Hard News by Russell Brown

You talkin' to us?

Is he talking about us? Swiss president Pascal Couchepin has sent the Alinghi team a letter on the eve of the America's Cup showdown.

Couchepin said Alinghi's win in the challenger regatta was a "victory of team spirit and an attitude which should serve as an example: the choice of action over inaction, of optimism over nostalgia, of openness to the world over inward looking nationalism."

Uh, I think he is talking about us. He also hailed Alinghi's victory in the America's Cup challenger series as a "remarkable sporting achievement for a small country with no access to the sea." But plenty of access to money to buy the sailors of countries that can actually sail, I guess. Isn't it a bit rich to play the nationalism card when you buy your talent from the country you're running down?

Curiously enough, the Swiss don't seem to feel patriotic about Alinghi.

Frankly, it is a bit hard to love Alinghi the way people loved Prada last time round, what with its slightly creepy way with the media, questions over the provenance of those threatening letters and Bertarelli's silly snit from the safety of Switzerland.

But perhaps that's the way of the game: the series of revelations and counter-revelations about what happened in the old Team New Zealand seemed indicative above all else of a high degree of prickery.

Curiously, word from the current Team New Zealand seems relentlessly positive. I have a mate or two in a position (nothing glamorous - quite the opposite) to hear things and, consistently, the word is that not only is the boat fast, the crew is very much together and confidence is high. Should we thank Ralph Norris?

I don't care all that much about yachting, but I love it when billionaires bring their money to my town. Bring it on. Again.