America's Cup defender boat Alinghi 5 catamaran is airlifted by a Russian MI-26 heavy lift helicopter from the waters of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday Aug. 7, 2009, as the giant yacht begins its flight over the Alps bound for the Mediterranean Sea, dangling beneath the world's biggest helicopter. After two weeks of sailing trials on Lake Geneva, the 90-foot catamaran will start sea trails ahead of their much heralded duel against US challenger BMW Oracle Racing for the 33rd America's Cup, which will be contested in the United Arab Emirates next February. (AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron)
LE BOUVERET, Switzerland (AP) -- The giant catamaran built by America's Cup champion Alinghi to defend the trophy was hoisted off Lake Geneva on Friday and flown over the Alps to the sea.
Alinghi 5 was wrapped in a cradle of ropes and tethered to the world's most powerful helicopter, a Russian MI-26 military transporter.
The 90-foot catamaran was airborne under clear blue skies at 9:10 a.m. local time to begin the journey from its boatyard at Le Bouveret to Genoa on Italy's Mediterranean coast.
Tracing a route along the Rhone river valley, the multimillion dollar cargo followed the Great St. Bernard Pass across the Alps before a scheduled refueling stop at Biella, Italy. The operation lasted 5 hours, 15 minutes, ending at the Yacht Club Italiano.
Tracing a route along the Rhone river valley, the multimillion dollar cargo followed the Great St. Bernard Pass across the Alps before a scheduled refueling stop at Biella, Italy.
The Swiss-owned, New Zealand-skippered Alinghi is expected to spend four weeks based in Genoa for trials at sea.
"We have had a very good initial trial period on the lake," skipper Brad Butterworth said. "In Genoa, with a bit more sea room, we will be able to stretch Alinghi 5's legs."
Alinghi 5 was launched last month and spent two weeks in trials on landlocked Lake Geneva.
The 33rd America's Cup will be contested between two-time champion Alinghi and American team BMW Oracle Racing in a best-of-three series off the Persian Gulf port of Ras al-Khaimah in February. BMW Oracle is testing its trimaran in San Diego.
The oldest trophy in sports will be decided in a rare head-to-head grudge match after two years of bitter public arguing and a series of court cases.
Click here for copyright permissions!
Copyright 2008 Associated Press