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America's Cup- Luna Rossa - Questions from the NZ sailing media

by Richard Gladwell on 4 Nov 2012
Launch of the new Luna Rossa AC72 wingsailed catamaran on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, in Auckland, New Zealand. Miuccia Prada christens the boat Luna Rossa/Studio Borlenghi ©

Last Thursday week, before the launch of Luna Rossa's America's Cup Challenger in Auckland, Team Patron, Patrizio Bertelli, and skipper Max Sirena, held a media conference in the Sofitel for New Zealand media.

Most of the key New Zealand sailing media were there. Almost without exception they have all covered the America's Cup since at least 1987 with some going back a lot further back than that.

There were a mix of sailing and general sports media present.

Following is a record of the conference with the general sports media questions stripped out.

Bear in mind that Mr Bertelli only spoke in Italian requiring the questions to be translated from English into Italian and then the response translated back from Italian into English. Max Sirena answered directly in English, the answers maybe lost a little fluency, and certainly responses on the provisions of the America's Cup Protocol should not be taken literally.

The conference opened with Mr Bertelli taking questions from Peter Montgomery.

Is Patrizio apprehensive about what he is taking on?

Bertelli: We still have to discover a lot about these boats, we don't know their limits yet. They might turn out to be dangerous which is our only real concern

Our big concern is that if you damage tour wingsail for any reason while training, then you just stop training.
Normally if you have some trouble with your mast or sails you can work overnight to replace it, but you can't do that with the wingsail.

If you really push the boats to the limit you may wind up doing what Oracle did. Not having spare wing sails and other components does leave the team a bit constrained when practicing manoevers.

Is Patrizio comfortable about using the Team New Zealand technology?

Bertelli: The reason we struck a technical cooperation with Team New Zealand was time. We started very late. We decided to save time and hit the ground running. Since we have two virtually identical boats that could be beneficial in terms of comparing performances.

We will be able to sail together from next week. We have deliberately design some components which are different.

What are the different design components?

Bertelli: It is the foils which are different and so are the jibs and some of the sails are different, but the hulls and wingsails are the same.

Grant Dalton has criticised these boats quite heavily. If Luna Rossa won the America's Cup would Mr Bertelli continue with these boats?

Bertelli: We support whatever solution makes the Cup more affordable, fand cheaper and for more challengers – whatever entices people to Challenge. It could be smaller catamarans or fast lightweight monohulls. The starting point should be to ask how many challengers we want in the America’s Cup? Then we should ask how much the whole thing should cost as the coat of human resources is much lower the cost of technology.

We would love to have more young people involved in the America’s Cup. There are plenty of young people who would live to sail int eh America's Cup, but with this formula they are left out of the frame. One the other hand we very much appreciate the AC45 World Series. It could have been a very good idea to use the 45's in the America’s Cup itself, or something similar with stricter design rules that would have encouraged more teams to challenge and we would have more entries than we have now.

Right now it feels like we are going back to the 1930’s with the J-Class, where they had two or three Challengers with every Cup and we are back to that.

Is Mr Bertelli disappointed with the fact that there maybe only three Challengers?

Bertelli: We are not disappointed with the numbers. The main reason we decided to come back is that, after all the commitments that had been made to the America's Cup, it was a big disappointment that an Italian decided to take up the role of Challenger of Record and then decided to withdraw quite late, and this did not Italy in the best of light. When we decided to come back we had just won the Extreme 40 series, and so we had accumulated one year of experience with the catamaran at that time. But it was only possible to come in so late with the technical agreement with Emirates Team NZ. However we are disappointed with the fact that it has become so complicated, and that it takes 40 people to put the boat in the water.

It is always too easy to criticise from the outside so we wanted to become involved so we can have a say directly.

How long did you spend observing Team NZ sailing and how long will it take to get to their level?

Sirena: Obviously looked closely at ETNZ sailing and we have done the same for Oracle and will be doing the same for Artemis every day. We don’t really know how long it will take us to get to Emirates Team NZ’s level. We’ll know in a couple of weeks. If all goes well, we hope by the second week of November to be able to line up with them on the racecourse. But this is a new class and new boat for us.

The main thing is that we all have the same time as everyone between now and July 4, 2013. Emirates Team New Zealand launched three months ago and have sailed on just 12 days, so far. In the past it has all been about the quantity of sailing that you did. Now we all have the same quantity of days on which are allowed to sail, and it will all be about the quality of the sailing. Each single minute you spend on each sailing has to be at 100%.

The main difference with these boats are that it is going to be hard to know where the limits of the boat are. It is not a forgiving boat. So it is step by step to know the limit of the boat and how much we can push on the boat. Otherwise we have the same problem as Oracle and even Artemis. We think we can win this Cup by making less mistakes than the other guy.

Can you give us a comparison between Oracle and ETNZ?

Sirena: The main difference is in the stiffness of the platform, which is a consequence of why Oracle capsized. You can see the distortion between the leeward hull and the windward hull when they fly. At time the windward hull’s bow is touching the water before the leeward hull. Obviously it is a poor design for foiling. It is a normal design for a catamaran that does not foil. They pushed so hard that day because they knew Team NZ had been sailing in 25 knots, and were foiling easily. As you know the America’s Cup is a psychological game and you want to put pressure on your competitors as much as possible, and the best way to do that is to going out sailing, and pushing hard.

The main issue with Oracle is that when they started pushing hard on foils in the breeze, they went without the right tools. When you have so much distortion on the platform, the angle of the tip of the foil (the horizontal foil) and the rudder winglets which are like elevators. So the range of the angle between the tip of the foil and the angle of the rudder has to be similar when they are foiling. By having a lot of torsion in the platform every time when the foil and the winglet are touching the water they are pushing against the other float, so they create a moment which is why they actually capsized.

We have seen Team NZ be very careful with the weather in which they sail. What is your approach, Max?

Sirena: We have to be careful in the weather we start sailing in. we are not going sailing on Day 1 in 25kts. We are going to progress slowly. This is not an AC Version 5 boat which is very easy to get up to speed in a breeze. The catamaran has a lot of tricky systems to test including the wingsail, and the lifting systems on the foils which all has to be tested before we start pushing after four or five days of sailing.

Do you have access to all ETNZ’s sailing data from the last couple of months?

Sirena: The agreement we have is written in the Protocol and that clearly limits what we can do. So we have all the drawings for boat one. We cannot share data after the sailing day. We cannot see their data analysis. So that is why we go out and watch them to we can see as much as possible.

You have a single platform and three wingsails like all the others. Are you going to take advantage of those budgets?

Sirena: We are not going to have two platforms. There will be some spares for the platform. We have a second wing coming in the next few months, and obviously we will have a lot of things to change between the Round Robins and over the next few months. Obviously you would like to have a spare boat, but we are happy with the decision we took to just have one platform.

Artemis was supposed to be the first to launch in early July and we will launch ahead of them. So far the best teams are Emirates Team NZ and us. Emirates Team NZ is right on schedule. But one of the big differences compared to previous campaigns is that it will be hard for each team to get two platforms on the water at once. To get one single boat in the water, we need almost 35 people to support the boat.

How long is Luna Rossa planning to be in NZ, and what are the benefits of sailing in NZ and how long can that be extended?

Sirena: Our plan is to try an achieve as much as possible racing one against the other in Auckland. The plan is to stay here until March. We could extend this period, but to shut down the base here which is what we are going to us in san Francisco and put it up again in San Francisco would take 60 days which is a long period. We are going to rush to go to San Francisco. But it is a big bonus to be sailing against another team here, rather than by yourself in the middle of the ocean.

The last few weeks we have had a couple of new people join the team and we are now just under 80 people, which is almost half the other teams.

As a competitor with great honour in the America's Cup regattas since 2000, how does Mr Bertelli feel about what happened in 2007-2010 between Oracle and Alinghi, and can he confirm that Luna Rossa will be challenging for two America's Cups? What are Luna Rossa's motives in making that statement?

Bertelli: What happened between Alinghi and Oracle - that is what the America's Cup is all about ever since it began.

If some had been less selfish, it would have been easier to find some sort of solution, to avoid leaving out all the other teams which is what eventually happened. But that is just wishful thinking, we all know what the America's Cup is made of.

To answer your second question, yes we feel it doen't make sense to be just involved in this Cup, so we can confirm that we will be in the 35th America's Cup as well.

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