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Luna Rossa - a dream was born

The journey of Italy’s silver bullet that is shaking up the 2021 America’s Cup.


by Alessandra Puglisi


Courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker via Creative Commons.



Bringing a dream to life is not easy. And yet it is what happened in 1997 when Patrizio Bertelli, Prada’s Group Chief Executive Officer, and German Frers, an Argentinian yacht designer, joined forces to create the Luna Rossa sailing team.


The team was immediately launched to participate in the 30th edition of the America’s Cup. However, in order to access the actual America’s Cup, Luna Rossa had to compete in the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup, a competition held to determine who is going to be the final challenger for the defending champions of the America’s Cup. Luna Rossa won the Louis Vuitton Cup, beating AmericaOne team 8-7, and went on to race the defending champions at the time, Emirates Team New Zealand, losing to them 5-0.


In 2003, Bertelli decided to try his luck in the hope of challenging New Zealand once again and brought two new boats on the water, ITA 74 and ITA 80. The Luna Rossa team, however, didn’t perform well and was stopped at the semifinals of the Louis Vuitton Cup by Swiss team Alinghi, which then went on and won the 31st edition of America’s Cup against the defender kiwi team.


In 2007, Luna Rossa was the first team to set up its base in Valencia for the 32nd America’s Cup. It was the first time since the initial edition of the trophy in 1851 that the sailing competition was held in Europe. Luna Rossa reached the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup with ITA 94 but had to surrender yet again to team New Zealand with a deafening 5-0. In the final stages of the Cup, the Swiss Alinghi team was able to hold the fort against New Zealand and successfully defended the trophy for the second time. The America’s Cup remained in Europe.


In 2012, for the first time in Italy’s history, Luna Rossa entered the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, but the sailing team will have to wait until the 34th edition of the trophy in 2013 in San Francisco to make a comeback. Tragedy hit the Swedish team Artemis Racing during the initial round robins of the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, when their main boat capsized in strong winds and crew member Andrew Simpson died. As a result, Artemis Racing forfeited the remaining round robins, re-joining the races only in the semifinals against Luna Rossa. Luna Rossa easily beat the Swedish team 4-0 and reached the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup for the third time, but suffered a familiar loss against the New Zealand team 7-1. The dream of competing for the actual America’s Cup shattered once again.


After following a change to the Class Rule that concerned the length of the catamarans, Luna Rossa protested and pulled out of the 2017 America’s Cup. Patrizio Bertelli, however, still dreamt of competing for the trophy and became the Challenger of Record (a title assigned to the first country that issues the challenge against the defending champions) for the 2021 America’s Cup, after team New Zealand secured a victory against Oracle Team USA for 7-1 in the previous 2017 Cup.


The 36th edition of the America’s Cup, taking place in the Hauraki Gulf off the coast of Auckland, is the current edition of the race between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa. Between January and February 2021, Luna Rossa participated in the Prada Cup (formerly known as the Louis Vuitton Cup) in Auckland, in order to gain the rights to challenge the defender of the trophy New Zealand. The Italian team won the Prada Cup, defeating American Magic in the semi-finals 4-0 and British Ineos Team UK in the finals 7-1. The final stages of the America’s Cup itself are set to be a best-of-13-race series which started on March 10th, with two regattas per day, and will finish on March 17th. The Italians have sailed the most races during this edition of the America’s Cup and have been improving their performance at every given occasion while New Zealand, being the defending champions, have been able to sit back and observe their potential contenders.


After the fourth regatta, the teams are tied 2-2, and while there is still much talk about kiwi’s Te Rehutai being the fastest boat, Luna Rossa has surprised everyone by winning two races, something that has never happened before in the finals stages of the Cup. Co-helmsman of Luna Rossa, Francesco Bruni, said “There was a lot of talk about Team New Zealand being five, eight, 10 knots faster. That was clearly not the case,” adding “We're glad that we can just race and try to win this.”


Will the Italian team be able to finally crown the dream and win the America’s Cup trophy for the first time in history?



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