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Gladwell's Line- Italian Big Cat spots the Kiwi Cream

by Richard Gladwell on 25 Oct 2012
Patrizio Bertelli says this America’s Cup feels like a return to the days of the J-Class with only two or three boats © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Have just got back from the Luna Rosa Media Conference held ahead of the launch, in Auckland, tomorrow evening.

Speaking were team head Patrizio Bertelli and skipper Max Sirena. Mr Bertelli spoke in Italian and worked through an interpreter, although it lacked some of the flow, he was very forthcoming in his answers.

Mr Bertelli looked like a cat that had just spotted the cream.

Maybe it was the sight of Emirates Team NZ's rigged AC72 parked a hundred metres away from the media conference Sofitel in Auckland's Viaduct harbour, and knowing that his team were about to get one of those.

Max Sirena was equally upbeat about the team's early Christmas present.

Key points to come out of the session were that Mr Bertelli would have liked to have seen the America's Cup made more affordable (smaller catamaran or lightweight, fast monohull).

Their team size is around 80, it takes almost half that number just to launch the AC72, which is ridiculous.

Mr Bertelli seemed very comfortable with his decision to jog alongside Emirates Team NZ in terms of the design they have, and the training arrangements in Auckland. Although not crowing about the misfortunes of others in San Francisco, they were very comfortable about starting their sailing program in Auckland going into the summer, and expected to start lining up against Emirates Team NZ in early-mid November.

They were very pleased with the design choice, and the way the Emirates Team NZ boat has been performing.

Luna Rossa will have only one platform, but will build a second wingsail for delivery later in the year/early 2013. They say that their platform and first wingsail are the same as Emirates Team NZ's AC72, but the foils and softsails will be different.

Asked to draw comparisons between Oracle and Emirates Team NZ's boats, Sirena was critical of the platform twist in the Oracle boat, sailing that it was OK if the boats were sailing as catamarans, but when hydrofoiling the effect of the twist was for one of the rudder winglets to act against the other - and he believed that this is what triggered the Oracle capsize.

Mr Bertarelli covered the reasons as to why Luna Rossa challenged, which was triggered by the withdrawal of Mascalzone Latino, the then Challenger of Record. Mr Bertalli said they felt this withdrawal bought dishonour to Italy and they started looking seriously at a Challenge.

After they won the Extreme 40 regatta, Luna Rossa had virtually decided to go ahead, but did not have the time to run up their own design team, so they talked to Emirates Team NZ.

The cost of the Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 is about 45million Euros and they are in for the 34th and 35th America's Cups. Mr Bertelli is very comfortable with the timing of this America's Cup as it will be on around 10.00pm at night - the time when most Italians are inviting friends around in the summer, and it will be very pleasant to sit with friends and see the racing.

They were very encouraged by the crowds, and interest, for the America's Cup World Series in Italy.

Luna Rossa is also challenging to give some local pride in Italy being able to compete once again in the America's Cup, and while Mr Bertelli is conscious of the difficult times that his country is undergoing, he is also well aware that sporting success is a good way of making people feel good about themselves again, and noted the lift that Spain - also not in a good position economically, right now - received when they won the Football World Cup and European Championship, which lifted everyone's morale.

Questioned on his view of the dark era of the America's Cup from 2007-2010, Mr Bertelli was philosophical, saying that was part of the America's Cup, and was all part of the game. His only regret was that some parties selfishly would not allow others into the America's Cup when they had the opportunity.

He feels now that the America's Cup is going back to the days of the J-Class with only two or three boats in the Cup.

Luna Rossa will take their base from Auckland to San Francisco - which will take 60 days - quite an amount of downtime. They noted that even if they had wanted to launch and sail in San Francisco, right now, they would not have been able to do so, because the facilities are not ready.

Max Sirena said they were looking for quality sailing time in New Zealand, not quantity of time due to the sailing days limitations. they expect to start sailing against ETNZ in the second week in November, but they are very conscious of the need to work up gradually and not get over confident like Oracle did, and push things too hard - that is when the risk starts coming in.

Making a quip about this being the Facebook Generation, Max Sirena pointed out that Luna Rossa had just launched their Facebook site and in an era where everything seems to be measured in Facebook Likes, Luna Rossa already had 5000 ticks from its fans.

That's my quick notes, we'll have a fuller report and quotes on Sail-World.com later in the day

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