The phrase “Formula One of sailing” has become the common parlance in America’s Cup circles over the competition’s recent editions. Its use is meant to bring attention to the even greater use of technology in sailing’s most prestigious regatta. Now, that analogy is becoming literal.
Red Bull Racing announced a partnership with Alinghi, a Swiss sailing team that won and successfully defended the America’s Cup in the 2000s. You might be thinking to yourself, how does a landlocked country compete in sailing’s oldest competition?
Alinghi Red Bull Racing will continue to represent Alinghi’s home yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève. There’s a long tradition of racing on Lake Geneva. The SNG is almost 150 years old and has thousands of members. Alinghi beat Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup in 2003 and defended the trophy from the Kiwis in 2007. The team lost the Cup in 2010 to Oracle Team USA.
Red Bull operates its own sailing team that Hans-Peter Steinacher and Roman Hagara led until last month. The pair are two-time Olympic sailing champions and Austria’s most successful sailors of all time. Steinacher will move to Alinghi Red Bull Racing to skipper the team.
The new partnership is connected to Red Bull’s Formula One team through the team’s applied engineering division, Red Bull Advanced Technologies. The F1 team principal Christian Horner spoke at the announcement press conference about how the engineering expertise accrued by the F1 team will help achieve Red Bull’s goal of winning the America’s Cup.
Red Bull Racing will have to defeat their Formula One rival, Mercedes, to win the trophy. Earlier this year, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team announced a similar partnership with the INEOS Britannia sailing team. Ferrari is also rumored to be close to an agreement with the Luna Rossi Prada Pirelli team.
It is widely believed that this era of technical tie-ups was sparked by the introduction of a cost cap in F1. These alliances allow F1 teams to keep technical staff associated with their teams but not on their payrolls.