nd America’s Cup as SUI-100 edges through a near-stalled NZL-92 on the finish line. The finish line is biased towards Alinghi. - photo © Valenciasailing.com www.valenciasailing.com

“Two or three months later Coutts called me. I had not known him. I had not shaken his hand. He told me that he wanted to go [leave Team New Zealand], that he wanted to make a team in Europe, that he was talking to different people. He spoke with [Patrizio]Bertelli, as he did when he [subsequently] left Alinghi and then went with Oracle.”

"I never look at the past”, he says. “I always think about tomorrow. Too much, maybe.”

“Sometimes I should look back, because if not, then the memories escape.

“It's just that I did not want to be just a passenger in the America’s Cup. I wanted to go in the boat, I liked being in the team, involved.”

Bertarelli makes it clear he is really only interested in sailing in events where he can be part of the crew and not just a backer, watching from the shore or a chase boat.

He says this is the attraction for sailing in the GC32, even though he is competing against professional sailors who are sailing 320 days a year.

"It means being accepted as a sailor by people who are twenty years younger than you, being able to create a relationship of respect.”.

"Respect in a competition by professionals is not the same thing. If you are not ahead of professionals like Draper, Minoprio, Cammas on the regatta points table, then those sailors do not come to give you a pat on the back and say: "Well done, mate. Well done friend. And that's what matters”.

For the full interview (in English) click here

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