The hardest-digging sailing journalist in Italy spotted the former Ruler of the Cup in Bermuda last week, and his short interview with Ernesto Bertarelli touches on the kind of stuff any fan of AC history or high performance sailing will want to know. Our translation, with thanks to the always-good work of Luca Bontempelli and La Gazzetta.
Sporting an Alinghi watch and hat, in a great mood, Ernesto Bertarelli is back in his element: water – or rather, the America’s Cup. He enjoys talking with everyone.
Bertarelli: “The other night I was having dinner at the home of Russell Coutts [holy crap! -ed], and we had a long chat about everything. Except sailing. Against the beauty of Bermuda I realized he had nothing against anyone. Life is too short to waste on bickering. In fact the thing I am most proud of in my years of America’s Cup racing is the personal relationships that I built. From pilot to rafts to the most important person in the Cup, I had a lot of testimonies of affection. This for me has great value. “
He was more than once in the shore base with the Kiwi team: “They showed me the base, I tried their simulator, we spoke, I can tell you that I am not the next Challenger of Record. I believe it to be Patrizio Bertelli with Luna Rossa if the Kiwis win.
One cannot tell whether he is ready to challenge, but there is no doubt the Cup is one of his passions, and underneath, there’s work going on for an Alinghi return to the AC soon.
“It’s important to increase the number of teams at this competition, doing what’s necessary to ensure there is a base of 8 to 10 challenging teams. Of course keeping the same boat will make this easier.”
On Nationality requirements [reported as probably 80% of the sailing crew if the Kiwis win -ed]. “It is something I could support. Speaking as a Swiss, after years of Alinghi now there are a generation of sailors who are now adults, and they are ready to enter Cup racing. I do not see problems with this rule.
Does Bertarelli have any other ideas? “Do not expect four years for the next edition, but three at the most. In the meantime, have racing in the interim to keep the plate warm. The TV product is there, but it needs development. We always compare the AC to Formula 1, but there is a big return for F-1 teams and sponsors, and that’s something we still do not see with sailing. You must give something concrete to the sponsors who want to finance a team, and of course you must have more nations – including Italy – which has always been a great engine for the Cup.”
What do you think of the Cup up to here? “I really like the boats, which are fascinating and hold great potential in the future. I was invited on board the French cat, thanks to Frank Cammas, and it really shows that they still have a lot of potential to be developed. With a few tweaks of the plumbing, they can become really fascinating boats “.
Gian Luca Pasini