June 2004, Newport, RI
Chatting with Alinghi's Christian Karcher
Newport, June 23, 2004
The bio for Christian Karcher says Nationality: French. He is quick to point out that he is from Brittany. An experienced Cup sailor, Christian sailed for Ville de Paris 1992, France 2-3 in 1995, and Le Defi in 2000 before joining Team Alinghi for the 2003 campaign.
The man exudes friendly spirit. Christian is a grinder, in fact the coach of the Alinghi grinders, but he battles pain and infections from a long series of operations, particularly in his hip. His right hip has undergone eleven operations and he walks today with a cane (which is quickly tossed aside hidden from view).
Christian, also known as Kiki, discussed many items relating to the upcoming Cup in Europe, and his position on the boat among other things. When asked whether he would have preferred additional teams competing in the UBS Trophy, the answer (for the record he said "No") led to questions about fleet racing compared to match racing. He much preferred match racing with its aspect of two fighters in the boxing ring. Match racing requires the team to focus entirely on a single opponent, trading advantages and disadvantages. In fleet racing there are other factors, other opponents you could blame for failing to come first. In match racing, it’s your team against the other in front of millions of people. No excuses.
The team spirit runs deep in this man. Relating what it felt like to win the Cup he clenched his fists together and smiled, saying you can’t describe the magic - we did it! As a team, the joy was exponential.
In talking about the transition to a European venue Christian smiled and wondered how it would go at siesta time ...”Sorry, it’s 2:00 we are shutting down for a couple hours!” He figured the Europeans would be fine, but the Americans would have a lot of adjusting to do. Bigger smile, he expected it to drive the “Schuemann-ator” (Sailing Director Jochen Schuemann) crazy.
When asked about how the situation with Coutts was impacting Team Alinghi, in frank French fashion, Christian said if you want to know about Russell you should talk to Russell and further related that was what he had done. "I had a drink with Russell and said 'You should settle this!'" Karcher said the amazing thing was Alinghi remained as strong as it was while dealing with, or trying to deal with, the problem as it stands today.
Demonstrating with three of sponsor Nespresso’s sugar containers on the table he said: "There are three possible outcomes with Russell: one we like, one we can deal with, one we don’t like. As a grinder I will never give up, no matter how many times they call for a tack from the back of the boat. The Cup is about commitment and Russell has a commitment to me, to the team."
Through too many operations and numerous attempts to achieve victory, this boxer is determined to win again. You can easily pick out the grinders, they are the guys with barrel chests and massive forearms. It must also require a big heart.
Sailing Resume for Christian Karcher
Other Sailing Accomplishments: