Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi America’s Cup syndicate has made a huge impact in its first competitive outing in the Swedish Match Cup - the final event of the Swedish Match Grand Prix series - in Marstrand, Sweden

The Swiss-based Alinghi syndicate is occupying the top two places on the leaderboard after the first day’s racing at the Swedish Match Cup in Marstrand, the last stop of the eight-event Swedish Match Grand Prix series. Alinghi’s top helmsman Russell Coutts dropped just one of his four races yesterday to take second place. The man to whom he lost, teammate Jochen Schumann, took first place on the leaderboard after winning all four races in light and shifty winds, gusting 10-12 knots occasionally.

Coutts was racing with syndicate leader, Swiss pharmaceutical billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli. His regular tactician, the hugely respected Brad Butterworth, was shifted onto Schumann’s boat to make way. Bertarelli himself is a very keen and credible yachtsman, well known for his string of radical Swiss lake catamarans, all named Alinghi, and his foray into maxi racing onboard Alinghimax in the Adecco Maxi One Design series.

This is the Alinghi syndicate’s first head-to-head meeting with the other America’s Cup syndicates and they couldn’t have made a bigger impact. “We’re very happy to be here. You can’t have better conditions for match racing,” said Schumann, a three-time Olympic medallist. “The team worked very well together today and we’re happy to achieve four wins.”

Coutts himself recognised room for improvement. “It’s been eight months since we’ve done a match race event (the Colorcraft Gold Cup in Bermuda which Coutts won for a sixth time last October). We’re looking forward to a good week and improving each day.”

Joint second after an excellent first day is the Danish amateur match racer Jes Gram Hansen, also carrying a 3-1 scorecard after losing to Coutts. Series winner Magnus Holmberg enjoyed mixed fortunes, beating Bertrand Pacé and Swedish amateur Johnie Berndtsson and losing to Hansen and Schumann. Pacé, winner in 1996 and runner up last year, has yet to card a single win.

Racing continues today and GBR Challenge will begin their campaign.

Swedish Match Cup Leaderboard
Skipper (AC Syndicate) – Wins:Losses

  • 1. Jochen Schumann (Alinghi) – 4:0
  • 2=. Russell Coutts (Alinghi) – 3:1
  • 2=. Jes Gram-Hansen – 3:1
  • 4=. Magnus Holmberg (Victory) – 2:2
  • 4=. Jesper Radich – 2:2
  • 6=. Johnie Berndtsson – 1:3
  • 6=. James Spithill (OneWorld) – 1:3
  • 8. Bertrand Pace (TNZ) – 0:4