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America's Cup: Bertelli labels AC75 'Too difficult, too extreme'

by Fabio Pozo/Richard Gladwell 23 Jun 2019 01:46 PDT 23 June 2019
Luna Rossa sail their three man prototype - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Challenge for the 36th America' Cup © Luna Rossa

Patrizio Bertelli, team principal of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has hit out at the AC75 class chosen for the 36th America's Cup labelling the foiling 75ft monohull as "too difficult, too extreme".

Mr Bertelli claims that the extreme sailing technology involved in the AC75 is enough to be an entry barrier for new teams/late challengers. A point which has not been mentioned by the teams themselves in several interviews with Sail-World over the past few months.

"The electronic part is especially complicated. We have been working on it for two years ... ", Mr Bertelli explains.

His opinion is that there will only be four teams on the start line in Auckland for the 2021 America's Cup.

La Stampa's Fabio Pozzo, reported Mr Bertelli's coments after a team presentation in Palermo on June 21, 2019.

Pozzo, La Stampa's America's Cup correspondent, has been the source of many insights from Mr Bertelli, including the leak that the class for the 36th America's Cup would be in a foiling monohull.

Pozzo says "it was Patrizio Bertelli himself who wanted the return of the monohull after the era of catamarans used in the America's Cup in San Francisco and Bermuda."

"Yes, but I had suggested to the Kiwis to choose a less extreme boat than this one. A sort of modern VOR60 (the boat of the former Volvo Ocean Race) on which to develop two rudders with foils. Instead, they [ETNZ/RNZYS] wanted a hyper-technological solution, they insisted ... ".

Pozzo sums up saying: "The New Zealanders have gone too far, they wanted to raise the bar too much, focusing on a completely new boat, but also very extreme, which requires great research and tuning to understand it and make it run. And to do this, we need knowledge, men, time."

Helmsman Francesco Bruni echoes Mr Bertelli's comments.

"The AC75 is a harder boat than the catamarans. The latter rose on the water, resting on four points, didn't they? The two rudders and the two foils."

(In fact, the rules permitted the AC50 to sail on four foils only during tacks and gybes. In normal straight line sailing mode, they used only three foils.)

"These rest only on three, the two rudders and the arm-foil, with the other arm weighing one ton and protruding from the hull for five meters. Do you understand? It's a question of balance. You have to come up with a new way to navigate, and it's not easy. We saw it after a year on the simulator and with the first outings at sea with the prototype," Bruni added.

Despite the comments on the perceived degree of difficulty associated with sailing the AC75, Bruni describes the first sail Luna Rossa had on their recently launched prototype 3-crew foiling monohull as "a pleasure, one of the most beautiful sailing days of my life".

"It's a question of speed and balance, you have to find the magic ", Bruni noted.

A six-time challenger for the America's Cup, Luna Rossa did not compete in the 2017 America's Cup, and for the 2013 America's Cup, they sailed an AC72 using a base design package purchased from Emirates Team New Zealand, with whom they also had a training arrangement. Both teams had foiling AC72's - a class which was not originally designed to foil, and used very crude technology compared to the subsequent AC50.

The last time Luna Ross mounted a full, unpartnered America's Cup Challenge was in 2007 in Valencia. Since that time various sizes of monohull have been promoted up to the AC90 proposed by Alinghi when they successfully defended in 2007.

New York Yacht Club is also believed to have favoured a smaller non-foiling monohull.

Alinghi's selection of Challenger was overturned in the New York Supreme Court, resulting in a Deed of Gift match being sailed using craft up to the maximum Load Waterline Length of 90ft, specified in the Deed of Gift a 19th-century document which governs the conduct of the America's Cup.

Golden Gate Yacht Club raced a 120ft overall wingsailed trimaran in a Match they won 2-0 from a soft sailed catamaran entered by Alinghi. For the 2013 America's Cup, Golden Gate signed a Protocol calling for wingsailed 72ft catamarans, for which Emirates Team New Zealand responded with a foiling design concept.

From that point, there was no turning back as the foiling boats rapidly attracted the attention of the mainstream sports media, who for years had likened the America's Cup Matches as like watching paint dry.

The Protocol for the 35th America's Cup called for a full foiling 62ft catamaran, later reduced to a 50ft version by a majority vote only of the teams. As a result of that decision, Luna Rossa who were the most advanced of the teams, withdrew from that event.

Several of the Luna Rossa team then joined Emirates Team New Zealand and played a key role in the Kiwi team. That package of people and technology also included the loan of a foiling AC45 test boat, ahead of the Kiwis launch of the prototype AC45, stretched to resemble an AC50.

Last week the Italian team unveiled their prototype foiling monohull, shorter than the maximum 38ft permitted under the Protocol for the 36th America's Cup.

At the presentation in Palermo on June 21, Mr Bertelli also announced that the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team would launch their first AC75 on August 25, 2019.

For the full interview in La Stampa click here

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