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Americas Cup - Leading Prada Team Rigs Up New Boat

Italy's Prada team will pull out its second yacht Luna Rossa ITA 48 to race the round robin 3 challenger match races on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. Prada notched up a formidable lead in both previous round robins in the Americas Cup Louis Vuitton challenger series being sailed in New Zealand.

Its leading initial boat, Luna Rossa ITA45, was only beaten once, by Mr Americas Cup, Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes. Luna Rossa ITA45 has a total of 46 points, entering RR3 at the top of the challenger table.

Round robin 3 of the Louis Vuitton Cup, will start Thursday, 2 December [New Zealand Time]. Prada's second boat Luna Rossa (ITA 48) is expected to be an even sleeker vessel.

Laurent Esquier, Operations Manager of team Prada, said today: "We have decided to use the second Luna Rossa because the races are the only real test; we have been training for a while with both boats (ITA 45 and ITA 48) racing against each other, but in a certain sense it was like 'dancing with your sister'.

"We had to complete the circle and we decided therefore to put the second boat under the enemy's fire. In the past few days we did a lot of work on ITA 48 in order to reach the same standard of tune-up and preparation as on the first boat."

Doung Peterson, designer of Luna Rossa, said: "ITA 48 is slightly narrower than the first boat but both are designed to go well in the same conditions; they are all round yachts which have a similar level of performance.

"However, they don't behave in exactly the same way and we wanted to give the crew the opportunity to fully understand them and to feel 100% comfortable on both yachts.

"We also wish to make sure that everything works as it should. It was a team choice and we discussed it in detail. We think it is the right decision. In the next Round there will be some surprises, as a lot of teams made many important modifications to their boats."

The opening press conference for Round Robin three is scheduled for Wednesday 1 December afternoon [New Zealand Time]. The draw ceremony for the pairings of this Round will take place on that occasion.

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