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Letter from Switzerland: Introduction to Geneva

November 5, 2001
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Hey Gang,

I have made it to Geneva. My America’s Cup experience is underway. Upon arriving, the team welcoming group met me at the airport. I stumbled outside to the rent-a-car they had leased for me and my 5 bags plus a bike. The car (or rather lack of ) was the smallest vehicle larger than a bicycle. Once I had stuffed my belongings into the BIG BIKE, they gave me a map and said, “Go to Vevey, find your hotel, and then deliver this package to the boat yard.” So off I went.

Once on the highway I saw a sign that read ” auttobonne” which I assumed meant Auto Bahn (no speed limit). Surprisingly my oversized bike had a lot of pace to it. So here I am flying down the road enjoying the picturesque scenery, passing the rest of the cars on the road as if they’re standing still. At this point I realized I was not in Germany and there was a speed limit. Hours later on my 55 minute journey I found the hotel, boat yard and was ready for bed.

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The first event for the Swiss AC team was a ski weekend in Verbier. A fantastic mountain 1.5 hours from Geneva. Before dinner they had set up a visit to the local Turkish baths. This was a real experience. Once inside I climbed into the sauna for a little relaxation. I then realized that I was in a co-ed sauna and no one had clothes on.

We had a fantastic dinner at the local winery (with tour). The local winery also supplied us with fabulous wine in abundance. This was a great team-building exercise. I can’t remember anyone’s name, but I already have stories for their faces.

The snow fell all night amassing about a foot and a half of “the fresh” stuff. Skied all day and then slept all night.

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We are now back in Geneva ready to go to work on finishing the first boat. I will be involved with the “winch program” and expect to learn a lot about this aspect (considering I know nothing now).

I am off to the gym to meet the renowned Jean Pierre Eggar, our trainer. He is the best in the business. I am also finding out that the average America’s Cup sailor is in phenomenal shape. So, my fitness regime has begun.

I’ll keep you posted as the adventure continues.

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Kai Bjorn

Grinder

Swiss Challenge 2003

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