Watkins sets sail for Alinghi

Alistair Watkins, the head of marketing at Honda Racing F1, has been hired to be the marketing chief of Team Alinghi, to work finding sponsorship for the Swiss America's Cup syndicate in the world of yachting.

Watkins won the job in competition to another top marketing name in F1 and an executive from the world of soccer. The Alinghi team is based in Switzerland and carries the colours of the Societe Nautique de Geneve and will defend the America's Cup in June in Valencia, having won the the last America's Cup competition in Auckland back in 2003. The team currently enjoys big sponsorship from UBS, and BT Infonet, plus support from Audemars Piguet, SGS, Nespresso, MSC Cruises and North Sails.

Watkins's new boss will be Ernesto Bertarelli, the former chief executive of the Swiss biotechnology Serono, who sold the company to Germany's Merck last year for an impressive $13.3bn. Bertarelli is estimated to be worth about $8.8bn.

The outcome of the America's Cup in June will decide the next venue of the competition with rumours suggesting that it will move to Dubai if Alinghi is toppled by Team New Zealand, the previous Cup holder.

"Alistair will be joining us from the Honda Racing F1 Team," said Bertarelli. "He brings a wealth of experience and insight of sports marketing at the very highest level."

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