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Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 19:29 GMT
Alinghi in buoyant mood
Alinghi brushed Oracle aside in the Louis Vuitton Cup final
Alinghi will face a far sterner test from Team New Zealand
Alinghi chief Ernesto Bertarelli is upbeat about his team's chances of beating holders New Zealand in the America's Cup.

The biotechnology billionaire believes the outcome of the best-of-nine series, which starts on 15 February, will be decided by the first 20 minutes of racing on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

And he hopes Alinghi, led by former Team New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts and tactician Brad Butterworth, will reap the benefits of their Louis Vuitton Cup experience.

"We are pretty confident in the potential of our SUI 64 boat. But the real test is in reality.

"The first 20 minutes will largely define the regatta's outcome," Bertarelli told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.

Swiss syndicate Alinghi beat US rivals Oracle 5-1 in the Louis Vuitton challengers' final to earn the right to face New Zealand.

If we bring the event to Europe it has to be done on the large scale that a great sporting festival deserves

Ernesto Bertarelli

And Bertarelli appeared to take a swipe at the New Zealand team, saying competitors had been able to observe and 'sometimes copy' Alinghi.

In a recent newspaper interview, he said he would probably move the America's Cup to the Mediterranean if Alinghi won the trophy.

The ports of Naples, Barcelona, Palma de Majorca, Lisbon and Saint Tropez were mentioned as possible venues for the event.

"It is a relatively complicated process. We have started to think about it. The first criteria is the weather, then the logistics," Bertarelli added on Tuesday.

"If we bring the event to Europe it has to be done on the large scale that a great sporting festival deserves."


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