20 years for Alinghi: when the trophy returned to Europe
Twenty years ago, in the middle of the night, Swiss fans watched live Alinghi’s victory in the 31st America’s Cup against the New Zealanders in Auckland. A victory that united an entire nation and put the spotlight on a sport that until then had few followers in the country. In addition to the Swiss fans who traveled to Auckland (New Zealand), there was a lot of excitement in Switzerland. A few days after the victory, 30,000 people and many Alinghi hats waited for the team to return to Geneva. It was an historic victory for a landlocked country whose technological and sporting prowess were put to good use.
Starting from a blank slate, Ernesto Bertarelli has built a team capable of winning. Alinghi, holder of the Societe Nautique de Genève, had to first eliminate nine competitors in qualifying regattas, the Louis Vuitton series. Then, by defeating the Americans in the final of the series, Alinghi got a ticket to face the New Zealand defender in the America’s Cup match, which they won with a score of 5-0. A success that sparked unprecedented enthusiasm for the America’s Cup.
As soon as he got off the boat, Ernesto Bertarelli, surrounded by his entire team, received the Auld Mug from the Commodore of the New Zealand Yacht Club. “I remember the moment when I raised the America’s Cup on my head,” recalls Ernesto Bertarelli. “I realized that this historic trophy was secured to its wooden base with a simple nut and that I had to put my feet firmly on the ground to hold it. This is when I first realized what we had just done.”
Our success has led to the birth of the “Alinge Generation”. Young people who have attended sailing schools, some of whom are now part of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Sailing Team. “I remember very well watching the last regatta at Société Nautique de Genève with my friends,” recalls Alinghi Red Bull Racing captain Arnaud Psarofaghis. “I was 14 years old and that moment woke me up with the dream of participating in the America’s Cup, along with the desire to be part of the winning team, Alinghi.”
These young people now participate in a talented team whose essence has not changed since 2003: the passion, dedication and competence of all the members who form a close-knit group focused on the same goal are the same as always. This mixture of youth and experience is well represented by the presence of those who had the experience of the 2003 America’s Cup, ready to relive the emotions with the same vigor. With Ernesto Bertarelli of course, there is Brad Butterworth, Pierre-Yves Yourand, Michel Hodara, Juan Villa, Luc Du Bois, Rodney Ardern, Jean-Marie Fragniere, Joao Capicadas, Simone Buffay, David Nickles, Narino Alessi, Christophe Lanz, Nils Frey and Yves Detry.
Twenty years ago, Switzerland joined the exclusive circle of countries that won the America’s Cup: the United States, Australia and New Zealand. For the first time, the oldest sports trophy in the world was won by a European team, moreover, on the first attempt. Now is the time to continue making history with the Copa América scheduled for fall 2024 in Barcelona.
Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi Red Bull Racing Team Principal: “My relationship with the America’s Cup has not changed, my motivation remains intact. I have faith that Alinghi Red Bull Racing will achieve great success in the competition. Of course the aim is to repeat the success of 2003, because I see similarities in the two campaigns: a new ambitious team, strong values, a system of excellence and knowledge We know what we need to do to be competitive, as ready as we were twenty years ago. Alinghi winning in New Zealand was an amazing moment. I remember yesterday was the moment we crossed the finish line. I hugged those who were with me on the boat right after he got on The other team members to the boat to the point where it nearly sank. We felt the team spirit and camaraderie and that we had reached a really important milestone. We were feeling chills, with a mixture of joy, tears and laughter. Then the excitement of reaching the pier where the whole team was waiting to celebrate the victory with us, along with Together with the cheering crowd of the crowd. This will forever remain one of the highlights of my life. Thanks to our victories and the youth of “Jill Alinghi”, we have some good sailors in Switzerland. In 2024, the third edition of the Youth America’s Cup and the first edition of the Women’s America’s Cup, which is an important component of the development of our sport. I am convinced that we must continue to invest in the future of Swiss sailing by building a pool of talent.”
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