Alinghi unveils giant catamaran
Swiss America's Cup defenders Alinghi launched their giant catamaran by airlifting it into Lake Geneva on Wednesday.Le Bouveret -- Swiss America's Cup defenders Alinghi launched their giant catamaran for a duel against US rival Oracle by airlifting it into Lake Geneva on Wednesday.
In the 30-minute flight, the 90 foot (27.4 metre) twin-hull craft was lifted out of the boatyard at Villeneuve, western Switzerland by a Russian MI-26 transport helicopter and flown five kilometres to its temporary port on the lake.
Dozens of boats with onlookers watched as the 2.5-metre tall white multihull was settled offshore near its temporary dock at the southeastern end of the lake.
Estimates for the total length of the mast, which was lying in port at Le Bouveret ready to be fitted, ranged from 48 to 50 metres, about 17 storeys high according to a team member.
But Alinghi is hinting at some surprises as it draws on experience of high-tech lake racing.
The lightweight carbon fibre catamaran named Alinghi 5 is the Swiss team's response to the huge trimaran that Oracle launched in 2008 during the legal battle that Alinghi eventually lost.
Funded by billionaires Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison respectively, Alinghi and Oracle are due to fight out their duel on the open seas by March 2010.
"As a passionate multihull sailor I am extremely excited to see Alinghi 5 launched and for the next stage of this campaign to begin," said Bertarelli. "Over the coming weeks and months the team will work towards defending the 33rd America's Cup next year."
Trials of Alinghi's catmaran are due to start on the relatively calm waters of the lake over the coming days.
But the exact configuration of the innovative Swiss yacht will be developed over the coming months.
A team member acknowledged that they might even have to learn new seafaring vocabulary for some of its parts.
A key feature is the long Y-shaped central section and beam attached to the hulls, which appears to include an attachment to test hydrofoils.
"There's an ongoing foil development programme," Alinghi's press office would only say.
The venue for the race - which is up to the Swiss – is not yet decided, with speculation over a choice between Valencia in Spain, where Alinghi won the last America's Cup in 2007, and the coast of Dubai.
AFP / Expatica