Prada add scorn on America's Cup cats

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:09 25/10/2012
Prada Luna Rossa
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ

NOT IMPRESSED: Prada Luna Rossa boss Patrizio Bertelli (right) and skipper Max Sirena during a press conference in Auckland.

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Italian America’s Cup boss Patrizio Bertelli is the latest to be critical of the giant catamarans being used for next year’s racing in San Francisco.

The president of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 is in Auckland for the launch of their AC72 tomorrow night.

He hosted a media gathering in the city today and joined the growing chorus who have suggested the massive yachts are too big and too expensive.

“Whatever solution makes it more affordable for more challengers to participate ... that is the solution,” Bertelli said.

“Is that smaller cats or very fast lightweight monohulls?”

While Oracle will defend the Cup next September, the challengers are in a race to get their boats up to speed for the Louis Vuitton Series in July.

There are just three challengers with the Italians joining Team New Zealand and Sweden’s Artemis Racing for the right to take on Oracle for the sport’s oldest trophy.

Bertelli revealed Luna Rossa’s budget was $90m.

Moving forward, Bertelli said a starting point should be “how many challengers do we want at the next America’s Cup?”

Eight teams have been contesting the America’s Cup World Series that is sailed in the 45-foot catamarans and has achieved the target of increasing spectator appeal while keeping costs down.

“It could have been a very good idea to use the 45s or something similar. That would have encouraged more teams to enter (the actual America’s Cup)

“We are getting back to the 1930s J Class scenario where there are just two or three challengers. It takes 40 people just to put the (AC72) boat in the water.”

Bertelli suggested the limited numbers were keeping “young people” out of the America’s Cup and that disappointed him.

Bertelli said being one of the challengers allowed him to offer his views.

“It’s always easy to criticise from the outside.”

The high-tech cats have already run in to serious problems. Oracle was demolished in a capsize last week while Artemis’s yacht was damaged while under tow in San Francisco yesterday. It may well come down to survival of the fittest.

For that reason the Italians are delighted by their technology sharing arrangement with team New Zealand.

The Kiwis have already been out on the water successfully – and safely – testing their boat in Auckland and appear to have a jump on the small fleet.

Luna Rossa hope to get on the water by next Wednesday and be in a situation to be able to race and test with the Kiwis by the middle of next month.

“We still have to discover a lot about this boat. It might well turn out to be pretty dangerous,” Bertelli said.

“Our big concern is that if you damage a wingsail  in training, you just stop training. If you had trouble before with a mast or a sail, you replace it – that’s not a problem.

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“The concern is that if you push the boat to the limit you end up doing what Oracle did.”

Luna Rossa will have only the one boat but will build a second wingsail.

Team New Zealand are building a second boat for their challenge.

Bertelli said their partnership with Team New Zealand allowed them to “get things going” otherwise they would have been too late.

“To have two identical boats is mutually beneficial.”

The boats will have different sails and foils which will be compared during testing.

- Fairfax Media

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