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Ed Baird - Back on the helm
(April 27, 2010) American Ed Baird was at the helm when the Alinghi team won the 32nd America’s Cup in 2007, which led to him being honored that year as the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. But during the 33rd Match he was relegated to an advisory role with the team, and with the future of the event unknown at this stage, he is now taking advantage of other opportunities.
Last week it was announced that the Italian fashion house Prada was returning to the America's Cup scene, where team owner Patrizio Bertelli - a three-time America's Cup campaigner - had reassembled the Luna Rossa team for the Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta in La Maddalena, Sardinia next month. With Ed Baird selected as helmsman, Scuttlebutt checked in with the Florida resident to get an update:
What is the status of the Alinghi team?
I believe most contracts have wrapped up, and you're already aware that daily operations have ceased. I was in Valencia last week, and it was pretty quiet at the base. My guess is that Ernesto is waiting to see what BMW Oracle's plans are before he makes any decisions, but we haven't spoken for a while so I am not really sure.
How should your participation with the Luna Rossa team be viewed?
I have been asked to sail with Luna Rossa for the next Louis Vuitton event. I don't know what Mr. Bertelli is thinking for the longer term. Again, I imagine it will hinge on what the plan is for the 34th Cup. I think we all hope that teams like Luna Rossa will be interested in being involved. For me, for the moment, it's been a real pleasure getting back in the Cup boats for some match race training and it will be great to get into some racing with the other teams again.
The Luna Rossa team was a strong contender at the 32nd America’s Cup, losing only to Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton challenger finals. Do they have their sites on the 34th Match?
At this time, I am aware that Luna Rossa has a schedule involving the TP 52 circuit and the one Louis Vuitton event for this calendar year. Last year they had an STP 65 racing. It's good that they have kept active and have a core of sailors continuing to race, but a full Cup program will mean growing the size of the team substantially. To really know, you'll need to ask Mr. Bertelli if that's what he's planning.
What is the Luna Rossa team’s schedule leading to the Louis Vuitton Trophy event in La Maddalena on May 22-June 6?
We're doing a few days of training in Valencia, and then heading to La Maddalena like the other teams. There's not time for anything more, so we'll be learning how to work together on the fly as we go racing. Again, though, it will be fantastic to be racing again against so many strong teams.
What is it like to be among an afterguard that includes Olympic medalists Robert Scheidt and Torben Grael?
It's always a pleasure to be around sailors who have accomplished so much. What many of them share is a love for the process and the commitment. It just seems natural and very comfortable to start learning how to work together to do our best. We know what we're up against. We know who we have to try and beat. So we've just begun our process of trying to get the most out of ourselves for this short term goal of racing together next month. We'll see where it takes us.
With all that occurred during the build up to the 33rd Match, and the match itself, what do you see as the big take away from that event?
Let me tell you a story. I spoke to a member of the winning team and wanted to congratulate him. His reply to me was, "Look, let's see who wins the next one and then congratulate them. For this last one, let's just forget about it and move on." I thought that was good advice. The boats were amazing. The process and the event were not. Let's do better.
If you were king, tell us your plan for the 34th America’s Cup.
Seems like it would be fun to have a lot of teams, all in the same place, that could train, socialize and compete with each other for a couple of years before selecting a challenger that would race in the Cup against the defender. Monohulls for close racing. A fair race course that doesn't heavily favor any one side. Didn't that work pretty well once or twice before? I'm sure there's a place where that can be done.
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