Alinghi, the 33rd America’s Cup Defender, cast off from the America’s Cup Island of Al Hamra this morning and set sail for its first training day in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.
“The conditions are ideal here for these boats,” said Brad Butterworth, Alinghi team skipper, “exactly the building sea breeze that we hoped for which means we can sail as much as six days a week; it couldn’t be better for what we are trying to achieve.” The giant catamaran Alinghi 5 arrived in the Emirates from Europe on 30 September after a 12 day, 4,400nm voyage and since then the team has relocated, reassembled the boat and prepared it for the four-month training session ahead of the first race of the 33rd America’s Cup in February 2010.
“I would like to thank Ras Al Khaimah, the United Arab Emirates, his Highness Sheikh Saud, his Highness Sheikh Omar and Dr Massaad among many others. This is a fantastic venue for the America’s Cup. It is work in progress, but what has been achieved so far is second to none. It’s an honour and a pleasure to be here and I can’t wait to get sailing,” said Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi team president, at a press conference in Al Hamra Village on Saturday. “Some of the things I see from BMW Oracle read like the trailer of a Hollywood movie, do they really think we and the rest of the world ignore the fact that 40% of the world oil traffic goes through the Strait of Hormuz and as many goods are coming in to provide for what is the fastest growing region in the world over the last 10 years? If the Strait or this area had any security issues, we would know about it. So I say: Come on BMW Oracle, Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts and Tom Ehman; let’s get real and let’s get sailing. Stop inventing things for the sake of it.”
Preparations for the America’s Cup continue apace, both on Al Hamra Island, home to the team bases, and within Al Hamra Village where the teams and America’s Cup visitors will be accommodated over the next few months. The infrastructure is tailor-made for the event, courtesy of Ras Al Khaimah and Dr Khater Massaad, Advisor to H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, whose support has been invaluable. “We are proud to host such a world-acclaimed sporting event and welcome Alinghi with open arms,” said Dr Massaad, “we just hope to be able to welcome BMW Oracle, the challenger, soon in order to finalise preparations at their base on Al Hamra America’s Cup Island. The government of Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE guarantee the security of both teams in the lead up and during the Cup,” he declared.
Grant Simmer, Alinghi’s design team coordinator, has been on site during the early preparations and is delighted at the speed that work has progressed: “The difference between when we arrived here and now is amazing. The support from everyone involved in Ras Al Khaimah has been incomparable and we look forward to a successful America’s Cup Match in February 2010.”
Alinghi will now settle in to a training schedule towards the America’s Cup Match.