Twenty years ago: Alinghi made history

Published on March 2nd, 2023

Barcelona, Spain (March 2, 2023) – Twenty years ago, in the middle of the night, Swiss fans watched live as Alinghi made history, winning the 31st America’s Cup in New Zealand. The victory united the nation and shone a spotlight on a sport that had had little following previously. In addition to the Swiss fans who made the trip to Auckland, there was huge excitement in Switzerland.

A few days after the historic victory, 30,000 people, and as many Alinghi caps, turned out to welcome the team home to Geneva. It was a ground-breaking triumph for a land-locked country that revelled in the opportunity to showcase its technological and sporting skills.

Starting with a blank sheet of paper, Ernesto Bertarelli built a team that was capable of winning. The challenger, representing the Société Nautique de Geneve, had to beat nine other teams in the Louis Vuitton Series. By beating the Americans in the final, Alinghi earned its right to face the New Zealand Defender in the America’s Cup Match, which it won outright 5-0. It was a victory that sparked unprecedented enthusiasm for sailing competition.

As he stepped off the boat, Ernesto, surrounded by his teammates, was presented with the Auld Mug by the Commodore of the New Zealand Yacht Club. “I remember the exact moment that I raised the Cup above my head,” recalls Ernesto Bertarelli. “I realized that this historic trophy was attached to its wooden base with a simple nut and bolt, and that I had to have my feet on the ground to carry it. It was a humbling moment of realization: I began to appreciate what we had just achieved.”

This adventure was the catalyst for the ‘Alinghi Generation’. Young people enrolled in sailing schools across the country, and some of them are now members of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing Sailing Team. “I remember watching the final race of the match at the Société Nautique de Geneve with my friends,” said Alinghi Red Bull Racing skipper Arnaud Psarofaghis. “I was 14 years old and that was the moment that I decided I wanted to participate in the America’s Cup with the Swiss America’s Cup winning team, Alinghi.”

These young people are now involved in a talented team whose essence has not changed since 2003: its strength is in the passion, the involvement, and the competence of a group that is close-knit and focused on a single objective. The blend of youth and experience is highlighted by the presence of team members that were involved in 2003, and who are ready to relive the emotions with equal intensity: Ernesto of course, but also Brad Butterworth, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Michel Hodara, Juan Vila, Luc du Bois, Rodney Ardern, Jean-Marie Fragnière, João Cabeçadas, Simon Bovay, David Nikles, Narino Alessi, Christophe Lanz, Nils Frei, and Yves Detrey.

Twenty years ago, Switzerland joined the exclusive group of America’s Cup-winning countries that includes the United States of America, Australia, and New Zealand. It was the first time the world’s oldest sporting trophy was won by a European team, and on a first attempt.

The team is focused on continuing to make history in autumn 2024 in Barcelona.

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 March 30, 2022. The 37th America’s Cup will be held in September/October 2024.

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)
K-Challenge Racing (FRA)

Additional details:

comment banner

Tags: , ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.