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America’s Cup: the new Luna Rossa arrives with cyclists too

After Alinghi Red Bull Racing, it is the turn of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team to show, obviously packed, its new AC75. Last 15 March in Nembro, a few kilometres from Bergamo and in the hills of the Val Seriana, the doors of Persico Marine opened and the AC75, born in the shipyard directed by Marcello Persico, came out, adding a new “Luna Rossa” to the nine already built. (Here all our posts about America’s Cup)

The AC75 of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team leaving Persico Marine. Photo © Borlenghi

A long collaboration at the America’s Cup

The collaboration at the America’s Cup between Persico Marine and the Italian team began with the 2000 edition in Auckland when Luna Rossa reached the final duel then lost to Emirates Team New Zealand. Two more boats followed for the 2003 edition, also raced in Auckland, and two for the Valencia edition in 2007. For the 2013 San Francisco edition, Persico Marine then built the AC 72 catamaran. Finally, and for the 2021 edition back in Auckland (and with the Cup back on monohulls), Persico Marine builds the two AC75s with the second one winning the Prada Cup but losing 3-7 to the Kiwis. Now Luna Rossa number 10 with official launch scheduled for April.

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The AC72 Luna Rossa at the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco. In the background the Golden Gate.

Rowers, cyclists and sailors in the Power Team

Remaining in the home of the Circolo della Vela Sicilia team, in addition to the boat (packed) Luna Rossa presented its Power Team made up of the so-called cyclors who, using the strong leg muscles now allowed by the AC75’s tonnage rule, will power the hydraulic circuit that allows them to adjust the mast, sails and everything else that makes the AC75 ‘fly’. They are athletes from rowing with, among others, a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics and a bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, from professional cyclists and sailors. 

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The nine members of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Power Team.

America’s Cup: great athletes to give power

The composition of the Power Team was dictated, as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team’s skipper and team director Max Sirena declared: “By weight, because in order to fall within the parameters of the regulations (there is a minimum and maximum weight not only for the boat that goes from 6160 to 6200 kg but also for the crew of eight people that goes from 716 to 744 kg, ed.), a cyclor must weigh between 95 and 110 kg. Such a profile in the world of cycling is hard to find and the few who do have it are busy in their professional careers. So we mainly looked at rowing, the sport that is closest to cycling in terms of performance and physical characteristics”. 

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The AC75 Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team racing in the 36th America’s Cup.

The first cyclists aboard Sverige

It is not the first time ‘cyclists’ have been seen in the history of the Americas’ Cup.  In the 1977 edition of the challenger selection for the Herbert Pell Cup, alongside Alan Bond’s Australia, Gretel II, another Australian boat, and Marcel Bich’s France with Bruno Troublé at the helm, was Sverige from the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club designed and raced by Olympian Pelle Petterson. Also in the crew of that 12-metre yacht were four ‘cyclists’ who replaced the grinders and operated the winches. 

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Sverige’s cockpit with the four stations of the ‘cyclists’.

America’s Cup: Sverige defeated by Australia 

For history’s sake, Sverige reached the final of the challengers but was beaten by Australia, which with Noel Robins at the helm was in turn beaten 4-0 by the defender, Courageous, with Ted Turner at the helm. The American tycoon thus won his second assault on the Old Pitcher. For Alan Bond it was his second defeat after 1974. He suffered a third in 1980 but redeemed himself in the next edition, the 25th America’s Cup, when, in 1983, with Australia II and his fins after 132 years and 26 challenges won, he took the trophy away from the New York Yacht Club.

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A phase of the 1977 regattas with Australia KA5 ahead of Sverige (S3).

Aotearoa’s winning cyclists in Bermuda

Cyclists weren’t talked about for a few years until Emirates Team New Zealand proposed the pedal solution to their Atearoa (‘The Island of the Long White Cloud’, the ancient name by which the Maori people referred to today’s New Zealand, ed), the AC50 at the 35th America’s Cup held in 2017 in Bermuda. The Kiwis were the only ones to adopt this solution, which, thanks to the speed combined with the power the riders were able to provide to the hydraulic systems, proved to be the winning weapon in the final against BMW Oracle Racing.

Emilio Martinelli

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