Patrizio Bertelli confirms double bid for the America's Cup


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The Independent Online

A campaign to restore the pride of Italy was promised by the Prada luxury goods company boss Patrizio Bertelli as he confirmed in Sicily a double bid for the America’s Cup.

The three-time challenger and enthusiastic sailor has already announced that he plans to plough €40m into competing at the next Cup, the 34th defence, in San Francisco next summer.

Time is short to build and trial the new 72-foot wing-powered catamaran selected for the next event.

His Luna Rossa team will build only one new boat, already under construction at the Persico yard in Bergamo, between Milan and Lake Garda. It will be launched and tested in New Zealand this autumn but “we’ll certainly challenge again for the Cup after this; this is a two-Cup campaign we have in mind,” said Bertelli.

Sitting with him on the stage at the sponsoring Circolo della Vela Siciliana were the two chosen helmsmen who will also drive the 45-foot versions of the catamarans in Naples next week, Paul Campbell-James and Olympic bronze medallist Chris Draper. Three more Britons, David Carr, Nick Hutton, and Alister Richardson are on a crew skippered by Max Sirena.

The Luna Rossa team is working closely with Team New Zealand, but the defender, the San Francisco-based Oracle, is also expected to trial its new boat in the home country of its chief executive, Russell Coutts, on the Whangaparaoa Peninsular north of Auckland. The fourth declared team, and challenger of record, Sweden’s Artemis, currently training in Valencia, may also use some of its allocated 30 training days down under.

In the Pacific, the Abu Dhabi entry in the Volvo round the world race, skippered by British Olympian Ian Walker, has finally bowed to the inevitable and announced that it will pull out of leg five from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil, after having to do makeshift repairs to the hull.

The boat will be shipped round Cape Horn to Itajai, the team hopes, for further repair and the start of leg six to Miami. Walker also had to pull out of leg one from Alicante to Cape Town after being dismasted less than six hours into the race and had to turn back to Auckland for repairs soon after the start of the current leg.

Still hoping to make it in time is the Spanish entry Camper, undergoing repairs in Puerto Montt, 1,000 kilometres south of Santiago, Chile.

Neck and neck going north up the Atlantic, are the French entry Groupama and the U.S.-flagged Puma, two miles apart after nearly 18 days at sea. And continuing to threaten after stopping for repairs near Cape Horn is the other Spanish entry and overall race leader Telefonicá.

Skippered by Iker Martinez, navigator Andrew Cape had pulled back to less than 50 miles behind the leader with 650 miles to the finish. All three are expected to arrive by Friday.