x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Team try to get the right men on board

A spokesman for the Alinghi team used Liverpool FC as an example to explain how it all works within the 100-plus member set-up.

Paco Latorre, spokesman for the Alinghi team who are due to defend the America's Cup off Ras al Khaimah in February, offered a football analogy in attempting to describe how the teams taking part in the world's oldest international sporting competition are structured. Latorre, a Spaniard with strong Valencia links, used Liverpool FC as an example to explain how it all works within the 100-plus member set-up at Alinghi.

"Our captain Brad Butterworth is like Rafa Benitez," said Latorre, "only Brad is more of a player-manager. He will have a squad of about 23 sailors to choose from and it will be down to him to select who goes into action for the three races. "The idea is to have cover for all positions and we feel we've got that, so there is likely to be a fair amount of squad rotation, just like there is at Liverpool and other top football clubs.

"The main difference is that we could have any number in our starting line-up. Brad, unlike Rafa, is not restricted to 11 men being involved in the action at any time. "That is one of the key areas of discussion among the team at the moment - the optimum number to have on board." Team work has been the key to Alinghi winning the Cup in Auckland in 2003 and then safely defending it in Valencia in 2007.

Latorre is convinced the team spirit will be as strong as ever when the crew and their support staff arrive in the UAE in a month's time to prepare for the February races against American challenger BMW Oracle Racing. The team also trained for a fortnight in the Italian city of Genoa. "There is a large human factor in deciding races," said Latorre, as the non-sailing members of the Alinghi team took advantage of unsuitable weather conditions yesterday to work carry out maintenance work on the boat at their short-term base.

wjohnson@thenational.ae