Skip to content

Luna Rossa Wants AC Wind Limits

In a press conference in Alameda Friday, Patrizio Bertelli, president of the Luna Rossa Challenge America’s Cup syndicate, made it abundantly clear that he has serious concerns about the safety of AC72 racing in this summer’s America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton challenger series. However, his team is not pulling out. 

Smokin’! By the absence of whitecaps in this photo, taken Saturday, it’s obvious that the Italian challenger’s AC72 does not need much wind to hydrofoil successfully.

© Carlo Berlinghi / Luna Rossa Challenge

Referring to the May 9 breakup of the Artemis cat dubbed ‘Big Red’, which took the life of crewman Bart Simpson, Bertelli said, "The America’s Cup has always had ups and downs, but this is much more serious." Although the AC72 class was supposedly designed to sail in as much as 30 knots of true wind, Bertelli insists, "We want to have wind limits." He seeks an agreement by all teams that they would not race if wind strength was higher than a specified velocity — probably around 25 knots.

But limits would seem to compromise a fundamental goal of Larry Ellison’s AC34 vision. The America’s Cup Event Authority CEO Stephan Barclay was forthright in an article last week in Bloomberg Businessweek about how the current format evolved: "In recent years, we’ve wanted to put the Cup on a sounder financial footing and make it accessible to people other than the very, very wealthy." One step in fulfilling that goal was placing the race venue right next to the San Francisco Cityfront where any and all could observe the races. Another step — and perhaps the most important one — was negotiating extensive television coverage, and facilitating the development of the LiveLine computer graphics that will help both sailors and non-sailors understand who is ahead, where the wind’s coming from, where the course boundaries are, and much more.

"For the sake of television," continued Barclay, "the races had to start on time. You can’t have this huge buildup to a race and then have the television saying, ‘delayed due to lack of wind,’ which is a huge problem in sailing.

"The answer to these issues was to use a catamaran instead of the monohull boats we’ve traditionally used in the Cup. Catamarans are very fast, can sail in very light or strong winds, and get so close to the shore that fans can hear the sailors talking."

But Luna Rossa’s Bertelli made his priorities clear: "We are not here to produce a (TV) show," he said flatly. When asked how wind limits might affect TV scheduling, he said, "You should direct your questions to Mr. Ellison."

Also notable is that Luna Rossa chose to ignore the suggestion by the America’s Cup Review Committee (empaneled to scrutinize Big Red’s breakup), that all teams should observe a moratorium on sailing until late next week. The Italian team’s one and only AC72 was seen foiling across the Bay Saturday in moderate winds — and she was certainly lookin’ good. 

Leave a Comment

This is a photo in desperate need of a caption. The best one (chosen by Latitude 38 editors) will win a Latitude hat in honor of the photo!