GENEVA, SUI – Team Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), winners of the 2003 and 2007 America's Cups, has issued a statement on the team's website (full statement also below) in reaction to the issuance of the Protocol Governing the 36th AC in Auckland on Friday. No doubt the statement is in response to multiple press inquiries, but is also a clear sign that Alinghi is seriously considering getting back into the AC fray – as well as a bit of a trial balloon.
Alinghi would be a formidable challenger given Bertarelli's wealth, experience and personal drive. It will be lost on few of our Dear Readers that Alinghi won the first time they challenged for the Cup, the only challenger to accomplish that in the 166-year history of the world's oldest international sports trophy, and did so at Auckland in 2003. The 2021 Cup will be nearly 20 years later and at the same venue.
After the 2010 Cup that Alinghi lost to Larry Ellison and BMW Oracle Racing (another first – BOR was the only challenger ever to win the Cup in a one-on-one with the Defender; all other matches without multiple challengers were won by the Defender), Mr Bertarelli appeared to be happy to sit out the Cup as long as Mr Ellison was involved. Larry's future intentions are not yet clear – he has issued no statement one way or the other – so presumably Mr Bertarelli is keeping an eye, and ear, on that. But none of us is getting any younger, including Ernesto. So your Ed. would not be at all surprised to see Alinghi return to the Cup, and I am sure most everyone in the Cup community would welcome them, especially the Kiwis.
Indeed, Alinghi's return would be a huge shot in the arm for the Cup, as would the return of the venerable New York Yacht Club who, by most accounts, are also studying the Protocol and getting their potential AC36 ducks in a row.
Your Ed. is reliably informed that Artemis Racing (SWE) are meeting this weekend at Cascais, POR during the RC 44 Cascais Cup. They, too, are studying the Protocol, assisted by lawyer and veteran Cup rules maven Melinda Erkelens (USA, San Francisco), to decide whether to challenge again.
Alinghi's well-written statement in full:
Alinghi has a unique place in the history of the America's Cup and remains a very active and highly successful professional sailing team.
Due not least to the unique conditions for sailing at its home on Lake Geneva, the team has always been naturally drawn to light, fast – and, more recently – foiling boats. For us, this is also the future of our sport.
We recognise there are many within the sailing community hoping that Alinghi will return to the America's Cup. We also recognise that Alinghi has inspired a new generation of highly talented Swiss sailors, who have the ambition, experience and talent to be part of a team that competes against the best in the world.
Now that the Protocol has been announced we will study it carefully and weigh its pros and cons. In the coming months, once our current racing season is over, we will decide if the new Protocol corresponds or not with the DNA of our team and our ambitions for the future.
The only certainty we have today is that our passion for the sport is undimmed and that we will continue to enjoy and learn from any race in which we compete.