With Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni at the helm of the Italian boat on this occasion, Luna Rossa closes the second preliminary event of the 37th America’s Cup in second place, following a display of brilliant sailing in the fleet races. This result «is the outcome of the collective work of the whole team, and is an additional boost to continue to improve for the next Cup», says Max Sirena, Skipper and Team Director. «Personally, it gave me great satisfaction to see such a high level of performance and I congratulate the crew for the way they conducted the races. For sure, when you compete you do it to win, and not having achieved the goal is disappointing, but this "hunger" for victory will be useful for us to reach the next events even more prepared and competitive».
As was to be expected, the America's Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah presented by NEOM "Grand Finale" was spectacular, with hard-fought knife-edge racing, aggressive maneuvers, frantic crossings and adrenaline running high. Weather conditions, with steady NW 12/17 knot winds and a short wave, also contributed to the perfect background for the AC40s, which sailed in conditions that were not easy, providing adrenaline and thrill to the audience, including the many spectator boats on the water.
Huge satisfaction for Luna Rossa as the team brings home the second victory of the event at the end of a breathtaking race. Despite the slight delay on start, the Italian boat gained speed and regroups with the fleet mid-way down the first leg, rounding gate 1 in third place. On the downwind leg Gradoni and Tita helmed the AC40 flawlessly and, despite the gusty winds and short wave, flying at over 40 knots on their foils, they managed to steadily recover positions. At the second gate Luna Rossa inflicted a penalty on the French Orient Express Racing Team and rounded the mark first. From that moment on the Italian boat led the rest of the race, defending the head of the fleet in conditions that were all but simple. Luna Rossa's lead steadily increased until the finish line, which she crossed first with an 11-second lead. This victory, worth 10 points, earns Luna Rossa the rightful entry to the Match Race Final for the top two ranked teams.
Luna Rossa: 1st place (+ 10 points).
The last fleet race was, predictably, very close as all teams gave their 100% effort to finish the event in the best possible way. Even Luna Rossa, although already qualified for the final, did not spare itself, fighting up to the last meter for victory. The Italian boat’s race however was interrupted just a few meters from the finish line due to a problem with the hydraulic systems that did not allow her to cross the finish line.
Luna Rossa: DNF (did not finish) (+ 1 points).
FINAL MATCH RACE Luna Rossa vs ETNZ
Luna Rossa came to terms with ETNZ's greater experience in the prestart stages and found herself chasing the kiwi boat from the first windward mark. The gap was never excessive between the two boats, as shown by the deltas at the gates, always in the order of a few seconds. The Italian crew, despite a problem with the hydraulic systems that did not allow them to perform at their best, never stopped fighting, maneuvering constantly in the attempt to bring ETNZ into an error, but the Defender didn’t miss a beat. Coming out of the final gate, a nosedive put an end to Luna Rossa's hopes.
«Like everyone else we came here to win; we have been racing very well all week, while today was a difficult day for many reasons», commented Marco Gradoni. «I don't want to make excuses, but we had several problems and made a rush to have the final match race. We definitely didn't race at our best, but we were right there with the Kiwis. When you start behind the Defender, catching up is not easy...».
«We are very happy with how it went overall», said Ruggero Tita. «Clearly, the more you eat the hungrier you get, and once you reach the finals you hope for a different conclusion. In the match we didn't have a great start, also due to some problems with the boat that prevented us from getting to the line on time; from then on we tried to recover by getting closer and closer to the kiwis and continued to fight as long as the boat allowed us to because it kept overheating, which was also one of the causes for the nosedive at the final gate».