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America's Cup- We are here for the sailing not a TV show - Luna Rossa

by Richard Gladwell on 18 May 2013
Patrizio Bertelli amd Max Sirena (skipper) Luna Rossa Press Conference in Alameda-San Francisco Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa© http://www.lunarossachallenge.com

Luna Rossa, the Italian Challenger for the 34th America's Cup have just released a video of the media conference addressed by the team's principal, Patrizio Bertelli.

The media conference was attended by the whole Italian team, who stood as a wall of support behind Mr Bertelli, skipper Max Sirena and key team members. Behind them all was the team's AC72, expected to sail any day in San Francisco.

Speaking through an interpreter, as is his custom, Mr Bertelli confirmed that his team had meet with the three others and the Review Committee, established to investigate all matters surrounding the 34th America's Cup, which was marred by a fatal accident a week ago.

He began by saying, that the America's Cup has always had it's ups and downs, and what has happened is far more serious than anything that has happened in the past.

Mr Bertelli got quickly onto his recurring theme that the Challengers had signed up to a class rule and Protocol for the conduct of the event, and that they expected the 34th America's Cup to be conducted on this basis.

He did point out that the Protocol could be modified by a majority of the teams, where the Class Rule could only be modified with the agreement of all teams.

'We must be true to the AC72 class of boat as it was established by the Defender and the Challenger of Record. The question is what can we do and what is going to happen in the next few weeks.'

Three days after the incident which killed Artemis Racing's Andrew Simpson, Luna Rossa sent to all the teams, and the organisers, a set of proposals for change.

Safety first priority
First item was to improve the safety of the sailors, by improving helmets, introducing body armour and improving the safety in any other way possible. The second proposal required to clarification and improvement of all safety processes on land and on sea. 'We want a very active role on the water. We want a water ambulance. we want professional divers to be ready and we want paramedics to be on the water for the services of all the sailors. Even a helicopter to be available to evacuate a sailor if it was needed.'

Control of wind speeds was the third proposal from Luna Rossa. He reminded the media present that, at a meeting in Newport, the wind limits were amended by the competitors to be 25kts for the Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin and Semi-Finals and 28 kts for the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, and 33kts for the America's Cup Match. 'With these three limits of wind, 25, 28 and 33kts, we propose to lower them to 20kts. Whilst for the America's Cup Match we propose 25kts instead of the 33kts, currently in the Protocol.'

Luna Rossa also proposed that the wind only be allowed to increase by 2kts, above the limit, once the race had started.

He added that the America's Cup organisers had not ruled on the matters raised by Luna Rossa but had passed them across to the Review Committee.

'This morning we had a meeting with all the Teams, the organisers and America's Cup Review Committee. The Review Committee, who announced that they do not have the desire to have the authority to decide on what rules changes must be accomplished for this America's Cup.'

He noted that it was yet to be defined how the recommendations were to be implemented. 'Right now there is not many things that are very clear to us, so we have had a team meeting today.

'All of us here, present before you have decided how we are going to behave ourselves in the next few weeks, and what we are going to do.

'First we want to raise the safety of the sailors.

'In order for a boat to be safe, the crew must feel safe, and they must have confidence and need to trust their boat.

'I have asked the sailors if they trust the boat, and they have told me that they do trust the boat, and that they can sail on it.'

Mr Bertelli added that obviously they would use any technology, and tools, that could make the boat even safer.

Wind limits to be reduced
He then got back on the theme of reducing wind limits to around what they asked. Luna Rossa want to race as per the Protocol and Class Rule.

'We will no tolerate any bending of the rules, using as an excuse the latest fatality, and we will respect the Rules, the Protocol and Class Rule as they have been approved.

'We are absolutely in favour of discussing with all other teams, to try and find common solutions to the problems that we face. But we will not accept any imposition.'

Answering questions from the media, Mr Bertelli made the point that the teams needed to be free to make their own decisions whether to go sailing. 'If it is blowing 35kts we want to be able to decide not to go out.' He added that had to be the team's decision and not subject to any penalty from the organisers.

(Currently there is a requirement for all teams to race, and if they fail to do so, they may be fined $100,000 for each race missed.)

Development of in-house sailing limits would be started by the team as soon as they began sailing in San Francisco, said Mr Bertelli.

These would not be just wind, but also sea conditions depending on whether there was a flood or ebb tide. 'we need to understand how the Bay is and develop our operational limits, and do that right away.

'The thing to do is not to fiddle with all the rules, but to get all the competitors around the table, and to make decisions as soon as we can, to bring clarity to the America's Cup.'

Mr Bertelli wants to see the rules changed, so that the decision whether to race or not lies with the skippers and not with the event organisers, and that the fines and penalties for not racing are removed.

'For us it is fundamental the wind limit cannot be too low or too high. We will pull out of the Event if the decisions that are taken are not correct.'

TV a lesser consideration

'We are not here to produce a show. We are here to sail, to race and to win the America's Cup', Mr Bertelli said in response to a question as to whether the changes he wanted would affect TV ratings.

'For us the first thing is the sport, the sailing, and television is secondary to the sailing.'

It seemed that until this Friday morning meeting, the competing teams were of the opinion that the Review Committee would have the power to impose their decisions on the competitors, but that is not the case, and the competitors would have to agree of the changes between themselves.

'That was quite a shock for many of the participants,' said Mr Bertelli.

The morning meeting had no agenda with the Committee dong the talking, and the proposals put forward by Luna Rossa were not discussed.

Mr Bertelli also noted that the Committee would be working very hard to ascertain the reasons for the Artemis fatality, and would come quickly come forward with recommendations, but they would only be recommendations and it would be for the teams to take responsibility to give them effect.

© This report is copyright to Richard Gladwell and Sail-World.com and may not be republished without permission

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