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Five Questions for Ed Baird

SW's Angus Phillips catches up with the former Alinghi helmsman at Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena, where he's driving for Luna Rossa.

May 24, 2010
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Sailing World

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Luna Rossa (right) faces off against Mascalzone Latino in the early stages of Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena. Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy

**1. Your tactician here on Luna Rossa is Torben Grael, famous for chasing breezes no one else can see. What is like for an analytical type like you to team up with an intuitive guy like Grael?
**
Isn’t it funny how other people see you? The truth is, Torben is incredibly analytical, maybe about different things than I am. I’ve changed my view about Torben after sailing with him a few days. He’s very thoughtful and organized, and he does have a great intuition about what’s coming next with the breeze, which is a good thing if you’re calling tactics. I love to look around, too, but when you’re focused on steering , you have to concentrate on the next move.

How frustrating was it to watch the Deed of Gift match in Valencia with someone else at the wheel of Alinghi?

**2. The whole thing was disappointing. We needed more teams and a lot more people watching. Unfortunately, it was so contentious. Our sport is generally well organized, but sometimes in major events, you get arguments among the top people that can’t be resolved. The lesson learned is, eventually they resolve themselves and we move on.
**
In 1988, we were all frustrated (by the Deed of Gift match) and thought it was behind us. But it happened again and now we have to hope it’s behind us again.

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**3. What’s a good boat for the next Cup?
**
I’ve been consistent. Boats that can come close together and go the same speed will be exciting to watch. The racing in 2007 was good, but it’s time to step up. Monohulls are the way to go if you want to keep the racing close. If you make the boats too fast, every little puff can end the race.

The sailors want the races to be physically and mentally challenging and close, so it’s exciting. A lot depends on the venue, but no matter where you put it, it’s pretty unlikely to get two multihulls bow to stern going around the weather mark, and that’s what’s exciting in this sport.

**4. Your summer plans?
**
A lot of family time. Our oldest son Max is going off to college at Northwestern; the two young ones (Nic, 12, and Ty, 14) have a huge summer of regattas and clinics in Optis. They’ll be at the Nationals in July in Deltaville, Va., and at clinics and regattas in the Caribbean, Newport and Pensacola, if the oil spill doesn’t spoil that one.” The spill “is something we’re monitoring at home just like a terrible storm. If it comes ashore in Florida, it could be a real disaster for us.

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**5. Any chance Alinghi will return to the America’s Cup?
**
Ernesto (Bertarelli, the Cupholder from 2003-2010) is sailing his catamaran on the Lake of Geneva this summer and waiting to see what happens next, just like the rest of us.

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