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Alinghi takes flight

The Alinghi boat is now winging its way towards New Zealand Keystone Archive

The yacht representing Switzerland's America's Cup challenge, Alinghi, is on its way to New Zealand. The boat left for Auckland on Thursday from Zurich airport onboard a Russian transport aircraft.

“We are sending about 36 tonnes of material altogether on this flight,” said Grant Simmer, design coordinator for the Swiss team. “Everything should arrive in New Zealand on Monday.”

It is in fact the second of the syndicate’s yachts being flown to Auckland. Until recently Team Alinghi have been using the boat purchased from the unsuccessful Swiss 2000 challenge, Be Happy, for practice in the Mediterranean.

Both yachts will sail against each other in the Gulf of Auckland as crewmembers fine-tune tactics and technique for the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2002.

The design team hope the new Alinghi boat will not require any major modifications after testing under race conditions. The yacht has been in preparation for over a year, using computer simulations carried out at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne as part of the design process.

So far though, the team have refused to reveal if the new yacht has a particularly radical design.

“In the America’s Cup competition, there’s always the risk one of the syndicates will use a radical, winning configuration that blows away the competition,” Simmer told swissinfo.

“We think this is unlikely though as the design rules have been around long enough to test most variations. Designs are probably moving closer together rather than further apart.”

The Alinghi syndicate is backed by billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, chief executive of biotechnology firm Serono. The boat is skippered by New Zealander Russell Coutts, who successfully defended the America’s Cup in 2000.

The Swiss team will have to overcome the other challengers in the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2002, including Italy’s Prada and the American boats Oracle and OneWorld. The winner will then take on the New Zealand defender for the America’s Cup itself.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR