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A Terrible Day For Prada

A Terrible Day For Prada

Press release no. 104
22 February 2000

A Terrible Day For Prada

Luna Rossa Suffers Problems as Team New Zealand Goes Up 2-0

Conditions were very shifty approaching race time, after a short squall crossed over the Hauraki Gulf. Race Director Harold Bennett postponed the start for 40 minutes to allow the wind to settle, and racing started at 13:55 in 14-16 knots of Southerly wind. The wind was stable in direction, but varied from 10-17 knots throughout the race.


TEAM NEW ZEALAND BEAT LUNA ROSSA – DELTA 02:43 With a masterful pre-start, skipper Russell Coutts on Team New Zealand (NZL-60) gained an early advantage on Luna Rossa (ITA-45) and went on to build a big lead early in the race. Francesco de Angelis, skipper of the Italian boat, looked to be overmatched by the Kiwis who used some classic match-racing manoeuvres to counteract the Italian’s starboard tack advantage on the pre-start. After a dial-up, deep below the starting line, Coutts was able to escape to leeward of de Angelis. The black boat stopped quickly when Coutts luffed very sharply into the wind. De Angelis couldn’t slow as quickly on the dial-up, and overshot Team New Zealand, allowing the bear-away escape. The Kiwis gained a controlling position with both boats extending out to leeward of the line on port tack. Coutts forced de Angelis outside of the Committee Boat and held the Italians out there until he was ready to return on his run to the line. De Angelis could only trail behind the black boat on the approach to the start line. Although the Italian skipper tried to escape being covered by throwing in two downspeed tacks, Coutts held an 18-second lead and kept covering as the boats tacked across the starting line.

The first beat was a disaster for Luna Rossa. After trailing at the starting line by over two boatlengths, de Angelis gained a little bit of separation as both boats sailed out to the left and was actually gaining, closing the advantage to just 10 metres. Luna Rossa was showing good speed and height, pointing well relative to Team New Zealand. But suddenly, the Italian boat slowed as calamity struck in the form of debris around the keel. Crew member Massimiliano Sirena, a bowman, suffered a head wound when he was hit in the head by the carbon fibre weed stick that the crews use to clear weeds from the keel. As he was working to clear the keel, the stick whipped back and opened a six centimetre cut on his head. Sirena was attended to by other crew members who used towels and bandages to stem the bleeding before he was eventually taken off the boat for stitches. Blood could be seen sprayed across the hull of the boat where Sirena leaned over the side while his compatriots worked to help him. At the same time, other crewmen struggled to free the debris from around the keel of the boat. A crewman was hung over the side working the keel stick in an effort to clear the appendage. When that didn’t work, de Angelis ordered the sails to be luffed to slow the boat, and Piero Romeo, a main trimmer, went over the side, diving to try and clear the keel. By the time the Italians settled down, Team New Zealand led at the first mark by a monstrous 2:19, and were in solid control of the race.

The trouble didn’t end at the top mark for Luna Rossa. As de Angelis brought the boat around the weather mark, the wind caught the spinnaker early and pulled it out of the hatch, the sail trailing behind the boat before the it was finally raised into position. But finally, the Italians regained their focus, and worked well downwind, gaining 24-seconds on the leg. Team New Zealand was still in a good position, nearly two minutes ahead beginning the second lap of the course.

The rest of the race was a matter of Team New Zealand protecting a big lead. Although Luna Rossa closed on a couple of legs in the race, that could have been due to the Kiwis taking a cautious, conservative approach in terms of race management. To add to the Italian misery, the boat suffered more problems, this time in the form of the port side jib sheet track, which was disabled on the final beat. Team New Zealand went on to a convincing win, and now holds a 2-0 lead in the best of nine America’s Cup Match.

Although Team New Zealand sailed a very strong race, it was a frustrating day for America’s Cup fans. Coutts displayed mastery of the pre-start but Luna Rossa was coming on strong before a series of problems knocked it well back of the black boat. Observers will now have to wait until Race Three, scheduled for Thursday, to see whether the Italians can give the Kiwi’s a good, close race.


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