Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada launch their Luna Rossa AC72
LUNA ROSSA/Nigel Marple
With a mighty blow, Miuccia Prada shattered the traditional champagne bottle across the bowsprit of the Luna Rossa AC72 catamaran that will carry her famous fashion brand into battle on the continuing quest to win the America’s Cup for Italy.
Although the Italian flag flew large over the base, this latest addition to the AC72 fleet entered the waters of the Waitemata Harbor in Auckland, New Zealand, where Luna Rossa made its Cup debut a dozen years ago.
By Miuccia Prada’s side at the launch was her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, who earlier said that in the current economic climate Italy had an appetite for something joyful and serene.
Always noted for elegant graphics, the latest yacht to carry the Luna Rossa name cut a dash in the sunset with its hull and wing coated in a dramatic mirror surface. The symbolism from this treatment was appropriate in the sense that this yacht is a mirror image of Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC72, which was launched in July.
LUNA ROSSA/Carlo Borlenghi
The two teams have entered an agreement to build identical boats and conduct trial races against each other in Auckland over the next five or six months of the southern hemisphere summer.
Under the Protocol, the hulls of the Italian challenger were built at the Persico Marine facility in Northern Italy and were shipped to New Zealand in May. Most of the components, including the towering, 130-foot tall wing sail, were built in New Zealand.
As the Italian yacht was lowered into the water for the first time, fireworks erupted and the crowd of invited guests burst into cheers and applause. Among the guests were Regatta Director Iain Murray, Louis Vuitton’s Christine Belanger and a large contingent of Emirates Team New Zealand personnel, including Grant Dalton and skipper Dean Barker.
This presence reflects the close relationship between the two teams, which Patrizio Bertelli said was crucial to the Italian campaign. Having decided to re-enter the Cup arena quite late, Bertelli said the challenge would not have been viable without the technical design sharing arrangement with Emirates Team New Zealand.
Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info
“The objective is for us both to get to the Louis Vuitton Cup finals and then we will beat each other up on the water,” he said.
“We have two virtually identical boats that can be mutually beneficial. We can compare boats and improve boats better that way than in isolation. It is going to be very interesting.”
Bertelli, who confirmed that Luna Rossa was committed to competing in the 34th and 35th America’s Cup regattas, said the Italian team had also changed some elements of their boat, including foils and soft sails, to test different concepts.
Skipper Max Sirena said the team would take a step-by-step approach to learning how to handle their new boat. “We will not go out sailing in 25 knots on day one,” he said. “In the AC72, there are a lot of tricky systems to test. It is not just the structural part. There are the foils, the rudder systems, the wing – a lot of systems to check before we can start to push.
“We are excited to jump into the water. It is hard to keep the crew under control, because they want to push, but we need to push smartly.”
LUNA ROSSA/Carlo Borlenghi
Mindful of ORACLE TEAM USA’s recent capsize in San Francisco and subsequent damage to the main beam of the Artemis Racing yacht, Sirena said: “It is going to be hard to find the limit of the boats. We will take that step by step. We don’t want to have the same problem as Oracle and Artemis.”
He predicted that this America’s Cup would be won not necessarily by the team with the fastest boats or the best technology, but “by making fewer mistakes than the other guy.”
Asked how long he thought the team would take to get up to speed, Sirena replied: “We have watched Emirates Team New Zealand, Oracle and Artemis very closely. We don’t know how long it will take, but if everything goes well by the middle of the second week in November, we hope to line up around the race course with ETNZ.”
Even though the team is setting up half a world away, Bertelli believed there was support for their campaign in Italy.
“Italy is not going through a very happy period of time in general. We carefully thought about whether it was a good idea to make an investment in the America’s Cup at this time. Fortunately Prada could afford to make that investment, so we decided to go ahead.
“As far as the Italian public is concerned, they would be happy to support a winning team in any sport. Italy has an appetite for something joyful and serene. That is something we would like to do for Italy.”