Team Alinghi was officially welcomed to Valencia at ceremony in the Valencian Town Hall earlier today

Team Alinghi was officially welcomed to Valencia at a ceremony in the Valencian Town Hall earlier today.

The event was headed by Mayoress Rita Barbera, and President of the Valencia Region Francisco Camps welcomed the 104 members of Team Alinghi to Valencia. As well as the 100s of members of press from all over the world, there were numerous politicians, diplomats and representatives of the Valencian and Spanish sports and cultural community present to watch the last line being engraved on the America’s Cup, commemorating Alinghi’s historical victory in Auckland in 2003.

Following the ceremony at the town hall, the two Alinghi boats (SUI64 and SUI75) headed out of the harbour in the building breeze and glorious sunshine to compete against each other in some ‘fun’ windward/leeward racing. Among the crew were representatives of the Spanish sports community including handball legend Iñaki Urdangarin and FC Valencia captain Ruben Baraja.

Commenting at today’s event Alinghi owner and president Ernesto Bertarelli said: “We are here to win the Cup again, but we are also here to assist the development of the Valencian Region and to build bridges between nations and people, particularly between Switzerland and Spain.” Alinghi’s wishes seem very close to fulfilment as Geneva State Minister Carlo Lamprecht announced an economical, cultural and educational cooperation, a “Memorandum of Understanding”, between Switzerland/Lake Geneva Region and the Valencia Region which will be signed imminently.

Brad Butterworth, three-time America’s Cup winner, Alinghi tactician and vice-president of the board, explained that the team relocation has been motivated by a strong desire to train hard and efficiently as a whole. He added: “But, we also came here to take part in the Valencia social life. We want to be part of this community and it is with great emotion that I see today sportsmen and women welcoming us from football, basketball, handball, motor biking, athletics, swimming, car racing, blind running, squash, tennis and sailing. You cannot be the home team if you just work here; you really need to be integrated. And to do so, Alinghi has launched several projects that will enable the fans to get even closer to us.”

In Autumn 2005, Alinghi will inaugurate its Main Base in Valencia, which will provide the team with an excellent working environment. The Base not only houses space for two ACC yachts, room for 110 work spaces, a team restaurant and a gym. But also, in a bid to share the AC experience with the Alinghi fans, there is an extensive interactive zone planned to give people the ‘touch and feel’ experience of what America’s Cup racing and the Alinghi team spirit are all about.

Next to the Base, Alinghi will launch a full-size America’s Cup Class Simulator, based on the winning yacht SUI64. The 11-man simulator can heel to 30 degrees and tack within 45 degrees. “All good relationships are built on understanding and one of the hardest things to do is to give non-AC sailors a feel for what we do on a daily basis,” is how Grant Simmer, co-managing director of Alinghi, explains the rationale behind the simulator adding: “Our boatbuilder Décision and the marketing team have created this concept and it is much more than just a high-tech toy. Of course it is going to be great fun, but our aim is to share the experience of interaction on a boat like this with as many people as possible.”

The Alinghi Base will also be hosting the new Alinghi Academy, which will provide Alinghi followers with the opportunity to learn from the team. The SUI64 simulator will be one of the prominent features. Another one will be the sailing experience provided on 7.5m LOA boats for up to five people plus an Academy coach. The goal of this programme is not so much to teach people to sail, but rather to demonstrate how good teamwork allows for higher performance and greater success. Furthermore, Alinghi announced a ground breaking new association with the Instituto de Empresa Madrid, the highest ranking business school in the Spanish speaking world. The two partners will offer a management program for two to three days every three months inspired by Alinghi’s core values – teamwork, leadership, motivation and excellence – and developed jointly with Alinghi’s senior staff.