Meet the Sailing Team, Nils Frei (SUI)
While some of his teammates stress the differences between sailing a monohull keelboat and a fast multihull, Nils Frei says his job has fundamentally stayed the same. “Trimming is always trimming; the principles stay the same regardless of what speed you are doing. You need to be very focused, always aware of the wind direction and wind speed, and you need good understanding with the helmsman and other trimmers.”
Frei has been enjoying the rapid learning process with Alinghi 5. “It’s a big boat with huge loads, and it’s a lot of fun to sail. It is a unique experience being on board this boat. I mean, who knows, maybe we are sailing on the fastest boat in the world and we’re all very excited about that. After gaining so much experience on the smaller boats like the Extreme 40s and Alinghi 41, it is good to be putting our new skills to practice on this boat.”
As a sailor who grew up around the Swiss lakes, Frei was already well aware of fast catamaran technology. After his high school exams he threw himself at an Olympic 49er campaign but that fell apart when he went to study in a different town than his sailing partner. Furthering his studies at the University of Geneva with a degree in Geography he then worked for the Berne Economic Development Agency promoting economic activity in Berne before joining Alinghi in 2003.
Joining Alinghi has been particularly memorable. “To win the America's Cup was by far the best I had ever done in sports and I'm really proud to be part of the Alinghi crew, where team spirit and respect are key to success. I'm also proud to be representing my country and to show through Alinghi, a multicultural, international and open minded Switzerland."
For the final run in to the 33rd America’s Cup, Frei believes it is important for the team to stay fit but not to work too hard in the final weeks leading up to the match. “When the Cup comes we really need to be focused, so we want to make sure that we are rested and ready. The most important thing at this stage is not to take too many risks. We must be careful with ourselves and with the boat because time is just too short to be able to break anything significant. Provided we are sensible, we will be in very good shape for the 33rd America’s Cup.”