Italy launches Luna Rossa America’s Cup challenger

The Luna Rossa, Italy’s challenger for sailing’s most prestigious prize, was christened in Cagliari on the Isle of Sardinia. The Circolo della Vela Sicilia yacht club is the third to launch, joining Emirates Team New Zealand and the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic.

AC75 Luna Rossa Launch

After Monsignor Arrigo Miglio, the archbishop of Cagliari, blessed the boat and sprinkled it with holy water, fashion scion Miuccia Prada smashed a bottle of Ferrari Maximum Blanc de Blancs over the ship’s bow, setting off a cacophony of horns and cheering.

“Always launching a new boat, it is exciting,” Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera said. “It’s the beginning of a new adventure in race, a new era in sailing.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte visited with the crew and team members at the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli headquarters.

The Italian team, which helped fund the winning New Zealand team in 2017, pushed for a return to monohulls for the 2021 America’s Cup, to be held in Auckland. Along with the Kiwis, they came up with a 75-foot foiling monohull. The foiling technology shared by the AC75 yachts allows them to sail at more than 50 knots (57 mph, 92 kph) with the hull out of the water, riding on foils.

“These new boats, our emotions are excitement,” Provera said in a telephone interview. “Shapes, lines, foils _ everything makes it quite unique. I think these new boats will design a new era in the America’s Cup. It will start a new story.”

The Luna Rossa sports a sleek black hull, with a red stripe for sponsor Prada and a tricolor Italian flag. The 500 kg (1,100 pound) carbon fiber foil arms that figure to be visible out of the water when the racing is at its most intense are painted yellow and red for Pirelli, which is better known in the sporting world as the lone tire manufacturer for Formula One race cars.

“We can’t wait to get acquainted with the AC75,” said Max Sirena, skipper and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team director. “(The) boat will sail almost entirely in foiling mode: The hull will barely touch the water, allowing us to reach very high speeds.”

New Zealand last month launched the first of two boats it will use to defend the Cup against challengers from the United States, Britain and Italy on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbor in March 2021. The U.S. entry followed, and the British are expected to follow this week.

AC75 Luna Rossa Launch
AC75 Luna Rossa Launch

After testing by the teams, the boats will compete in the America’s Cup World Series in Cagliari from April 23-26, and then race for the new Prada Cup and the right to challenge Team New Zealand for the world’s oldest trophy.

“Let’s keep the fingers crossed. It’s a long way to go. We will see in Auckland,” Provera said. “We have to see the boats in the water. Until next spring, no one can say anything. We have to see the boats, one against the other. It can change dramatically in competition against other teams.”