Andrew Cape, navigator aboard Alinghi, the Swiss America’s Cup team, was in London yesterday (21 May) taking part in the latest round of the team’s promotional tour

Andrew Cape, navigator aboard Alinghi, the Swiss America’s Cup team, was in London yesterday (21 May) taking part in the latest round of the team’s promotional tour.

Cape, who was born in Australia, is one of the most experienced members of the crew having navigated One Australia during the America’s Cup in 1995, Tokyo and Toshiba on two consecutive Whitbread Round the World Races and been a member of the winning crew at the 1996 Mumm 36 world championship. He was also a winning crewmember of Admiral’s Cup on two occasions. Naturally he and the team are positive about their chances at the America’s Cup Louis Vuitton trials which start in October but he has not lost sight of the top class competition Team Alinghi will be up against. “We’re very happy about the way our campaign is going,” said Cape, “but we know there are a lot of very good teams out there. However, we like to think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone else and we’ll certainly give it our best to try and bring the Cup back to Europe.”

The UBS and infonet-sponsored Alinghi team consists of 95 members, 31 of whom are sailors (totalling 86 world championship titles between them) including the likes of Russell Coutts and Jochen Schuemann. Michael Bonnefous, the Executive Director of the Alinghi Challenge, who was also present at the yesterday’s London event was keen to point out that their aim, as well as winning the Cup, is “to create a team to be proud of, to inspire people to achieve higher goals.”

The first of the two new Alinghi boats was launched last October and has been used for training, in conjunction with an older ACC boat, ever since. The second new boat should be finished by the beginning of June which gives the team four months of solid training before the trials.

Because the entire team is based in Auckland until the end of the event, the training regime has become routine, six days a week. A typical day down at the Auckland base starts at 0600 with a couple of hours physical training followed by breakfast at 0800 and a daily briefing at 0830. At 1000 the two boats leave the dock for a 50-minute tow out to the sailing area for a full-on day’s training until 1700. “Having the older ACC boat to train up against is invaluable,” commented Cape, “because we spend the day either match racing or straight-line sailing to measure performance.”

Following the day’s training the boats are taken off the water and transported to the compound. Here the next couple of hours are spent carrying out any repairs to the boat or sails before a final team de-brief session at 1900. A typical day at the Alinghi base finishes at approximately 2100.

While the sailing team are training full time on the water, the shore-based team are involved in running the base which is open to the public. The entire complex, masterminded by Ugo Brunoni, has been designed as an interactive stage specifically to attract visitors. Last weekend saw a massive 2,500 members of the public passing through to enjoy the plethora of activities which include winch grinding games, virtual sailing video games.

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