Switzerland's Team Alinghi have announced the completion of their crew for the audacious 2003 America's Cup bid.
The Geneva-based project is aiming to bring yachting's biggest prize to Europe for the first time in the competition's 150-year history and has now added another five Swiss sailors to its multinational crew.
The five new members - Nils Frei, Yann Maillet, Dominik Neidhart, Enrico De Maria and Yves Detrey - were presented after the team's weekend victory in the grand finale of the Alinghi Swiss Tour in Geneva.
"We need two complete teams of sailors so we can train properly for match racing," Jochen Schümann, Team Alinghi's sporting director, said.
The Alinghi Swiss Tour was primarily established as part of the qualifying criteria for entering the America's Cup. However, the competition has also helped to develop match racing in Switzerland and enabled the best yachtsmen in the country to take on the members of Team Alinghi.
The five additional crew members will now travel to New Zealand in the next few weeks to meet the rest of the 31-strong sailing team.
The Swiss project is headed by the billionaire owner of the Serono biotech group, Ernesto Bertarelli, along with Russell Coutts, who skippered New Zealand to victory in the past two America's Cups.
The next edition of the America's Cup is scheduled to begin in February 2003. To reach the competition proper against the reigning champions from New Zealand, Team Alinghi must first win the Louis Vuitton Cup, a qualifying tournament which gets underway in October 2002.
by Roy Probert