Sunday, 2 August 2009

Alinghi 5 celebrated on Lake Geneva during Swiss National Day

Alinghi's giant catamaran was a major element of Switzerland's 1 August National Day celebrations

by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat

Alinghi 5, the America's Cup Defender's giant catamaran, was the star of the show on Lake Geneva for the 1 August Swiss National Day celebrations which started in Lausanne where the multihull was on public display along with the America's Cup and culminated in Geneva at the head of a parade of over 1,000 boats.

Upwards of 10,000 people gathered in Lausanne to meet the team which was presented on stage along with 20 Alinghi Junior Crew selected from yacht clubs throughout Switzerland. “It is fantastic to see so many people today,” said team president Ernesto Bertarelli, talking to the public gathered for the celebrations. “It is extremely important for our team to share moments like this one with you all – it is not just about sharing the victories but also about sharing the new beginnings and this is one. I thank everyone for their support.”

After the festivities ashore, Alinghi 5 led over a 1,000 boats the length of the Lake, by way of Morges, Rolle, Nyon and Versoix, to its home yacht club: Société Nautique de Genève where the team was welcomed by Federal Counselor Micheline Calmy-Rey for a short ceremony. The counselor hoisted the Swiss flag on the catamaran to the National Anthem before making a brief speech that touched on the technological feat that the team has achieved and her pride in the spirit of the multi-national Swiss team.

“Today was a fantastic day,” said Bertarelli. “The last time I saw so many people follow a boat was at the Cowes Jubilee in 2001. Coming down from Lausanne on the day of the National Swiss Holiday with thousands of boats and thousands and thousands of people on the shore cheering; it was just fantastic. There were as many people following us here today as when we won the America's Cup in 2007 in Valencia.”

Next on the team agenda is to prepare Alinghi 5 for the flight over the Alps into Italy to continue the training programme out of the Mediterranean port of Genoa.

Alinghi 5 was launched on 8 July on Lake Geneva and started sailing on 20 July.

The venue of the 33rd America's Cup will be announced next week.

Boat type: Catamaran of carbon composite construction
Where built: Alinghi Villeneuve + Décision Corsier, Switzerland
Length waterline: 90ft
Hours to build: 100,000 man-hours
Square metres of carbon fibre used: 30,000m2


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