America's Cup: Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena reveals frosty relationship with Team New Zealand

Grant Dalton and Max Sirena. Photo / Photosport

Luna Rossa has had a long and close history with Team New Zealand – but it appears that is now in the past, according to the Italians’ skipper Max Sirena.

In an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa ahead of the launch of their second boat on Tuesday, Sirena hinted at the frosty relationship with Team NZ and team boss Grant Dalton.

“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.

“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.”

Sirena has had close ties with Team NZ, having shaped the direction of next year’s America’s Cup in Auckland.

The Italians have also worked with Team NZ many times in the past: In 2013, Luna Rossa bought a design package from Team NZ, who went on to beat them in the Louis Vuitton Cup final; When Luna Rossa withdrew from Bermuda 2017, they loaned their test boat to a financially stricken Team NZ, an important factor in the Kiwis’ challenge; Sirena himself was hired by Team NZ when New Zealand won back the Auld Mug.

The Challenger of Record has even brought in Kiwi yachting great Brad Butterworth in an external and institutional relations officer role to help facilitate communication with the New Zealand hosts for December’s world series event and the Prada Cup challenger series, which the Italians are responsible for running.

But Luna Rossa have also had its fair share of quarrels with Team NZ over the cancelled world series events in Europe, as well as boat designs and wind limits for the regatta.

When Luna Rossa hired Team NZ’s long nemesis Australian Jimmy Spithill in 2018, Dalton insisted the relationship was still close.

“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,” Dalton said at the time.

“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.”

However, Sirena reiterated that now the two teams are opponents and that this is a new era.

“We are talking about another era. We helped them win the Cup, period. Reached the goal, [now we are] opponents as before.”

Luna Rossa will launch their second AC75 on Tuesday, following American Magic who unveiled their second boat Patriot last Friday and INEOS Team UK who launched their boat Britannia a day later.

Team NZ have yet to announce when they will be launching their second boat.

“We certainly expect something different than their boat one. On paper they are the strongest team,” Sirena added.

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