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America's Cup Hall of Fame inductees named

by Marcus Hutchinson on 12 Apr 2012
The sun sets as a crowd of more than 650 gather for the 17th America’s Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Paul Darling
The Herreshoff Marine Museum and the America's Cup Hall of Fame today announced the identity of the next three inductees to the America's Cup Hall of Fame. Coming from three distinct America's Cup eras two of them are Americans and one is Italian.

Established in 1992 the America's Cup Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes the achievements of individuals within the sport of sailing and in particular the America's Cup competition. On a regular basis several personalities are identified by the Hall of Fame Committee to be inducted. 2012 sees three more individuals chosen to join the ranks of those already inducted.

The first person to be inducted this year, posthumously, is Gerard B. Lambert, Sr. (USA) - who was active in the periods 1930 to 1937, the second, Jonathan Wright (USA) - was active between 1974 and 1987 and the third, Patrizio Bertelli (ITA) - has been active continuously since 1997.

Gerard B. Lambert, Sr (b 1887 - d 1967) had an association with the America's Cup that spanned the last three Cup cycles before the Second World War. In 1928 Lambert bought Vanitie, the unsuccessful Defender candidate of 1920, for the express purpose of converting her to the new J Class rule and using her as a trial horse for the four new American J Class yachts being built for the 1930 Defender trials. He was also a member of the syndicate that campaigned Weetamoe, one of those four new boats.

In 1934 Lambert was one of the members of the syndicate that built and campaigned Rainbow the Defender candidate that successfully dispatched one of the most competitive challengers ever, the British yacht Endeavour. During this match there was however an incident in one of the races that led to controversy between the competitors. The Challenger, not believing the incident had been fairly handled by the regatta organisers, vowed never to return.

In 1935, Lambert personally took it upon himself to try and rectify the unfortunate situation by mounting an ambitious diplomatic and sporting campaign. He bought Yankee, another unsuccessful but ultimately competitive J Class yacht, sailed her across the Atlantic in a race against his other yacht the record-breaking schooner Atlantic, before competing in the entire UK regatta circuit over the following Summer months. Lambert's initiative did much to reinvigorate motivation amongst the British yachting community for international competition such that a further challenge for the Cup came in 1937.

Lambert was again a member of the syndicate that campaigned the Defender that year - Ranger.

Patrizio Bertelli (b 1946) has been sailing and racing yachts his whole life. He has a passion for the America's Cup and in 1997 he founded the Italian team, now known as the Luna Rossa Challenge. Not the first Italian challenger Bertelli's team is however the most dedicated. No other Italian syndicate has ever challenged more than twice. The Luna Rossa Challenge has endeared itself to the Cup community by being efficient, stylish and always competitive and consequently doing a huge amount to build on the massive Italian popular following of the America's Cup.

This team has now challenged for the America's Cup four times, the first challenge saw them advance all the way through the Challenger Selection Series to win the Louis Vuitton Cup before being defeated by the Defender in the 30th Match in March 2000 in Auckland. Luna Rossa beat an American challenger candidate in the finals and the 2000 America's Cup Match became the first Match in the event's history without an American club involved.

Luna Rossa challenged again in 2003 and 2007 making it to the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals and finals respectively. Luna Rossa has recently challenged for the 34th America's Cup and brought a young international crew to tackle the new multi-hull world. Patrizio Bertelli recently announced in Palermo that, challenger or defender after the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco 2013 he will be back again with Luna Rossa. If this comes to pass Bertelli will equal the most prolific challenger of all times, Sir Thomas Lipton, with five attempts at wresting the America's Cup. Patrizio Bertelli is the CEO of the Prada Group.

Jonathan Wright (b 1953) is one of the unsung heroes of the12-Metre era in America's Cup history. Two main reasons put Wright in this position.

The first reason is due to Wright's sailing activities. Having crewed on board no fewer than five Defenders across a period of 13 years Wright is certainly made of the stuff that the Hall of Fame recognises.

Wright's contemporaries Dennis Conner, Ted Hood, Ted Turner and Tom Whidden have already been inducted for their contributions to America's Cup history during the 12-Metre era, but if it hadn't been for the skills of Wright and others trimming the sails on Intrepid, Courageous, Freedom, Liberty and Stars & Stripes things might not have worked out the way they did. Wright's proven all-round ability within an America's Cup campaign saw him tasked in 1985 with the huge responsibility of recruiting a squad of 25 sailors for the upcoming Stars & Stripes campaign of 1987, a campaign that would ultimately be successful in bringing the Cup back from Australia to America.

The second reason is due to Wright's communicating activities. Over his America's Cup career and since, Jon has shared his experiences and spread the message about the magic of the America's Cup to thousands of people over the years by virtue of having given over 150 talks to audiences around the United States ranging in size from 40 to 450 at a time.

Jon Wright currently holds the Vanderstar Chair at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Both Bertelli and Wright are past winners of the Louis Vuitton Cup on their first attempt.

The America's Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, jointly organized by the Herreshoff Museum and Louis Vuitton, will take place at the Marble House in Newport, RI on the evening of 29th June this year, at the same time as the America's Cup World Series regatta in Newport (27 June-1 July), the final event in the first annual season of racing the new AC45 catamarans.

Marble House, on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, is a significant venue for this year's Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Marble House belonged to Alva Belmont, the mother of Harold 'Mike' Vanderbilt, an early inductee into the Hall of Fame and syndicate member, with Lambert, of Rainbow and Ranger in 1934 and 1937. In 1983, Marble House was the setting for the America's Cup Trophy presentation on the occasion of Australia II's outstanding victory - the first Challenger to ever win a Match for America's Cup.
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