Pierre Orphanidis of top European sailing website, www.vsail.info, is in San Francisco for the start of the 34th America's Cup Regatta. He filled this report of his tour of Italian Challenger Luna Rossa's base:
Greetings from sunny and warm San Francisco, the venue of the 34th America’s Cup. Our coverage starts today with the media event Luna Rossa held at their base at noon.
Unfortunately, due to my flight’s late arrival I missed the event Luna Rossa’s neighbors, Emirates Team New Zealand, held earlier in the morning where the media were treated to a nice sailing session on the Bay. One hears, without pushing too much, Dean Barker and his crew reached 35 knots of boat speed at some point. Oracle Team USA will hold a similar media presentation on Wednesday.
Luna Rossa’s skipper, Max Sirena, took the dozen or so journalists to a guided tour of some parts of the immense Italian base that looks more like a military compound rather than a base of a sailing team. Gone are the days of fancy, 10-million euro bases in Valencia and the notion of a race village.
In fact, the four teams are dispersed around San Francisco and the bay. The Kiwi and Italian 'friends' are next-door to each other on Pier 32, while Oracle Team are based 5 miles further south on Pier 80 and Artemis are across the bay in Alameda.
Sirena’s tour was brief and didn’t reveal anything extraordinary, other than probably the controls of the second wing, which, unfortunately, were the only thing we were asked not to photograph. We saw the gym where the team’s trainer 'kills' the sailors every morning, with the exception of Sirena because he said he could always find the excuse he had a meeting.
We were then shown the wing shed, where the team’s two wings are stored. According to the rules, each team is allowed to build three of them but the Italians will only have two. As expected, the second one will be used for the Louis Vuitton Cup. According to Sirena, both wings have practically identical shapes but differ in the way they are controlled. The main difference is the added ability of twisting the front part of the main spar. Unfortunately, that was the only thing off-limits for our cameras.
It was clear that the true reason behind the media event was for Luna Rossa to further express their uttermost disagreement with the recent changes in the AC72 rule that Regatta Director Iain Murray imposed. Luna Rossa’s counselor Luis Saenz also held an interview with the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport where he defined Murray’s actions as 'scandalous', 'unacceptable' and 'deplorable'. He informed journalists that shortly after our visit he was also going to file a protest with the international jury. While it might differ in the details with the protest Emirates Team New Zealand filed, in substance they were very similar.
Both Sirena and Saenz insisted that the changed had nothing to do with safety. They were about performance and he was ready to fight against that 'bullshit'. He didn’t answer my question what would happen if their protest were overturned by the Jury but he did raise an interesting question as to why weren’t such changed made after Oracle’s capsize last October. He claimed that the changes were made to fit Oracle’s design as he claims they have been sailing with the new rudders since the launch of their second boat. In fact, in his opinion, Oracle’s second boat would have never been measured as an AC72 if it weren’t for the latest rule changes. Why would anyone, he asked, design and build a boat that didn’t follow the class rules if they didn’t have the intention to later modify those same rules?
For the full story including video click here?nid=111504
by Pierre Orphanidis, www.vsail.info - 10:22 PM Tue 2 Jul 2013 GMT
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