Last year, when the prospect of a multihull race came up, Alinghi and Ed Baird took part in, and won, the iShares Cup. As the teams sat down and discussed a monohull AC33, Alinghi and Ed Baird attained a wild card entry into the World Match Racing Tour – seen by many as the ultimate training for an America’s Cup Skipper.
In May’s Seahorse Magazine, Baird said:
You can’t do it all. We hope to do the majority of the Tour events this year, but that has a lot to do with the outcome of BMW ORACLE’s lawsuit. Our goal is to prepare ourselves for the Cup. If the Cup is going to be monohull based, match racing, then the Tour is the right place for us to be.
Alinghi has announced that they will race two Decision 35 boats this year. Ed Baird will helm Alinghi SUI6 with Brad Butterworth as tactician while Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi president, will helm Alinghi SUI1.
Baird said in a statement:
“Ernesto and his team have been strong in this class for years, we look forward to learning from and with them throughout the season. We realise we have a lot to learn, and there will be a number of great crews to race against, so we’re excited to have the opportunity to get back on the water in a competitive environment.”
So what does this mean for Alinghi’s involvement in the World Match Racing Tour? It seems that the team will not take part in any more races. Alinghi press officer, Daphne Morgan Barnicoat:
“…the WMRT [World Match Racing Tour] is the most competitive match racing event in the world and provides excellent training for a conventional America’s Cup in monohulls. As we have been forced to an America’s Cup Match in multihulls, our focus must be on training and racing these. So yes we have withdrawn from our monohull commitments this summer.”
The Tour have confirmed this. Yvonne Reid saying:
“Alinghi, in the form of Ed Baird, had been given a wildcard entry to the 2009 World Match Racing Tour, which they no longer need. The Tour card replacement is currently under discussion and is yet to be confirmed”.