Numerous politicians, diplomats and representatives of the Valencian and Spanish sports and cultural community watched the last line being engraved on the America's Cup, commemorating Alinghi's historical victory in Auckland in 2003. With the ceremony, Alinghi closed a circle which began with the 2000 campaign, brought the Cup to Geneva in 2003 and now ends temporarily in Valencia, where Alinghi will fight to win the Trophy again in 2007.
'We are here to win the Cup again,' said Alinghi owner and president Ernesto BERTARELLI. 'But we are also here to assist the development of the Valencian Region and to build bridges between nations and people, particularly between Switzerland and Spain.'
Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL), three-time America's Cup winner, Alinghi tactician and vice-president of the board, explained that the team relocation has been motivated by a strong desire to train hard and efficiently as a whole. He added: 'But, we also came here to take part in the Valencia social life. We want to be part of this community and it is with great emotion that I see today sportsmen and women welcoming us from football, basketball, handball, motor biking, athletics, swimming, car racing, blind running, squash, tennis and sailing. You cannot be the home team if you just work here; you really need to be integrated. And to do so, Alinghi has launched several projects that will enable the fans to get even closer to us.'
In Autumn 2005, Alinghi will inaugurate it's Main Base in Valencia, which will provide the team with a working environment. The Base houses space for two ACC yachts, room for 110 work spaces, a team restaurant and a gym. In a bid to share the America's Cup experience with the Alinghi fans, there is an extensive interactive zone planned to give people the 'touch and feel' experience.
Next to the Base, Alinghi will launch a full-size America's Cup Class Simulator, based on the winning yacht SUI64. The 11-man simulator can heel to 30º and tack within 45º.
'All good relationships are built on understanding and one of the hardest things to do is to give non-AC sailors a feel for what we do on a daily basis,' is how Grant SIMMER, co-managing director of Alinghi, explains the rationale behind the simulator adding: 'Our boatbuilder Décision and the marketing team have created this concept and it is much more than just a high-tech toy. Of course it is going to be great fun, but our aim is to share the experience of interaction on a boat like this with as many people as possible.'
The Alinghi Base will also be hosting the new Alinghi Academy, which will provide Alinghi followers with the opportunity to learn from the team. The SUI64 simulator will be one of the prominent features. Another one will be the sailing experience provided on 7.5m LOA boats for up to five people plus an Academy coach. The goal of this programme is not so much to teach people to sail, but rather to demonstrate how good teamwork allows for higher performance and greater success. Furthermore, Alinghi announced a new association with the Instituto de Empresa Madrid, the highest ranking business school in the Spanish speaking world. The two partners will offer a management programme for two to three days every three months inspired by Alinghi's core values - teamwork, leadership, motivation and excellence - and developed jointly with Alinghi's senior staff.
Alinghi has also launched its website in Spanish, adding to the English, French and German versions. Alinghi's 1992 Olympic Champion and strategist, Jordi CALAFAT (ESP), explained how great it is to be part of the multinational Alinghi team and that he was very happy that the team now also has a voice in Spanish: 'Alinghi team members come from 18 different nations. After the Swiss, the Spanish have now become the second largest group of employees of the team. The Alinghi Friends zone on the website will allow fans to follow us very closely. Plus, there are special opportunities such as exclusive access to the interactive zone, invitations to special Friends events or the chance to win or buy hospitality during the races, which will further add to the experience'.
After the reception at the Town Hall, Alinghi took handball legend Iñaki URDANGARIN and FC Valencia captain Ruben BARAJA on board as representatives of the Spanish sports community and SUI64 and SUI75 sailed out of the Darsena to open sea, thus launching the official start of Alinghi's campaign in Valencia.
Back in Switzerland, UBS and Alinghi, with the support of Swiss Sailing, have created the UBS Alinghi Swiss Tour to assist the development of competitive sailing in Switzerland. The series of six match races starts in Zurich in May and ends with a final in Valencia in November. The Alinghi teams led by strategist CALAFAT in Zurich, helmsmen Ed BAIRD (USA) in Thun and probably Geneva, Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) in Lugano and strategist Murray JONES (SUI) in Romanshorn will race against fierce opposition.
Instead of the initially expected 25 to 30 teams, 48 Swiss teams have already registered and a further 26 teams from abroad have requested entry. The series is also supported by new co-sponsors Kronenbourg, Nespresso and Franke.