Wednesday, November 2, 2011
PRADA'S ENTRY UPS ANTE FOR 34TH AMERICA'S CUP
In a media call today, America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray and CEO Craig Thompson commented on the exciting confirmation that indeed, long time Cup favorite Prada/Luna Rossa is back, this time collaborating on boats and such with Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ).
Said Murray: “For those with a keen eye who spotted Luna Rossa in and out of the ETNZ team base in Plymouth have been adding two and two to get four, the answer is obvious today and presents a very strong group of people who I think will have enhanced chances in the America’s Cup going forward. It seems like a positive, strong move for the America’s Cup.
Luna Rossa will take delivery of their AC45 in early December subject to branding and hull painting etc. The destination of it is unknown at this stage and where they’ll actually sail it the first time. They will be competing in events for 2012 and sure, they won’t be scored for the AC World Series round 1 which concludes in Newport, RI, next June but I don’t think that’s their highest priority. I think they’re keen to get their boat and get out there and start to learn about sailing wing-sailed catamarans."
Murray also confirmed that there’s no limits on where Prada can take its AC45 to train, however the team'll be seriously considering where it’ll get the best bang for buck, “Probably the biggest thing with taking an AC45 for any AC team anywhere is generally in most countries you will incur taxes. NZ presents an opportunity for them but there’s taxes to pay when you go to train for certain periods of time which is a discussion Luna Rossa will have to have with the various authorities of that country. Other than the taxes, they can go wherever they like until the first event.”
Thompson added that today’s news from Italy may not be the last with regards to more teams joining.
“Today we have another major competitor coming into the competition and this has got to be good. I hope it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Oracle and that they’re going to have to make some response to this. It’ll be really interesting to see what happens when Luna Rossa gets on the water. From a story telling and competitive aspect, it’s great for the Cup. And, we are still in discussion with some very serious parties who are still trying to come in.”
While on the subject of new teams entering and timing, there’s still a big void in events between San Diego (November 12-20, 2011) and Napoli (April 7-15, 2012), which AC has yet to resolve.
Said Thompson, “We are in discussions for still having an event in late Jan early Feb but honestly it looks doubtful right now before Napoli in April. We are disappointed about this because we will take a hit to frequency/regularity. The good news is that we’re going through the winter months where it’s a downtime for sailing but nevertheless we would have liked to have an event during that time. We’re still hoping something may materialize. We do need to figure out what the teams will be doing during this time.
Hmmm - I think the winter months are a great time in the Southern Hemisphere for sailing, and discussions have in fact been going on in Australia and New Zealand as possible World Series venues, according to Murray.
“The discussions with Australia have broken off with both sides agreeing that what we were trying to achieve wasn’t attainable. New Zealand has been in discussion for some time and there are further discussions going on. Whether today’s news adds some enthusiasm to those discussions, we’ll wait and see."
Either way, teams will have access to their boats for training, Murray confirmed. “We will designate a place that we will deliver the boats to. It’s our responsibility to take them out of America and if we are going directly to Naples we will probably make arrangements to take the boats directly there. If the teams wish to make alternative arrangements they will be allowed to do so as long as they’re brought back to Naples,” he said.
BTW, the protocol lays out different times for the event schedule relative to where the AC is at now because it was envisaged a series in 2011 and a series in 2012 and it was considered that the boats would be going to the 72s in the second season. But the protocol did say there would be a minimum of three regattas in the first series and five in the second.
There is no written deadline by which teams may be denied entry to AC34, just obviously a practical deadline with the requirement to have a 72 and a valid challenge, said Murray. Teams must have an AC72 by July 4, beginning of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Murray reviewed the estimated build time for an AC72 which involves multi-element construction. He figures that with a breakdown of all of those components, the boats could be built quite quickly, probably not in less than six months but eight months would be about right. In the case of Prada, Murray said that he read today that they planned to build their center sections and structural pieces in New Zealand and other components in Italy.
“It’s obviously probably more efficient. Oracle is doing a similar thing I would suggest.”
* Prada announcement: http://media.americascup.com/pressreleases/?id=393