With under two years to go until the 36th edition of the America's Cup in Auckland, the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team was presented at the Circolo della Vela Sicilia sailing club in Mondello, Palermo. The club will be the Challenger of Record in the Cup. Dating back to 1934, it is one of the most elegant and prestigious clubs in the Mediterranean, the host of many international regattas, such as the European Championships or the Palermo-Montecarlo offshore race.
Francesco Checco Bruni, born in 1973, with seven world titles and five European titles, feels like its adopted son. He is ready for his fifth America's Cup, and fourth with Luna Rossa. The Palermitan sailor grew up in nearby Lauria, but "in the Circolo della Vela Sicilia - he says - I feel at home. It is a beautiful and enviable facility, which has always been great for sporting activities. I have an excellent relationship with club president Agostino Randazzo. Their moral and formal support for the America's Cup challenge is crucial".
Bruni has been staying in Cagliari to train with the team: "We have just launched our test boat, after starting with a catamaran. I'm happy, it's a very interesting period. It's really helping us prepare the big boat for the America's Cup, of which we have big expectations".
He was talking about the AC75 being developed with the help of Pirelli's engineering skills, and ready to be launched this summer when the other teams will present their boats. Bruni has a clear idea of his opponents: "We're all very much on a level, because our budgets are quite similar, so I expect a great fight. There are no favourites or underdogs. We're all going to New Zealand to win.
Luna Rossa's crew will include internationally experienced sailors, such as Max Sirena (record number of appearances in the America's Cup, two victories with Oracle and Emirates), Vasco Vascotto (25 world titles) and Australian newcomer James Spithill, twice winner of the America's Cup with Oracle, but also by many young people. "Luna Rossa was very good at choosing the guys and especially at introducing them in time, because they need to be smoothly integrated", explains Checco Bruni. They are all exemplary people, right for the team. We, the more experienced, try to help them grow. They have been assigned to different areas and are gaining experience both on board and on land".
As for fears about there being too many strong personalities in the team, the sailor from Palermo does not seem worried, on the contrary: "The sailing team seems like a great group to me. We are preparing very well. There is an excellent cooperative relationship between the whole crew, better than we could have imagined.
As for who will cover the various roles, there are still no final decisions: "We have an initial idea, but we'll have to sail a little on the big boat before deciding." It will be another important step for the 36th America's Cup, which the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team and the Circolo della Vela Sicilia absolutely want to bring back to Italy.