Alinghi America’s Cup team selections
Published on June 8th, 2022
Fourteen sailors have been selected to join the Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew and represent the Société Nautique de Genève as a Challenger for the 37th America’s Cup. The 14 selected are all young, Swiss and talented, with solid experience in foiling, fast boats, rowing and cycling; and will represent Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Switzerland in the next America’s Cup, sailing’s most prestigious event, to be held in Barcelona in 2024.
With an average age of 30, 11 years younger than the last crew that took Switzerland to victory in Valencia, this team represents the youth factor. Eight of them will board the AC75 foiling monohull, classified into two groups: the driving group and the power group. For the sailors in the first group, called afterguard, selection started last summer with interviews, followed by physical and sailing tests.
Pierre-Yves Jorand, co-general manager in charge of sports operations, explained, “It was really a collective effort: we worked with the head trainer Nils Frei and the first sailors selected and made all our decisions together. Character, Attitude and development potential are as important as skills.”
The sailors in the driving group gained their experience across a range of elite-level sports, flying boats and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and personify what is called the ‘Alinghi generation’. The youngest is 2014 Optimist world champion Nicolas Rolaz, 22, who revealed, “It’s an honor for me, a dream come true. I started sailing during the previous victory in 2007; Ernesto Bertarelli and his crew had shown that it was possible to reach the top even if you’re from a landlocked country like Switzerland.”
These are crew members whom Arnaud Psarofaghis, who’s been at the heart of the project since it started, knows well. “Going on this adventure with friends I’ve known since childhood and people I’ve been working with for over 20 years is very exciting,” the 33-year-old Swiss sailor says.
“Even if I haven’t necessarily sailed with them, this bond is a great advantage. We understand each other, which will make communication so much easier. And that’s vital, because on board, good communication is key. And off the boat too: we know when one of us is going through a rough patch, how to talk with them, and when. The only thing that counts is performance, and it’s with this in mind that the teams will be put together.”
A high-level training schedule has been set up on the water with renowned coaches to guide these youngsters, who have no experience yet, with these super-powerful AC75 rockets. The sailors are divided into the following roles: tactician, helmsman, foil trimmer, sail trimmer, and grinder. The latter three, part of the power group, bring the necessary power to get the boat working.
Co-general manager in charge of technical operations Silvio Arrivabene, who will supervise the designers and engineers, said, “The boat we’re going to deliver will be the result of everyone’s joint commitment. We talk daily with the sailors, everyone knows what the others’ challenges and needs are.”
Besides announcing the new Swiss crew members, Arrivabene presented some of the other key team members, including principal designer Marcelino Botin, who is in charge of hydro and aerodynamics. Botin added, “These are the people who can make or break a team. The cohesion between the designers and the sailors really illustrates where Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s strength lies: numerous synergies and an excellent work atmosphere where ideas come together.”
The sailors are divided into the following roles: tactician, helmsman, foil trimmer, sail trimmer, and grinder. The latter three, part of the power group, bring the necessary power to get the boat working.
Design coordinator Adolfo Carrau explained, “The class rules oblige certain systems to function on manual power, especially everything that has to do with sail trimming. It’s the strength that these athletes contribute that enables the sail trimmer to do his job. The team members must therefore really be strong, especially since there will only be four of them on board, compared to eight grinders in the previous edition.”
To assemble this power group, the recruitment focused on the Swiss cycling and rowing federations, including cyclist Théry Schir as well as rowers Augustin Maillefer and Barnabé Delarze. Head trainer Nils Frei said, “The track record of these athletes caught our attention; though not experienced in sailing, they excel in top-level sports, winning, and performance despite pressure. Rowers are extremely versatile athletes due to their strength, power, and endurance, but we still had to explain to them what this event represents; it’s a career choice, a life choice.”
Delarze, who has competed at two Olympics and recently won the UK’s iconic Boat Race with Oxford University, is thrilled about this new sporting direction after spending over half his life rowing. He said, “I’ve always been attracted to water and sliding sports, and in the end, sailing is not that far removed from rowing! In any event, I’ve never had a project this big. I hope I can offer them what was my strength in rowing, motivation and the will to work hard to reach my goals, with a lot of discipline.”
The last crew member will be introduced soon and, with true Swiss precision, the team have been spot on at the recent start of two 2022 championships: currently leading both the TF35 Trophy and the GC32 Racing Tour, training actively on these two boats while waiting to sail the AC75 and then the AC40.
Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailing crew
Maxime Bachelin, 24 – driving group
Matias Bühler, 39 – driving group
Arthur Cevey, 26 – power group
Nicolas Charbonnier, 40 – driving group
Lucien Cujean, 32 – driving group
Barnabé Delarze, 27 – power group
Yves Detrey, 43 – driving group
Augustin Maillefer, 29 – power group
Bryan Mettraux, 31 – driving group
Arnaud Psarofaghis, 33 – driving group
Nicolas Rolaz, 22 – power group
Théry Schir, 29 – power group
Nils Theuninck, 25 – power group
Florian Trüb, 28 – power group
Marcelino Botin (ESP) – principal designer
Adolfo Carrau (URU) – design coordinator
Steven Robert (FRA) – structural engineer lead
Gautier Sergent (FRA) – sail designer
Joseph Ozanne (FRA) – simulator lead
Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, 2021, the AC75 Class Rule and AC Technical Regulations were finalized on March 17, 2022. The entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender was to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed the venue reveal, confirming it would be Barcelona on by March 30, 2022.
Teams revealed to challenge defender Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
• INEOS Britannia (GBR)
• Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI)
• Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA)
• NYYC American Magic (USA)