America’s Cup: Italy’s Power Play

America’s Cup winners are usually viewed as having triumphed by being at the forefront of technology or through the sailing skills of their team. But in entering its sixth challenge to the regatta, Italy’s Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, team rather focuses on a neglected dimension, by generating the power to win.

What is Italy’s record in the America’s Cup?

In 2021 Italy scented victory in the 36th America’s Cup when they lost to New Zealand. However, the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team still won the Challenger Selection Series – now named “Prada Cup” against the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand. Although Italy lost the series, the team still achieved the best-ever result for an Italian boat in the history of the race. It was also the best outcome by a challenger not winning the America’s Cup. The team launches its sixth challenge to the regatta to be raced in Barcelona between August and October. This time the team will be doing everything, literally, in its power to achieve the sweet smell of success.

What part does power play in winning the America’s Cup?

Before the power, there must be the money. And it is Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada Group, who is backing the team. He is famed for his innovative business insights, including controlling the supply chain and uncompromising attention to quality. Such experience has also proved invaluable in his long-term commitment to the America’s Cup which has earned him the accolade of being the first Italian in history to be inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Wind power propels sailing vessels. But Italy is relying as much on the “Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Power Team.” The hydraulic system tuning the heavy flaps and foils is driven with leg power. Today’s foiling monohulls have four cyclors, stationary cyclists, in the yacht’s cockpit. Their leg strength generates the pedal power driving the hydraulic systems that allow the trimmers to adjust sails and mast.

“Experience or skills in sailing is not the first requirement of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s Power Team”

What makes Italy’s cyclors fit for purpose?

Experience or skills in sailing are not the first requirements of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s Power Team. The team includes athletes who have achieved national, international, and Olympic success in diverse sports. These include rowing, cycling, and windsurfing as well as sailing. Generating the power that lifts and lowers the heavy foils on either side of the boat takes a huge physical effort. For this reason, the athletes undergo specific training. This not only maximizes physical power but also focuses on overall mobility and injury prevention. This is required as the cyclors face intense activity in uncomfortable and unnatural positions putting them under great physical strain.