Dean Barker and Pietro Sibello on hand as Swiss syndicate prepares for first sail after AC75 christening in Barcelona
America’s Cup challenger Alinghi Red Bull Racing is believed to be making final preparations to its AC75 training boat ahead of sailing for the first time in Barcelona, Spain
Swiss syndicate Alinghi Red Bull Racing is within days of becoming the first team in the 37th cycle of the America’s Cup to take to the water following the christening yesterday in Barcelona of the team’s AC75 training boat.
Code named Boat Zero and freshly branded in Alinghi Red Bull Racing livery, the Swiss AC75 – formerly Emirates Team New Zealand’s first boat designed and built in 2019 in the run up to the AC36 event – was ceremonially launched yesterday at the ARBR base in Barcelona’s Port Vell.
The boat will serve as a training platform for the team’s 15-strong crew of young Swiss sailors who have never set foot on an AC75 previously. To help the crew get to grips with their new beast the ARBR management have drafted in some expert coaching resource in the form of Kiwi veteran America’s Cup helmsman and past winner Dean Barker and AC36 finalist with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, Pietro Sibello from Italy.
The Swiss team bought the Kiwi AC75 last spring from the current America’s Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand and in recent weeks the syndicate’s technical shore team has painstakingly recommissioned the boat ready for sailing for the first time in the Mediterranean waters off Barcelona – venue of the 37th edition of America’s Cup in the Autumn of 2024.
“Each department pulled together creating a close-knit team in order to get the boat on the water today,” commented Silvio Arrivabene, ARBR co-general manager and head of technical operations.
“Despite the satisfaction of today’s festivities, we are aware that there is still a lot of work to do to catch up with the level of the teams that raced the 36th America’s Cup. But today has given us the energy to focus on the next step: sailing.”
During the christening, free-running specialist Hazal Nehir boarded the AC75 via the foil arm, and performed a few demonstrations of her skill, before Alceo Bertarelli – son of Alinghi Red Bull Racing boss Ernesto Bertarelli – broke the traditional bottle on the wing to christen the team’s new boat – now officially named Alinghi Red Bull Racing.
Now with the countdown on for the first day of sailing there remains just a few final adjustments and tests to be carried out by the technical team before the Swiss boat will sail in its new colours for the first time – perhaps even this week.
“In a Cup campaign you can never make up for lost time and you never have enough of it,” pointed out head coach, Nils Frei. “This first-generation boat will allow us to gain valuable training hours before we have our race boat. We are a new team sailing a boat that we are only just discovering, but to be able to train already this year is highly beneficial.”
Pietro Sibello said that learning how to manage the complexities of an AC75 on and off the water was a major part of any America’s Cup project and advised the team to be cautious in these early days with the new boat.
“You must respect every stage despite the excitement,” he said. “Being part of this team and being able to pass on our knowledge, alongside Dean Barker, means a lot to me.
“We have complementary experiences because we come from different teams, and this will allow us to get the best out of each other and to then pass it on to the young and talented Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew.”
Stand by for our exclusive reporting of the ARBR sailors’ first reactions immediately after sailing their new boat for the first time.