Swiss Precision

Like the finest timepiece created on the shores of Lake Geneva, Alinghi filed their entry to AC37 like clockwork on the stroke of the starting gun moments after the competition officially opened for business. It’s a huge statement from Ernesto Bertarelli and a massive shot in the arm for the America’s Cup but it left many more questions than answers.

©KOS Picture Source /

Opinion formers have been opining for weeks that there was simply no chance of the newly divorced Swiss-Italian entering until the venue was announced but that simply isn’t the case. There’s so much more going on behind the scenes and enough certainty that the big players are confident enough to slap down eye-watering sums to us mere mortals and commit to an AC75, an AC40, two hydrogen chase boats and a load of entry fees for regattas all over the world. The rich are different.

But we’ve got Ernesto back in the great game and it’s utterly thrilling to be able to say that. The off-the-record briefings and rumours were all true – you can never be sure in the America’s Cup – and what’s before us is uber-competition of the highest order. The sailing world is on full receive now as Ernesto will have strategised this to the nth degree and has crafted a path to victory. One of the great names of the America’s Cup is back. Fabulous.

And I know in all certainty that Red Bull will be the technology partner of Alinghi – and we can expect a big announcement soon on this, perhaps even in Jeddah this weekend at the Saudi Arabia F1 race. Wouldn’t that be something?

Adrian Newey’s design team have long been itching to apply their aerodynamic ability to fluid dynamics and we’ll see a shifting of design resource from the motorsport team into the America’s Cup schedule in short order.

The rumour from Milton Keynes is that they’ve been hard at it for months already, similar to Mercedes up in Northamptonshire, desperate not to let the Silver Arrows steal a march – remember Red Bull and Mercedes absolutely hate each other. This will be fascinating as it unfolds and highly apparent to everyone watching.

But who is Ernesto challenging under and how will the team look? Well, it’s all conjecture until the official announcement as the hermetic seal around the Swiss is tighter than the back case on a Rolex watch but the speculation is all around a tie up with the Italians.

Over the summer it’s believed that contact was made with Pete Burling and Blair Tuke but if Ernesto could secure the Luna Rossa assets then the ready-made team is already in place with Jimmy Spithill eligible and Checco Bruni as skipper. Who knows?

©Bob Martin for SailGP

The rumour in New Zealand is of a purchase of one of the American Magic boats and even the Ineos boats have been touted as possible trial horses. But could Ernesto be about to pull a fast one and play the emerging nation card? That’s a stretch but remember this is one of the wiliest operators ever to come to these parts. Nothing is off the table. Whoever can secure the signature of Tom Slingsby is at the races in a big way and commentators in New Zealand have already been opining about Alinghi flying an Australian flag – wow what a story that would be. I don’t believe it for a moment.

What’s very clear from speaking with the Alinghi team is that they are in no hurry to reveal all and are going to be carefully managing the media message. All credit to them – it’s very a la mode to go this way and with their history as a team it’s most probably sensible. All will be revealed in due course on their schedule.

©Carlo Borlenghi

But the interesting thing from a Kiwi standpoint is that surely this has to be the announcement that puts the whole Auckland debate well and truly to bed. Trying to defend on a shoestring against the might being assembled is for the birds now. Team New Zealand have to take the event offshore to get the valuable hosting fee and give themselves a fighting chance. This is serious now. Cobbling together a defence is a sure-fire way to total embarrassment and Grant Dalton is clear that he’s not in the business of repeating 2003 all over again.

The America’s Cup just got interesting. Very interesting.

16 thoughts on “Swiss Precision

  1. Is there a clear definition of “Emerging Nation” in the rules? I would presume Switzerland would not qualify, if the criteria are similar to the “Developing Nation” category in SailGP. Having had a top-rate team for twenty years, I’d say they’re pretty well developed!

    As a Swiss team, they would then presumably be bound by the 100% rule, itself a legacy of 2003.


  2. I agree with Magnus: Alinghis Entrance into AC37 has killed Auckland as Venue. Grant Dalton can’t ill-afford an underfunded Defence, not with these Powerhouses INEOS Britannia/Mercedes and Alinghi/Red Bull Racing teaming up.

    James Allison & Christian Horner ain’t crappies. They know what they are doing. Toto Wolff/James Allison/Geoff Willis will go over “Broken Glass” to punt Red Bull I can tell you that. As Magnus said these two Teams can’t stand each other.

    And I still think (forgive if I am wrong) that Toto Wolff will take over the INEOS Britannia CEO Role from Ainslie to give Ben some space so he doesn’t have to do everything. Wolffs Contract with Mercedes runs until 2023.


    1. I dunno, the NZ public seems more behind them when they’re challengers than defenders, it might be advantageous to loose and get to be “noble strivers questing overseas to return it to Auckland” for a bit again, then rinse and repeat. /sarcastic


  3. I don’t think Ernesto Bertarelli will challenge under an “Emerging Nation Banner”. There are enough talented Swiss Sailors if you give them a decent Boat. They don’t need Pete Burling, Blair Tuke or Tom Slingsby.

    For example: They will likely also have a good Female AC Crew. Elodie Mettraux sailed with Team SCA & TTOP while her sister Justine Mettraux sailed with Dongfeng and apparently their Brother Bryan Mettraux is sailing with Alinghi.

    They also have Arnaud Psarofaghis and potentially can rely on the new Swiss SailGP Team. Ernesto knows Sebastien Schneiter pretty well.


    1. I think we could argue Alinghi and Swiss professional sailing overall are proof the development team model does work. If the same team can continue to exist for two decades and train local talent, a team that starts as 80/20 foreign/local can fill itself in and become (if I recall their last Extreme Sailing Series roster correctly) 80-90% local. And of course, having this successful team has in turn inspired other local talent, who can in turn be recruited, and so on.

      I’m glad to see that such talent transcends gender… if only the AC did as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that Red Bull/Christian Horner hate Mercedes/Toto, but I don’t think it is reciprocated. It seems to me that Mercedes/Toto’s feeling toward Red Bull/Horner is more along the lines of disdain.


  5. Hi Agnus

    Are you still utterly confident that ‘your’ team Ineos will win the cup at long last or are there some hole appearing in your (swiss) cheese?

    Good luck Daniel/NZ


      1. Don’t go soft just because some blokes from a country that doesn’t even have a coastline turn up…this is Ineos’ time. We’ve waited long enough.


      2. In point of fact, those folks with no coastline have won more America’s Cups than any English team in 170 years… and the defenders have won one more than that.


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