Photos: Nigel Marple/Luna Rossa Challenge 2013

Chris Draper joins Luna Rossa

Italian America's Cup challenger launches AC45 in Auckland

Monday January 23rd 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The Italian team Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 launched and sailed its AC45 for the first time in Auckland last Monday.

Luna Rossa has a long, proud history in the modern era of the America's Cup, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup in its first challenge in 2000, and reaching the semi finals in 2003 and the finals in 2007.

The team started planning for the Cup several months ago, announcing its challenge late last year. It's first racing will come in the next America's Cup World Series event in Naples, Italy in April. Time, says skipper Max Sirena, if of the essence as the team gets prepared to race. An agreement with Emirates Team New Zealand will allow the team to fast track its preparation.

"Our plan is to sail the AC45 alone for about the first 10 days and then we'll join Emirates Team New Zealand for some racing to have some real competition," said Sirena. "We have to use this time as well as possible. We're starting from zero in the AC45 so we have to close the gap."

Sirena says Luna Rossa has nearly half the sailing team in place, and introduced Chris Draper (previously with Team Korea), Francesco Bruni (a Luna Rossa stalwart), Matteo Plazzi (with Luna Rossa for three campaigns as well as with BMW Oracle Racing for the last Cup on the giant trimaran) and Paul Campbell-James who has been with the team during its winning season on the Extreme Sailing Series.

Sirena says the team's AC72 is already under construction in Italy and when completed, it will be shipped to New Zealand to be assembled.

The team plans to be in New Zealand through March for training.

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