During the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco, the Italian Luna Rossa syndicate worked closely with Emirates Team New Zealand, benefitting from the Kiwi design expertise while based at Auckland's Viaduct, near the ETNZ headquarters. This “design collaboration” was also seen in the 35th Match when Oracle shared design expertise with the fledgling Team Japan.
Relations between ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton and Oracle Team USA boss, Sir Russell Coutts have never been cordial, with Dalton and most other New Zealanders unable to forgive Coutts for defecting to the Alinghi syndicate in 2003 after winning (in 1995) and then defending (in 1999-2000) the Cup for New Zealand. In San Francisco, Dalton's hatred for Coutts reached new levels and Team New Zealand was at the forefront of accusations of cheating against Oracle – nothing new in the long, sordid history of sporting's oldest trophy.
However, it was often Luna Rossa's skipper, Max Sirena, who fired at Oracle the bullets that Dalton made. So it was no surprise, when Luna Rossa pulled out of the challenge for the 35th Match in a fit of pique over the change from 72ft to 50ft catamarans, that Sirena soon appeared as a “consultant” on the ETNZ team list.
The Italian/New Zealand collaboration continues with the news that Luna Rossa has been accepted as the Challenger of Record for the next Cup Match, presumably to be held in Auckland. It is not new for a defender to have a “tame” challenger of record but it is to be hoped that common sense, and not the settling of old scores, will be the prime motivator when the two teams sit down to map out the protocol for the 36th Match.
– Roger McMillan
Here is the media release which announces the partnership:
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron accepts the challenge of Circolo della Vela Sicilia, which becomes the Challenger of Record for the XXXVI America's Cup.
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is pleased to announce that it has accepted a challenge from Circolo della Vela Sicilia which was received immediately upon the victory of Emirates Team New Zealand in the last race of the 35th America's Cup.
As the first challenger, CVS will be the Challenger of Record for the 36th America's Cup and its representative team will be Luna Rossa Challenge.
The 36th America’s Cup will be open to further challengers from any organized Yacht Club of a foreign country under conditions to be announced in due course.
RNZYS and its representative team, Emirates Team New Zealand, look forward to working with CVS and Luna Rossa Challenge to create an exciting future for the event by combining innovation with the traditional sporting values of the America’s Cup.
By the Commodores.
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
Agostino Randazzo Randazzo.
Circolo della Vela Sicilia.