MILAN — Patrizio Bertelli is back on the high seas.
Luna Rossa will once again take part in the America’s Cup, the Prada-sponsored team and the yacht club Circolo della Vela Sicilia of Palermo said Wednesday. Their Notice of Challenge for the 34th America’s Cup, which will be held in San Francisco in September 2013, has been accepted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 and Emirates Team New Zealand have signed a cooperation agreement until Dec. 31, 2012, to prepare for the race. This includes full access to all ETNZ design and performance data for this period. The hulls for the Luna Rossa AC72’ will be built in Italy and all other elements will be built in New Zealand. Emirates Team New Zealand is the current holder of the Louis Vuitton Cup and is leading the America’s Cup World Series. Established in 1985 as the New Zealand Challenge, Emirates Team New Zealand has won both the America’s Cup twice and the Louis Vuitton Cup twice.
“I am certain that the co-operation of Luna Rossa with Emirates Team New Zealand will produce excellent results, giving to both teams a faster and more effective development both in the technical and in the sporting fields,” stated Bertelli, team principal of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013, and chief executive officer of Prada SpA. “The choice of the Circolo della Vela Sicilia as challenging yacht club is also significant: I think it is important, in a moment like this, to underline the unity of our country also in the field of culture and sports.” The Circolo della Vela Sicilia, founded in 1933, is one of the oldest and most prestigious yacht clubs of the Mediterranean.
Next year, Luna Rossa will open a base in Auckland, New Zealand, for joint training, and participate in all events of the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) with the AC 45’ wing catamarans. It will also launch the AC 72’ wing catamaran for the America’s Cup. Starting in March 2013, Team Luna Rossa will continue its preparation and technical development of the AC 72’ in San Francisco.
Last month, Prada SpA filed a voluntary notice at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, where it has been publicly traded since June, on the pending sponsorship of the Luna Rossa yacht for the America’s Cup.
The total cost of sponsoring the yacht would amount to about 40 million euros, or $55.1 million at current exchange rates, which the company said would be paid in installments between this December and September 2013.
This is a return to sea for Luna Rossa, whose team was established in 1997 by Bertelli, an avid sailor, with the original name of “Prada Challenge for the America’s Cup 2000.” The team won the Louis Vuitton Cup — the challengers’ selection series — in 2000, with a record of 38 victories over 49 races. It also competed in 2003 and in 2007, when it reached the Louis Vuitton Cup final.
Prada spent about $50 million on the first losing effort and invested $38.3 million of the estimated $90 million needed for the second race series, with the remainder coming from the Prada family’s company Maestrale Holding Srl. In 2007, after an investment over a decade totaling more than $80 million, Prada said it was not going to compete in the next edition of the famed yacht race, held in Valencia, Spain, in 2009.
Luna Rossa is currently participating in the Extreme Sailing Series, the Extreme 40’ catamarans circuit, where it is leading the overall standings.
Although the sleek silver and red yacht never brought home the cup, the investments have helped boost the brand’s visibility and retail sales, with Luna Rossa-branded accessories and apparel collections, featuring high-tech fabrics tested by the sailing team.