By  on December 11, 2008

MILAN — Giving up the America’s Cup race may prove harder for Patrizio Bertelli than expected.

A Prada spokesman said the company has deposited its application to enter the next America’s Cup with its sailboat Luna Rossa, although he stressed it isn’t a binding enrollment. “The deadline for the registration is Dec. 15, but this does not necessarily mean we will compete,” said the spokesman. “We do not want to miss the deadline, but the situation is very confused and we still need to elaborate our plans for Luna Rossa and evaluate whether we will compete or not.”

It is unclear where or when the next Cup series will be held, as there is a legal dispute between the Oracle and Alinghi teams. In the meantime, Luna Rossa will participate in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series race, which will be held in Auckland, New Zealand, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14 next year.

The spokesman also said former partner and sponsor Telecom Italia has exited the Luna Rossa venture, which was a deal inked in 2004.

After an investment over the last decade totalling more than $80 million, Prada said last year it was not going to compete in the next edition of the America’s Cup.

Bertelli first entered the famed yacht race in 1997 with the Luna Rossa, going on to compete in three more editions — in 2000, 2002 and 2007. Although the Luna Rossa never brought home the cup, the investments have paid off in terms of visibility and retail sales, with Luna Rossa-branded accessories and apparel collections, featuring high-tech fabrics tested by the sailing team.

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