Thousands await Alinghi's taller mast
Swiss America's Cup defenders Alinghi sail their huge new catamaran in a parade to Lake Geneva.Lausanne -- Thousands of onlookers gathered around Lake Geneva on Saturday as Swiss America's Cup defenders Alinghi sailed their huge new catamaran on an inaugural parade to their home port in Geneva.
The 90-foot-long yacht will get an even taller mast than the one revealed since it was launched on the lake in western Switzerland in July, billionaire owner Ernesto Bertarelli said.
"It's true that it's impressive when you see the boat from outside. But I can assure you that mast is the small one, because we're going to put on a bigger one," Bertarelli told about 10,000 onlookers in Lausanne.
Alinghi 5 was accompanied by a fleet of boats in a festive atmosphere for its official flag-bearing ceremony on Swiss national day, after several days of trials in light air.
"It's really great to see that the Swiss are still behind us even if we've had two years that have been less sport-oriented. I think we're going to have a lot of support," team member Nils Frei said.
"Yesterday was a very good sailing day with a good breeze, and that's where we could see all the potential in the boat," he told AFP.
"So it's going pretty nicely. We know there's a lot of work to do to go even faster, but I think we're on the right track."
The Swiss team is due to announce in early August the venue for its competition against US challengers Oracle in February 2010, following some two years of legal arguing.
Dubai is widely mentioned in local media as the likely host for the next round in yachting's most prestigious trophy, but Alinghi are refusing to reveal information before the announcement.
The catamaran is due to be flown some 300 kilometres over the Alps in early August for several weeks of sea trials in the Mediterranean port of Genoa, team members said.
Oracle, financed by US computer magnate Larry Ellison, has been testing a similarly huge trimaran off the US West Coast.
AFP / Expatica