Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton has the hard-nosed attitude needed to succeed in the tough world of the America’s Cup.
Italian skipper Max Sirena has highlighted the frosty relationship with Team New Zealand, declaring: “In the America’s Cup there no friends”.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli mainstay Sirena has a long history with Team New Zealand and the two syndicates have shaped the direction of this 36th edition of the Cup in Auckland, though they have had squabbles over the boat design and wind limits for the regatta as well as the handling of the cancelled world series events in Europe.
Luna Rossa have even brought in Kiwi Brad Butterworth to try to smooth the waters for the looming Christmas Cup and Prada Cup challengers series.
In a wide-ranging interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa ahead of the launch of their second boat in Auckland on Tuesday, Sirena was asked about relations with Emirates Team New Zealand. He didn’t back away.
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“In the America’s Cup there are no friends, like in sport. I would be surprised otherwise. It is in the DNA of this competition. We all want to win,” Sirena said of the high-stakes game that is so expensive to contest.
“If I went out for a beer with Grant Dalton every night it would sound out of place, it would sound strange.
“Of course, if I then meet him on the street it is not that I turn away ”.
LUNA ROSSA PRADA PIRELLI
Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena has plenty of America’s Cup experience to draw on, including two winning campaigns.
When it was noted that Sirena was an ally of Team New Zealand in Bermuda 2017 where the Kiwis won back the Auld Mug – he was actually part of the Kiwi management with Luna Rossa sitting out that edition – the Italian again held firm.
“We are talking about another era. We helped them win the Cup, period. Reached the goal, [now we are] opponents as before,” Sirena said.
Team New Zealand have a close history with Luna Rossa, beating the Italians in their first defence of the Cup at Auckland 2000.
When the decision was made to go to giant catamarans for San Francisco 2013, Luna Rossa bought a design package off Team New Zealand who went on to beat them in the Louis Vuitton Cup final.
When Luna Rossa withdrew from Bermuda 2017, frustrated at constant changes made to the rules by then defenders Oracle Team USA, they loaned their test boat to a financially struggling Team New Zealand.
That was a key to giving the Team New Zealand challenge momentum and several Italians were hired, including Sirena, to keep them up with the fast-evolving foiling game with an eye on Luna Rossa returning if the Kiwis were successful.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Patrizio Bertelli, Team Principal of Luna Rossa, Agostino Randazzo, president of the Yacht Club Sicilia; and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron commodore Steve Mair, shakes hands after Emirates Team New Zealand won back the America’s Cup at Bermuda 2017.
Key Italians were on Team New Zealand’s main support boat when Team New Zealand completed their dominant win over Oracle in Bermuda and their place as challenger of record was signed within minutes of the Kiwi’s pedal-powered cat crossing the line.
In 2018 Luna Rossa hired Australian Jimmy Spithill, Team New Zealand’s long-term nemesis, for Auckland 2021. When Dalton learned of that he said: “The relationship between us and them won’t falter via that he keeps his gob shut basically. But I think they will have that in control.
“We have a really strong relationship with Luna Rossa and it goes back in history now, and particularly now with them as challenger of record for the next cup, that relationship has only got stronger.”
Instead, it has deteriorated and Sirena’s latest comments are another sign that the America’s Cup is getting very real in Auckland.
Luna Rossa’s boat launch on Tuesday follows American Magic unveiling their second boat Patriot last Friday and already getting it under sail. INEOS Team UK launched their second boat Britannia last Saturday.
The team’s new space age design features a much narrower hull than other boats.
Team New Zealand have yet to declare when they will launch their second boat.
“We certainly expect something different than their boat one. On paper they are the strongest team,” Sirena said of Team New Zealand.
The Christmas Cup regatta, involving Team New Zealand and the three challengers, is on December 17-20.
Team New Zealand then break away to train by themselves with the challengers contesting the Prada Cup in January and February.
The winner of that takes on Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup match in March.