race

Pirelli sets sail
in the America’s Cup

In the next edition of the America’s Cup Luna Rossa will be partnered by Pirelli, enabling the excitement to compete in the world’s oldest and most captivating sea challenge

Home race Pirelli sets sail
in the America’s Cup
Pirelli sets sail
in the America’s Cup

Sailing enthusiasts around the world are already looking forward to the next America’s Cup, to be held in New Zealand. And although there are still three years to go before the 36th edition, the oldest sports trophy in history is already a big talking point. In 2021 Luna Rossa, the Italian boat that has fired the imaginations of fans for four consecutive editions, will also be partnered by Pirelli. Together with the long-standing sponsor, Prada, it will be contributing its half-century of worldwide experience at the highest levels in high-technology sport.

«The America's Cup embodies values and appeals to an audience of enthusiasts that perfectly match those of Pirelli, enabling the company to keep cultivating the brand and strengthening its high-technology positioning among customers all over the world», comments Marco Tronchetti Provera, the company's Executive Vice Chairman and CEO. «We’ve chosen to take part in this project because it’s a sporting and technological challenge that can project Italy and the Pirelli brand worldwide».

And in 2021 technology itself will be the key factor in this competition, particularly for Luna Rossa, which has earned the status of Challenger of Record - in other words the first challenger to the reigning champions: Emirates Team New Zealand. This 36th edition marks a point of departure with respect to the two previous events and will call for a special effort in terms of planning and boat design.

Pirelli sets sail in the America’s Cup 01

Photo Credit by Carlo Borlenghi

«After the 2013 and 2017 trophies there’s an important novelty: a return to monohull boats», explains Max Sirena, skipper and team manager of Luna Rossa. Compared to the catamarans seen in the last edition «this might appear to be a step backwards, but it will be a radically different monohull to the traditional type while maintaining the same performance as the most recent multihulls». In the same vein, continues Sirena, «we’ll no longer be using a rigid wingsail, which created a number of logistical problems. We’ll have a mainsail constructed in highly specialised fabrics that can be hoisted, unlike the previous one».

At this rate many people will be wondering whether by 2021 we’ll still see the boats fly rather than slide across the water. Don’t worry, the answer is yes. Without the multihull and the wingsail it will be the foils (the fins that enable boats to rise and glide over the water) taking over the fundamental role in achieving victory. «Foil and keel control systems are currently the subject of a great deal of in-depth research, with the involvement of experts not only in boat design but also in aeronautics and spacecraft», adds Sirena.

Pirelli sets sail in the America’s Cup 02

Photo Credit by Carlo Borlenghi

«The America’s Cup has many similarities to Formula 1. As well as the crew, the technicians perform a key role. At these levels it’s taken for granted that the sailors are the most expert in the world and the difference lies in engineering and the boat’s performance: fundamentally it’s always been the fastest craft that has won» It is no coincidence that the sailors themselves are also required to be good ‘test pilots’: they have to give the designers feedback to help them achieve maximum speed. But physical preparation is also increasingly important, given the performance attained by these boats that only a few years ago would have seemed incredible. «Courses in holding the breath and training under stress are needed. We’ve even changed the clothing: no longer T-shirts and shorts but also protective kit». 

And what about the team chosen by Luna Rossa for 2021? Well for a start, «it’s 99% Italian», says Max Sirena. «The only foreigner is James Spithill, the America’s Cup veteran who, like a good sailor, is learning Italian to be able to communicate with his team properly». A strongly Italian stamp, therefore, but chosen not through national pride or a wish to exclude others. «Our aim, rather as in the case of Ferrari Corse, is to develop our young people and create expertise that stays at home and can lay the foundations for future success in this sport: this is why we want to set a course firmly rooted in Italy», argues Sirena. 

Pirelli sets sail in the America’s Cup 03

Photo Credit by Carlo Borlenghi

And another point not to be overlooked is that the challenge is 100% Italian also in terms of sponsors.  «Being able to take Pirelli on board as a partner, together with Prada, is of key importance: it gives us great strength not only financially and technologically but also in terms of image. Considering its commitment to the competition, it will also definitely give us a big hand in development», says Sirena. In what contexts? «Don’t ask me too many questions… it would be tantamount to tipping off our competitors, and this year Luna Rossa is going for victory!». Good luck, Luna Rossa.

Read more
Related Stories
Product info
Pirelli cutting edge technology at its best
Discover the new P Zero
Find & Buy
Select the product that fits for you
Find the best Tyre for your car
race