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Land-locked Switzerland Wins at Sea

Posted March. 02, 2003 22:54,   


Situated in the middle of a continent, Switzerland does not have any direct access to the sea. The Alpine country has conquered a war waged in the sea.

Switzerland came out as a conqueror in the Race 5 of the 31st America`s Cup, which took place yesterday in New Zealand.

Alinghi of Switzerland beat by 45 seconds Team New Zealand of New Zealand, which had won the cup twice in a row.

Winning five games in a row, Switzerland has secured the cup, which goes to a team that wins 5 races out of the total of 9. For the first time as a European country, Switzerland conquered the 152 year long competition.

Prior to this, ever since its birth as a competition between Britain and the United States in 1851, the United States has won it 27 times, Australia once, and New Zealand twice.

Each boat participating in the America`s Cup can cruise across an ocean, and costs more than most "ordinary" airplanes. To build a ship for the contest, more than three years of preparation are required, pouring in more than 100 athletes, technicians and staff members, along with astronomical amount of money. That is why it is called a contest of superrich countries.

Experts attribute the success to Ernesto Bertarelli, the primary funder of Switzerland`s challenge and sailor of the boat Alinghi. He has made a whole-hearted investment and a wise selection of team members

Bertarelli, who owns the top No. 3 bioengineering company in Europe, has poured $70 million in preparation for the cup. Although he spent money on ship-building, he concentrated more on hiring excellent crewmen. He has bought the former Team New Zealand crew including Captain Russell Courts, who had led New Zealand to championship twice. In addition, he employed a German yacht athlete who has won the gold medal three times in the Olympics.

On top of that, the designing of the boat was commissioned to the prestigious University of Lausanne in Switzerland to arm the ship with cutting-edge technologies. Bertarelli said in delight, "Britain succumbed its power in the sea to the United States 150 years ago. Ever since, it had stayed with it. Now, we got it back."

It is the cup`s tradition that the next contest takes place in the sea of the country that wins the present competition. Having no sea of its own, where should Switzerland host the next cup? Currently on top of the candidate venue list are the Mediterranean Sea near France and Italy, and the sea off the Portuguese coast. In the meanwhile, Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco, USA, has pronounced its challenge right upon hearing Switzerland`s victory and said, "We will move on for the next cup right now."

Soon-Il Kwon stt77@donga.com