America’s Cup, it’s getting serious: AC 40s ready to compete in Vilanova

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America's Cup Vilanova
AC 40s in training in Barcelona in preparation for Preliminary Regattas

Dwhere were we? We parted ways on March 17, 2021, with that 46-second lead in race 10 with which Team New Zealand closed the file Luna Rossa with the concluding 7-3. It was the best result by an Italian team in an America’s Cup final, since previously only Moro di Venezia, in 1992 against America Cube, had successfully brought home a race during the AC match.

A result that left some bitterness in the mouth because, net of a performance by the Italian crew of great level throughout the last edition, the boat, as in the 2000 final and in the 2007 challenger final (Two 5-0 in favor of the Kiwis), turned out to be inferior to the New Zealanders.

America’s Cup – it’s back to the Preliminary Regattas

The calendar of the America’s Cup 2023-2024

That’s why Luna Rossa is trying again in this 37th edition of the America’s Cup, which is about to start with preliminary races in Vilanova, Catalonia, from Friday, Sept. 15. For the first races, Luna Rossa’s summonses are Francesco Bruni, James Spithill, Marco Gradoni, Ruggero Tita, Andrea Tesei, Umberto Molineris and Vittorio Bissaro. Only four crew members, two helmsmen and two trimmers, go on AC 40s.

This is Patrizio Bertelli’s sixth challenge (seventh considering his 2017 retirement), and along with Luna Rossa there will be four other challengers aiming to oust the New Zealanders: American Magic, Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Ineos Britannia, Orient Express Team France. An edition that will therefore have two more challengers than last year and that sees the Kiwis defending the Old Pitcher away from home waters for the first time.

America’s Cup 2023-2024 skippers at the opening press conference of the Vilanova Preliminary Regattas: from left Peter Burling (Team New Zealand), Ben Ainslie (Ineos Britannia), Arnaud Psarofaghis (Alinghi Red Bull Racing), Francesco Bruni (Luna Rossa), Tom Slingsby (American Magic), Quentin Delapierre (Orient Express Racing Team).

There are several new features in this Cup number 37, the second to be held in Spain after 2007 in Valencia, starting with the boats. The official ones for challenger selection and the finals are the AC 75s already seen in action in last year’s edition (but the new generation of 75s will arrive n.d.r.), with the one-design AC 40 instead taking center stage in the first two preliminary races, and then in the Youth and Women America’s Cup.

Vilanova’s preliminary races will be broadcast, starting Sept. 15 at 3:30 p.m., free-to-air by Mediaset on channel 20, web streaming on the America’s Cup YouTube channel, and will also be available to Sky subscribers.

They do not count toward the official America’s Cup, but they will be very important to begin to see the chemistry within the crews and also how well they hold up under pressure in real racing. It will be run in both fleet and classic match racing.

The Cup Journal returns

With the first official races, the most-watched web format of the last edition of the America’s Cup, The Cup Newspaper, also returns to comment on everything that happened at Vilanova and uncover the secrets of the various teams. The appointment is for Monday, 18 at 6 p.m., live on the Sailing Newspaper Youtube channel.

Under the conduction of our Mauro Giuffrè , and with the participation of the Deputy Editor of the Journal of Sailing Eugenio Ruocco, the first guests of our talk will be: Francis Bertone from the DryLaps Team, tactician of Ker 46 Lisa R and European Waszp 2022 Champion; Lamberto Cesari, sailor and racer with extensive experience among Formula 18 (on Vittorio Bissaro’s bow), Class A and more; Luca Bassani, modern boating guru, visionary founder of the Wally brand, sailor and racer.

 

The boats of the new America’s Cup

The AC 75 Te Rehutai with which Team New Zealand won the last America’s Cup.

The AC 75s, just over 20 meters long, are the official America’s Cup boat class, introduced starting with the 2021 edition in Auckland. Great anticipation for the next generation, which promises peak performance well in excess of 50 knots.

 

 

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team in training with the AC 40 in Barcelona.

The AC 40s, 11-meter hulls, on the other hand, are a new one-design class, boats all the same, introduced in this edition for the Preliminary Regattas and the Youth and Women America’s Cup. The 40s are only modifiable in training; in official regattas they will have to be in strictly One Design mode. The AC 75s will be used only in match racing, the 40s also in fleet racing under the event format.

The Teams

Team New Zealand

The Kiwis are restarting from the hard core of the winning generation of 30-year-olds-Peter Burling (class of 1991), Blair Tuke (1990), Josh Junior (1990), Andy Maloney (1991)-who is joined as another experienced helmsman Nathan Outteridge. If a very fast “rabbit” comes out of the design team one more time, they will be the favorites to win the America’s Cup again.

OE Team France

Last minute enrollment for the union led by Stephan Kandler and Bruno Dubois. On the water, however, the skipper will be Quentin De Lapierre, former helmsman of Team France at SailGp. Also part of the team, as performance manager, is star Franck Cammas. The French apparently bought a “platform” of the AC 75 project from the Kiwis, given the short time frame.

Ineos Britannia

The British team’s deficit in the last two America’s Cup campaigns, Bermuda and Auckland, has always been from a design point of view, with means that have proved to be not up to the mark. If they solve this problem the sailing team is first rate and always revolves around Ben Ainslie, with Giles Scott and Dylan Fletcher among the technical, and experienced, leaders of the crew.

American Magic

There is no more Dean Barker, and Therry Hutchinson will have more of a manager’s role than a sailor’s role. The important new entry is that of Tom Slingsby, who boasts down an America’s Cup won with Oracle and several Sail Gp successes, as well as Olympic successes. The other undisputed leader of the crew will give Paul Goodison, already aboard in the last edition, and sure to be one of the helmsmen.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing

The Swiss are the most indecipherable crew, possible outsiders of the Cup. The skipper will be Arnaud Psarofaghis, longtime man inside Alinghi, Moth specialist. The age figure stands out; the overall average age of the crew is around 30, among the youngest. Also bolstering the Swiss ranks is Italian Pietro Sibello, formerly of Luna Rossa, in the role of coach.

RED MOON.

The Italian team has added new pawns (Tita, Bissaro, Gradoni, Camboni) to the sailing team but the real leap forward to try to push beyond the 2021 result will have to be made in terms of boat design. Horacio Carabelli is the Design Coordinator; it will be up to him to bring out the best in a design department that no longer has Fisher and Caponnetto but a few more young people.

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