America's Cup 2021: New look for Luna Rossa for start of Prada Cup

Luna Rossa in action. Photo / Brett Phibbs

When Luna Rossa get out on the water for their first race of the Prada Cup Challengers Series today, they’ll be doing so with a slightly different look to their boat.

After forgoing the use of a running backstay in the America’s Cup World Series, the Italian challenger have installed one for their opening race of the Prada Cup, when they take on Ineos Team UK in this afternoon’s second race.

The backstay is a sail trim control that runs from the mast to the stern of the boat, and effects the shape of the mainsail and headsail.

Luna Rossa was the only team not to use one during the America’s Cup World Series as a way of minimising drag.

Speaking to the Herald this morning, team helmsman Francesco Bruni confirmed the inclusion of the backstay for today but indicated it was not yet a permanent fixture.

“We will be using them today, but we’ll see what happens in the next days,” Bruni said.

It’s one of a number of changes and adjustments the team has made since the conclusion of the America’s Cup World Series in December in a bid to make their vessel as fast as possible.

Luna Rossa was the only team to not use a running backstay during the America's Cup World Series. Photo / Michael Craig
Luna Rossa was the only team to not use a running backstay during the America’s Cup World Series. Photo / Michael Craig

But while Bruni suggested the addition of a running backstay may not be permanent, there have been suggestions that Luna Rossa will be forced to use one for the entire regatta.

However, speaking before the event team skipper Max Sirena said it was still unclear as to whether the team would be forced to make it a permanent fixture.

“There is still an interpretation on the table, but we’re ready for everything,” Sirena said. “You can not count your performance just on one thing. Sure, there is someone else who has a different opinion from us, there are some who would just change the class rule every time they want.

“Once we have an answer on the interpretation we will decide. We are ready for everything. The last to practice days we sailed the races with a backstay on and we performed well so I’m not really worried about that; we need to be strong in any conditions and with whatever they ask us to race with.”

It’s been the same story for all three challengers and while they all believe they have improved, Bruni said Ineos Team UK had made the biggest strides in their performance over the past few weeks.

As for his own team, Bruni was confident in what they could achieve in the coming weeks.

“The team is feeling strong. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time and finally I hope we can deliver a good show. We know we have a fast boat, we know we can be very competitive in the boat-to-boat, so we just have to do our job well and everything is going to be fine.”

Prada Cup Day 1 Schedule

Race 1: American Magic v Ineos Team UK at 3.15pm
Race 2: Ineos Team UK v Luna Rossa at 4.15pm

The opening day of racing will run on Course C.

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.