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August 8, 2009

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Home » Sports » Sailing

Alinghi's boat gets a ride across the Alps

THE giant catamaran built by America's Cup champion Alinghi to defend the trophy was hoisted off Lake Geneva yesterday and flown over the Alps to reach the sea for the first time.

The sleek twin-hull of Alinghi 5 was wrapped in a cradle of ropes and tethered to the world's most powerful helicopter, a Russian MI-26 military transporter. The 27.43-meter catamaran was airborne under clear blue skies to begin the journey from its boatyard at Le Bouveret in Switzerland to Genoa on Italy's Mediterranean coast.

Tracing a route along the Rhone river valley, the multimillion dollar cargo followed the Great St Bernard Pass across the Alps before a scheduled refueling stop for the helicopter at Biella, Italy.

The Swiss-owned, New Zealand-skippered Alinghi team is expected to spend four weeks based in Genoa for trials at sea.

Alinghi 5 was launched last month and spent two weeks undergoing trials on landlocked Lake Geneva.

The 33rd America's Cup will be contested between two-time champion Alinghi and American team BMW Oracle Racing in a best-of-three race series off the Persian Gulf port of Ras al-Khaimah next February. BMW Oracle is currently testing its trimaran in San Diego.

The oldest trophy in world sports will be decided in a rare head-to-head grudge match after two years of bitter public arguing and a series of court cases.


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