Since the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup, one thing that’s always been clear in the strategy of the Italian team Luna Rossa has been to win against well-known opponent Emirates New Zealand. The two teams were finalists in the previous Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007, and also squared off for the 30th America’s Cup Match in 2000. Each time the Kiwis came out on top, as they did again last week when they won the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup, 7-1.
Despite the big improvements made by the Prada-sponsored team that pushed the performance of the boat to the limit, it is now New Zealand that is set to compete against Defender Oracle at the upcoming 34th America's Cup in September in the San Francisco Bay.
At the end of the race, leaders of Luna Rossa showed their good sportsmanship through the words of helmsman Chirs Draper, skipper Max Sirena and tactician Francesco Bruni, long time members of the crew and most representative of the Italian team.
“We’re not happy today because we lost the Louis Vuitton Cup, but we lost to probably–I don’t want to wish them bad luck–one of the best teams on the water,” Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena said, motioning towards the Kiwi crew. “We have a long history with our teams and it was a pleasure to race them in the final. It’s the first time two challengers have worked so closely together to win the Cup; best of luck to them in the Match.”
After the race Sirena said that the team would return for the 35th America’s Cup, whenever and wherever it is held. Sirena is emblematic of the team’s legacy, having started as a mid-bowman with the 2000 team, and working his way to skipper for this team.
“It’s been an honor for me to be head of this team,” said Sirena. “In one and a half years we’ve put together a strong team. I want to thank Patrizio Bertelli for giving us this opportunity,” Sirena said of Bertelli, the syndicate head. “I want to thank our Italian and Kiwi supporters, and all the fans of the team. Thanks to everyone–the wives, the parents and the rest of the team. Without them it’s going to be pretty empty hearted.
“We started this team late and the main goal for us was to do well in this Louis Vuitton Cup. We are proud of what we achieved. No one was putting us in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final one and a half years ago. I’m proud of all the work done by the team. I said to the guys just before the finish that today starts the new challenge for the next America’s Cup. We’re going to be stronger next time.”
Before the last race, Luna Rossa tactician Francesco Bruni told L'Italo-Americano that there were few possibilities for them to continue the series, but that they would sail strong until the end because the surprise is always around the corner.
“There is a difference in performance upwind between the two boats, but downwind we were more competitive and improved a lot from the first races of the Round Robin. In sport you have to give everything until the last moment. We reached twice a top speed of 45 knots for the first time in race 7 of the final. That, only few months ago, was unbelievable.
“They showed really great speed and were solid all around the course, but I think we sailed good races with the boat we have, probably 98% of the potential of the boat. We knew we were fighting a really strong team.”
Thanks to the strong winds of the San Francisco Bay, Team Emirates New Zealand set a new Louis Vuitton Cup speed record of 47.18 knots at Mark 3, the windward gate, during race 7.
“It hurts bad to lose 7-1,” said young helmsman Chris Draper. “It’s an emotional moment. We’re very sad but still very proud of what we’ve achieved in the past two months. We’ve improved so much as a team. It hurts a lot today. It would’ve been nice to finish with a proper ding dong, but we’ll keep our chins up and walk away proud.”
Luna Rossa bows out of the competition with its head held high. The Italian team has been a regular participant in the America’s Cup since 2000 and has been a popular champion through the years, spreading America’s Cup fever throughout the nation and its fans.