Secrecy surrounds America's Cup construction

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The Independent Online

Work has begun on the Alinghi team's construction of a multihull defence of the America's Cup at a factory in Villeneuve, Switzerland.

Secrecy surrounds whether it will be a twin-hulled catamaran or a three-hulled trimaran but the design team is ready to press the go button on a campaign that could cost €70m over the next 12 months.

What Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi team is not prepared to do is budge on demanding a date no earlier than next May to meet Larry Ellison's San Francisco-based challenger, BMW Oracle.

Neither side is in control as their bitter struggle in the New York Supreme Court awaits a decision from Mr Justice Herman Cahn and Alinghi's lawyers have already tried to refer the matter to the Appellate Division in the hope that the match will be delayed beyond a best of three series in October this year which is being pushed for by Ellison and skipper Russell Coutts.

"Our job is to race Oracle in a multihull in May 2009," said design co-ordinator Grant Simmer yesterday. "We believe that is the first date there can be a match."

"We need nine months to build the boat and a further two to shake it down" said designer Rolf Vrolijk. "To sail in six months is quite impossible." Britain's leading multihull designer, Nigel Irens, has been drafted into the team, but he said that, although there was a leaning to one side, he could not say whether the yacht, capable of speeds up to 40 knots and crewed by over 20, would have two hulls or three.