[Source: Alinghi] Ed Baird and his crew win Round 2 of the UBS Dubai Defender Trials
As Alinghi wraps up the winter training at the Dubai International Marine Club, the foreseen announcement of the helmsman for Louis Vuitton Act 13 has been postponed. Syndicate head Ernesto Bertarelli and team skipper Brad Butterworth explained at a press conference, also attended by Grant Simmer, managing director and Jochen Schuemann, sports director, that “it was too close to call” and Alinghi has scheduled further racing in Valencia before the team makes a decision on the helmsman.
This was on the final day of Round 2 of the UBS Dubai Defender Trials, a two round affair that saw Ed Baird and Peter Holmberg and their respective crews go head to head with SUI64 and SUI91. Baird and his crew won Round 1 on a 3-all tie-breaker and they also went on to win Round 2, but as the decision of a helmsman is not based on the points, it has been postponed. Butterworth explained: “The racing has been very, very close. For us it is a tough decision and this time it has been too close to call, plus we are really keen to keep this healthy in-house competition going when we get back to Valencia. When we get back we’ll be launching SUI100 and racing her against SUI91 and the team is committed to this in-house racing process, so we’re going to keep it going as we think this is good for our team.”
Ernesto Bertarelli, team syndicate head, gave his thoughts: “This is the end of a very nice chapter of the Alinghi story for the 32nd America’s Cup. We have really enjoyed our stay in Dubai and have greatly benefited from being here. I am particularly pleased that by coming here, we have been able to touch another part of the world, having sailed in San Francisco and Newport, then later the Louis Vuitton Acts in Marseille, Sweden and Trapani and now back in Valencia. I think this is especially important since the Cup is a very old and extremely international trophy – if we can open new windows to our sport in locations such as this one here, then we can all be proud of what we have achieved. Of course, none of this would have been possible without UBS, our Main Partner, and the Dubai International Marine Club with their logistical support.”
Race day 4 – a shifty day
The last race of the event was delayed due to unstable conditions, but when it finally got away, the boats had a split tack start. SUI64 took an early lead in a big shift off the start line. Holmberg and the crew of SUI91 clawed Baird back downwind, closing the gap. But it was not enough and Baird finished 35 seconds ahead bringing the score to 4-1.
Dubai – a good choice
Dubai has been a valuable choice for Alinghi’s winter training. “The conditions here have in general reflected the conditions that we expect in Valencia in June, so we did a lot of testing before turning our focus on racing,” explained Butterworth. “The racing has been great, the level of in-house competition has been high and the team is pushing hard. With the winter training now over, the team starts the breakdown of the compound immediately to get the boats on the ship back to Valencia where training will resume in mid-March.”