Enjoy your AC 72's, for those that are all for them. I'll bet this is the last year they race in the AC with them. Frekin nuts to be on one of these things in 33 knots- that is almost 40 mph with a sail you cannot de-power- frekin nuts....
Italian Team Seeks Change in America’s Cup Wind Limits After Sailor’s Death
By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY
More than a week after the death of British sailor Andrew Simpson in a training accident, none of the four America’s Cup teams have withdrawn from the competition, which is still scheduled to begin in early July in San Francisco.
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Luna Rossa had been training on the water in its AC72 for more than 40 days in Auckland, New Zealand, before its arrival in San Francisco, said Francesco Longanesi Cattani, a spokesman for the team.
But the teams have made significant proposals for change, none more publicly than Luna Rossa Challenge, whose team principal, the Italian fashion mogul Patrizio Bertelli, made it clear on Friday that the team wanted lower wind limits for racing or it would consider not participating.
Bertelli’s team then chose to ignore a general directive from the America’s Cup review committee not to sail until Wednesday, deploying its one and only AC72 yacht on Saturday for its first full on-water training session in San Francisco Bay.
“Psychologically for the team, it was important to go out sailing in order to restart and focus on our end,” said Francesco Longanesi Cattani, a spokesman for the team, in an interview Sunday. “It was also an opportunity in ideal conditions to test the boat after she had arrived here.”
Longanesi said Luna Rossa had been training on the water in its AC72 for more than 40 days in Auckland, New Zealand, before its arrival in San Francisco.
Though America’s Cup officials have expressed disappointment in the decision, there will apparently be no disciplinary repercussions with Tom Ehman, vice commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, who called the review committee directive a recommendation.
“It’s not a hard and fast requirement, at least not at this stage,” Ehman said by telephone.
Consensus remains elusive at this tense, uncertain stage. The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the death of Simpson, a two-time Olympic medalist, who was trapped under the wreckage of Team Artemis’s AC72 after it capsized in San Francisco Bay on May 9.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that Oracle Team USA, the American team that will defend the Cup, is changing the black skin on its wing sail to a transparent film to make it easier to see and thus find a crew member if one were to end up in the water after an accident.
“Andrew was apparently trapped under debris, and they couldn’t see him,” Ehman said. “Should the bottom section of the wing be clear? Should the trampolines be clear? The experts are all working on this sort of stuff.”
Artemis has communicated little publicly since the accident. The AC72 boat it intended to sail in San Francisco was not scheduled to arrive until later this month.
“I know Artemis is also respecting the process, and they have not pulled out of the competition,” Ehman said. “That’s certainly one of the things they are considering, but there’s no indication at this point of that from any of the teams. And Patrizio Bertelli, in fact, gave quite a strong endorsement for pressing on.”
Bertelli, chief executive of Prada and a longtime challenger for the Cup, was more circumspect in Friday’s news conference at the team’s temporary base in Alameda, Calif., than he had been in interviews with the Italian news media earlier in the week.
Luna Rossa, for now, appears committed to competing in the AC72 yachts, the big, fast catamarans with wing sails that represent a new age for the America’s Cup, which began in 1851 and has traditionally been contested in much slower monohull yachts with soft sails.
“In order for a boat to be safe, the crew must feel safe, and they need to trust their boat; this is primordial,” Bertelli said. “I have asked our sailors if they trust the boat, and our sailors have told me they do trust the boat and that they can sail on it. Obviously, we are going to look at technology and any tools that can help us to be safer. Also it’s very important to reduce the wind limits to around what we ask and to race as per the protocol and the class rule.
“We will not tolerate the bending of the rules using as an excuse the latest fatality, and we will respect the rules of the protocol and the class rule as they have been approved. We are absolutely in favor of discussing with all the other teams to try to find common solutions to the problems we face, but we will not accept any imposition.”
The existing rules in the protocol, the guiding document for this year’s competition, call for racing to take place in winds of up to 25 knots for the early rounds of the challenger series, known as the Louis Vuitton Cup. Those limits are to be increased to 28 knots for the final of the Vuitton Cup and then to 33 knots for the America’s Cup match in September, pitting the winner of the challenger series against Oracle Team USA, which is owned by the American billionaire Larry Ellison and represents Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Luna Rossa, which — unlike its competitors — has only one AC72, is asking for wind limits to be lowered to 20 knots for the entirety of the Vuitton Cup racing and then to 25 knots for the America’s Cup, Bertelli said.
Ehman, who worked for Oracle in its successful challenge for the Cup in 2010, said he understood other teams were also pushing for changes in the wind limits.
“It wouldn’t surprise any of us if that’s a recommendation that comes out of this, and they get the winds down lower,” Ehman said.
Races have regularly been postponed in previous Cups because of too much or too little wind. One of the objectives in setting them higher this time was to improve the sport’s marketability and reach so television networks could count on a race taking place in its scheduled time slot.
“One of the things we all want to do is, at the appointed race hour, we want to be able to start,” Ehman said, “because you’re going to have tens of thousands of spectators and a television audience.
“However, safety has to come first.”
In an interview in Alameda several days before the accident, Max Sirena, the skipper of Luna Rossa, explained his own comfort zone in an AC72 after his team’s extensive training in its yacht in Auckland.
“Over 20 knots, it’s a completely different game, I can tell you that,” Sirena said. “For sure, you enjoy sailing these boats up to 18, 19 knots.
“Over 20, you start to be scared about the boat, because they are super powerful. Over 20 knots, you just cannot depower the boat as much as you want.”