November 2, 2011

Luna Rossa Jumps Back Into the Cup

Confirming a rumor that had been floating around for a week or so, the Luna Rossa sailing team has been announced as a challenger for the 34th America’s Cup. Challenging under the burgee of the Circolo della Vela Sicilia of Palermo, Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 has been accepted by the Golden Gate YC. This is an extremely exciting development in a Cup that was looking to be a little short on quality teams. You might remember that this team managed to get to the Cup final in 2000 on its first try, and challenged subsequently in ’03 and ’07. Headed by the Italian fashion house Prada’s Patrizio Bertelli, the team has been sailing TP 52s and an STP 65 for the last few years to stay sharp.

Russell Coutts’ vision for the 34th America’s Cup has relied in large part on exclusivity as a draw for potential event sponsors. It would seem that having the head of Prada onboard will help immensely in what so far appears to have proven itself a hard sell.

© 2011 Carrie Bradshaw

But due to their late entry, the team will be buying an off-the-shelf design. Interestingly enough, they will not be going with the Oracle Racing standard design package, but rather with Emirates Team New Zealand for design and build work on an AC 72. It’s been rumored for awhile that Grant Dalton’s team had the funding to build two AC 72s, but not sail both of them, and it would appear that Bertelli and Luna Rossa view the ETNZ package as the better choice. To that end, Luna Rossa and ETNZ have signed a cooperation agreement until December 31, ’12 which includes full access to all ETNZ design and performance data.

"I am certain that the co-operation of Luna Rossa with Emirates Team New Zealand will produce excellent results, giving to both teams a faster and more effective development, both in the technical and the sporting fields," Bertelli said. "The choice of the Circolo della Vela Sicilia as challenging yacht club is also significant. I think it is important, in a moment like this, to underline the unity of our country also in the field of culture and sports."

The hulls for the Luna Rossa AC72 will be built in Italy and all other elements will be built in New Zealand in close cooperation with ETNZ. Luna Rossa’s plan for next year includes opening a base in Auckland for joint training with ETNZ and sailing in all the AC World Series events. Beginning in March ’13, the team will continue its preparation in San Francisco. But other than getting more funding to pursue design concepts, what else is in it for ETNZ?

"The cooperation with Luna Rossa is another step towards the long-term objective of establishing our team as a provider of technology and services that highlight New Zealand’s marine industry expertise," Dalton said. "We look forward to sharing our design office resources and cooperating with two such well-respected names in top-level sailing."

Non-Update from the Ha-Ha

The crew of Profligate, the mothership of the Baja Ha-Ha, are obviously having a terrific and care-free time during the ‘Barely Legal’ version of the 750-mile rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Here was this editor, patiently awaiting a status update from Assistant Poobah ‘Banjo Andy’ Turpin, when we heard through the office grapevine that he’d spoken to Subscriptions & Classy Classifieds Coordinator/Photo Goddess Annie Bates-Winship just a moment before. "They just started the final leg to Cabo early this morning," Annie reported, "and all he was worried about was whether the November magazines would be there when they arrived." Andy did mention that the fleet had been experiencing light winds for most of the trip and that there’d been no major breakages or emergencies. Guess this really is a case of ‘no news is good news’. Be sure to check out Friday’s ‘Lectronic as we expect a full update replete with photos.

Quantum Leap’s Final Chapter

Last month, we reported on the abandonment of Quantum Leap after her captain, delivery skipper Phillip Johnson, was severely injured. Later, we posted video of Johnson and his two crewmembers being rescued by the cruise ship Celebrity Century, which had diverted to effect the rescue. Now comes the final chapter in the 48-ft boat’s sad story.

Quantum Leap came ashore on Maui last week, sailing 700 miles with no one aboard.

Bill Finkelstein
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Last Thursday, the aluminum boat washed ashore at Baby Beach off Spreckelsville on Maui two weeks after she was abandoned. The main was shredded but the boat itself was intact. Johnson and his crew reported having a number of problems with the equipment onboard the boat before leaving her, but it wasn’t enough to keep her from finishing her final voyage. The Coast Guard and the Department of Land and Natural Resources are working together to remove the boat and determine who should pay for the clean-up.

An interesting side-note in the story is that Bill Finkelstein and Mary Mack, who were aboard the Celebrity Century during the resuce, later gave a talk about bluewater cruising to interested passengers. "It was a lively session," recalls Bill. "We talked about cruising and answered questions about the rescue. The cruise director said he would consider it a huge success if we got 30, but the room was almost full with 70 people!"

Unfortunately, a handful of irate passengers apparently caused the rescuees to be restricted to their cabins for the remainder of the voyage. "Out of the 2,000 folks onboard, a very few were vocal that we should not have diverted to pick them up and miss Maui as a result," says Bill. "Some out of ignorance — which we could address — some out of pure selfishness, most just pure jerks."

Crime reporting isn’t typically Latitude‘s purview, but since the Baja Ha-Ha fleet is on their way to Cabo San Lucas, we wanted to ensure that readers and the families of Ha-Ha’ers had the actual facts — not hyped-up sensational stories — of this weekend’s incidents in the normally tranquil town.
Earlier this year, we told you of an effort by the Moore 24 community to assist the surviving family members of one the class’s most ardent supporters and multiple-time former class president Joel Verutti, who died of brain cancer last year.