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Alinghi in shadow of Oracle – and Olympics

All shook up: Oracle's owner Larry Ellison (right) receives congratulations from Alinghi's Ernesto Bertarelli


Sailing syndicate Alinghi’s failure to defend the 33rd America’s Cup on Sunday was met with a shrug by many of Switzerland’s newspapers on Monday.

Only the press in Geneva, the home base of Alinghi, and Zurich’s Tages Anzeiger newspaper thought sailing’s most prestigious competition worthy of the front page.

“It was a sad end to an adventure that lasted exactly ten years,” said the French-language daily Le Temps in its commentary. “Alinghi’s big defeat at the hands of Oracle sounded the death knell of this European episode of the event, which now goes back to America.”

While Switzerland will have fond memories of Alinghi’s decade on top of the sailing world, Le Temps said the best-of-three series left a bitter aftertaste.

“Fought in the shadow of the Olympics, in the grey winter of Valencia, this was no dream event... The superiority of the American vessel, powered by its rigid wing, humiliated the Swiss catamaran. This capped two-years of competing in court.”

While Le Temps displayed a picture with Oracle boss Larry Ellison and two of his team members hoisting the Auld Mug, the Tribune de Genève decided to cover most of its front page with an image of the Alinghi vessel at sea. “Two small rounds and it’s over,” was the Tribune’s headline.

“Paid bitterly for their mistakes”

Perhaps more interesting was the reader survey the Geneva paper decided to run on its website: “Will Alinghi’s loss also be a loss for Geneva?" At the time of writing, 72 per cent of respondents said no.

Zurich’s Tages Anzeiger ran a photo on its front page of Bertarelli forcing a smile and congratulating Ellison immediately after the race, captioning it as an “historic handshake”. The previous Monday, Ellison had refused to stand on the same stage as his Swiss rival, and the Swiss billionaire wasn’t at the handover ceremony.

"Congratulations to the BMW Oracle team, their boat was faster," Bertarelli said. "They had a strategy, they got a little help from the legal system in New York and that always makes it difficult for us Europeans and that gave them advantages.”

The two billionaires have been locked in a tumultuous legal fight for two years, and it looked for a while like the race would never make it to the water. In the end the race featuring the fastest, the most expensive and the most technologically advanced boats in the 159-year history of the America's Cup was delayed twice by the weather as well.

Save for a few paragraphs on the front page, the newspaper buried its commentary on page 45. Writer Peter Herzog: “Ernesto Bertarelli is not the first billionaire to have to give up the Auld Mug. The two-time champions paid bitterly for their mistakes.”

The Blick tabloid, usually a good sport, put skier Didier Cuche on the front page. It ran a small photo of the big Swiss boat asking readers whether Alinghi ought to compete in the next America’s Cup. Its story on page 25 read: “The dream is over”.

“A new era”

Spain’s ADN free daily wrote: “Alinghi and Bertarelli have left their mark in Spain and especially Valencia, which was picked as the ‘Sea of Switzerland’ for the competition.”

“Larry Ellison is now opening a new era,” wrote Valencia’s Las Provincias.

The new era, and the return of the America’s Cup to the United States, warranted no significant coverage in the online editions of leading US newspapers.

Both the Chronicle in San Francisco, the home of BMW Oracle, and the New York Times published a report by the Associated Press.

“US boat wins back America’s Cup,” was the AP’s headline.

“Still bundled against the cold in his white foul-weather gear, software tycoon Larry Ellison hoisted the America's Cup high in the air, then planted a kiss on the oldest trophy in international sports.”

“‘Valencia – muchas gracias!’ the self-made billionaire screamed, following the ride of his life across the Mediterranean on one of the most remarkable boats ever built. The America's Cup is back in American hands.”

America's Cup

The America's Cup is the oldest and most prestigious trophy in the sport of sailing. It is awarded to the winner of a series of regattas between the defender of the cup and the challenger.

The competition, held for the first time in England in 1851, was won by America, with a boat from the New York Yacht Club. The club held the cup for 132 years until it was beaten in 1983.

By defeating the defending champion, New Zealand, in 2003, Alinghi brought the trophy for the first time to Europe.

end of infobox

USA 17

Boat type: Trimaran built of carbon composite materials

Builder: Core Builders in Anacortes, Washington

Sponsor: Golden Gate Yacht Club

Overall Length: 30 metres

Waterline Length: 27 metres

Mast height: 58 metres

Beam: 27 metres

Displacement: 16,000kg

Building time: 150,000 hours

end of infobox

Alinghi 5

Boat type: Catamaran of carbon composite construction

Builder: Alinghi-Décision in Villeneuve, canton Vaud

Sponsor: Société Nautique de Genève

Overall length: 27 metres

Waterline length: 27 metres

Mast height: 50 metres

Beam: 25 metres

Displacement: 12,000kg

Building time: More than 100,000 hours

end of infobox


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