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Style & Experiences

“Adrenaline is at its peak” (Ep.2)

Shortly before the start of the first regatta of the America's Cup, the captain and skipper of the Luna Rossa Max Sirena boat gives his impressions.

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino10 mars 2021

Max Sirena Team Director and Skipper of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Jimmy Spithill, one of the eleven sailors on the Italian boat. With a double title, this is Jimmy Spithill's seventh participation in the America's Cup (© COR 36 | Studio Borlenghi)

It is the long-awaited D-day. This March 10th at 16:15 local time, the two first races of the America's Cup saw Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli compete on the Auckland race waters. This first day ended in a tie at one victory per team. While the city is still on COVID level 2 alert, race waters near the coast are banned to avoid crowds, the only areas available being Course A, towards Takapuna, and Course E in the Waiheke Island area.

What improvements did you make to Luna Rossa during the PRADA Cup that led you to victory?

We improved both aerodynamics and sail trimming. But I think the most significant improvement was in the communication between the three sailors Jimmy (Spithill), Checco (Francesco Bruni) and Pietro (Sibello). After the round-robin regattas we made a thorough critical analysis, because we were aware that we were not leading the race at the highest possible level. We tried to identify the mistakes and improve to be ready for the semi-finals against the Americans. Having sailed more regattas than the British allowed us to train more and to become more familiar with our boat and the way we sail.

The AC75 are closer to a plane than to a boat ( © COR 36 | Studio Borlenghi)

How do you evaluate the progress of the New Zealanders between the first races and the preparation of the America's Cup?

It is always difficult to compare the performance and progress of two teams that have not met for several months. Obviously we have observed each other a lot over the last few weeks. What I see is that they have a boat that is very fast in a straight line. But the fact that we have competed in many more races than the New Zealanders gives us an advantage, from a purely sporting point of view. However, in the end the America's Cup is won by the fastest boat, so it will be important to see how much we have improved our performance.

09/03/21 - Auckland (NZL)36th America’s Cup presented by Prada36 America’s Cup Match - Pre Event Press ConferencePeter Burling (Sailor - Emirates Team New Zealand), Max Sirena (Team Director & Skipper - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team), America’s Cup Trophy (DR)

Timing - provided by your Panerai sponsor - is fundamental, especially in the management of the starts. How did you work on this aspect?

Timing is the ABC of racing, especially in Match Racing. We have a countdown timer that identifies a period of time during which the boats enter a starting area, try to get into a "lead" or "push" position (where you try to push your competitor to the fault) and then we try to get the best start when the time is up. For us, time is essential in the pre-start phase and a watch, like our Panerai, is a very important tool that we rely on.

The AC75 Luna Rossa's top speeds can reach 54 knots (© COR 36 | Studio Borlenghi)

Speeds are at their highest on these boats - you can reach speeds of up to 54 knots and the feeling when tacking can be as much as 2G. Are you getting used to these speeds? Have you ever had a feeling of danger?

When racing, you are totally focused on the competition, so you have little time to think about collateral effects or danger. Adrenaline is at its peak. The feeling of danger or being at the limit is more perceptible during training when the tension is a little lower and you are testing the equipment. But once you are in the area, it is as if you close the visor of your helmet and just think about taking the boat to the maximum.

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