America’s Cup, Alinghi Red Bull Racing announces the team

Alinghi Red Bull Racing has chosen the sailors who will represent Switzerland at the next America’s Cup to be held in Barcelona in autumn 2024

After an absence of more than a decade, Alinghi, one of the best known names in the history of America’s Cup, returns to race for the sailing world’s most important trophy. Two-time America’s Cup-winning team has joined forces with Red Bull, one of the world’s leading sports teams, to create a new team: Alinghi Red Bull Racing. The crew is led by the Société Nautique de Genève. The Swiss challenger for the 37th America’s Cup will participate in the Selection Series to be held in Barcelona in 2024.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew

Experts in foiling, speed boating, rowing and even cycling, with an average age of 30, they are much younger than the crew that took part in the last Swiss triumph in Valencia in 2007. 

According to the regulations of the 37th edition, the crew on board the AC75 foiling monohulls will consist of eight people, in two groups: the power group and the driving group. The selection of sailors in the key roles of the afterguard (the cockpit) began last summer, conducted through interviews followed by physical and navigation tests. “Operations were handled in a collegial manner: we worked with coach Nils Frei and the first sailors selected, then decided all together,” explained Pierre-Yves Jorand, the co-general manager and head of sporting activities. “Character, aptitude and commitment were evaluated on a par with their abilities. We drive a Formula 1 of the sea with many people on board: one at the brakes, one at the wheel, one at the accelerator and another at the gear lever. The team concept takes on absolute meaning”.

These are sailors who have gained experience in Olympic sports, on flying boats or participating in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and who represent the so-called Alinghi generation. Among them is Nicolas Rolaz, 2014 World Champion in the Optimist class, who is also the youngest member of the team. “For me it is a great honour, a dream come true. I approached sailing after Alinghi’s victory in 2007: Ernesto Bertarelli and his crew showed that we Swiss could also reach the highest level. Bringing the Swiss flag to America’s Cup is a unique and exceptional opportunity, but above all it is a chance to rekindle the sacred fire fuelled by the team’s victories in the past”.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew

The team has been ready for the start of the two championships: leading the TF35 Trophy 2022 and the GC32 Racing Tour, Alinghi Red Bull Racing is training hard on both boats in anticipation of being able to test the AC75 and AC40.

A first-level programme has been organised, with excellent coaches, to support these youngsters on the water who still have to acquire the necessary experience to handle the full power of the AC75. The same happens on the design side, where Silvio Arrivabene, co-general manager and head of technical operations, supervises engineers and designers. “We will build a boat that is the result of the joint efforts of the whole group. We talk to the sailors on a daily basis: everyone is aware of each other’s challenges and needs. The design team we are putting together will use the experience gained with the AC75 in the 36th edition with a more contemporary, younger, broader approach. We are inspired by Formula 1, from which we are learning a lot through our collaboration with Red Bull Advanced”.

Arrivabene presented some key members of the team. These included chief designer Marcelino Botin, responsible for hydro and aerodynamics. “We are in a phase of team consolidation. The success or failure of a team depends on the people in it! The collaboration between sailors and designers is a great example of the strength of Alinghi Red Bull Racing: great synergies and a great working environment that fosters the development of ideas.”

Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew

The Swiss team’s next events are 11 June – Bol d’Or Mirabaud (TF35), Geneva (SUI) and 23-26 June – GC32 Racing Tour, Lagos (POR)

Crew members are divided into the following roles: tactician, helmsman, foil adjuster, sail trimmer and grinder. The latter provide the necessary power to run the boat. “The class rules require certain on-board systems to be manually powered, in particular all those concerning sail trim,” explains Adolfo Carrau, design coordinator, who has been working with Botin for fifteen years. “It is thanks to the power of these athletes that the sail trimmers can do their job. The designers have established the positions and the effort required to obtain maximum power according to the effort delivered: if the races last a relatively short time, the training sessions last many hours. The grinders consequently have to be really strong, all the more so as there will only be four on board, compared to the eight in the previous edition”. To put together this group of athletes, the selection focused on members of the Swiss cycling and rowing federations. “The palmares of these athletes caught our attention: although they lack experience in sailing, they are able to excel in high-level sports, with performances and victories achieved under pressure,” adds coach Nils Frei. “Rowers are extremely versatile sportsmen thanks to their strength, power and cardio endurance. However, it was necessary to explain to them what this event means: it is a life and career choice’. Cyclist Théry Schir and rowers Augustin Maillefer and Barnabé Delarze are part of the power group. The latter, who has taken part in two editions of the Olympics and is the recent winner of the prestigious Boat Race with the Oxford crew, is happy with this change after spending more than half his life rowing. “Water and gliding have always fascinated me; sailing is not that far removed from rowing! However, I have never been part of a project of this magnitude. I hope to contribute what has always been my strength in rowing: motivation, great rigour and determination to work hard to achieve my goals. Managing pressure to perform at the highest level. Here you enter another dimension: these boats are spaceships!” The last member of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew will be introduced shortly.

Il team velico Alinghi Red Bull Racing
Maxime Bachelin, 24 anni – gruppo di guida
Matias Bühler, 39 anni – gruppo di guida
Arthur Cevey, 26 anni – gruppo di potenza
Nicolas Charbonnier, 40 anni – gruppo di guida
Lucien Cujean, 32 anni – gruppo di guida
Barnabé Delarze, 27 anni – gruppo di potenza
Yves Detrey, 43 anni – gruppo di guida
Augustin Maillefer, 29 anni – gruppo di potenza
Bryan Mettraux, 31 anni – gruppo di guida
Arnaud Psarofaghis, 33 anni – gruppo di guida
Nicolas Rolaz, 22 anni – gruppo di potenza
Théry Schir, 29 anni – gruppo di potenza
Nils Theuninck, 25 anni – gruppo di potenza
Florian Trüb, 28 anni – gruppo di potenza

Team di progettazione 
Marcelino Botin (ESP) – progettista principale
Adolfo Carrau (URU) – coordinatore della progettazione
Steven Robert (FRA) – ingegnere strutturale capo
Gautier Sergent (FRA) – progettista delle vele
Joseph Ozanne (FRA) – responsabile del simulatore

Photo credit: Alinghi Red Bull Racing / Samo Vidic

(America’s Cup, Alinghi Red Bull Racing announces the team – Barchemagazine.com – June 2022)