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Confident Luna Rossa issue challenge to Team NZ after Kiwis imitating strategy

Luna Rossa have taken the high ground heading into the America’s Cup final after seeing Team New Zealand imitate their twin-helmsman scheme, believing the late change could help them claim the Auld Mug.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team. Source: Photosport

The two syndicates were back out training on the Hauraki Gulf yesterday in decent winds after the start to the America’s Cup was postponed earlier this week due to recent Covid-19 community outbreak in Auckland which has resulted in a level 3 restrictions.

Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena claims they saw Team NZ trialling the twin-helmsman approach during their pre-start practice with Peter Burling and Glenn Ashby both able to operate the wheel from either side.

The approach means there is less movement on the boat in what can be chaotic times as teams vie for the best spot heading into a race.

The Italians have used the set-up since arriving in Auckland, leading Sirena to joke to Sky Sports UK overnight about others trying to copy them.

“Double helmsmen? We have patented it, we have already sued the British and the New Zealanders,” Sirena said.

After the light-hearted dig though, Sirena gave a more serious breakdown of how he viewed Team NZ’s trial.

“Even today we watched them as they trained to make starts ... at least in the starting phase Peter Burling no longer goes from one side to the other.

“It is evident that having a double helmsman, especially in the starting phase, has great advantages because there is not that period of time in which the boat can be less under control when the helmsman goes from one side to the other.”

If the Kiwis are using the system, it means Burling would have to trim the sails while Ashby is at the helm – a move that would require a large amount of coordination from the crew to pull off during the pressure-filled pre-starts.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that Luna Rossa’s Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni have not only been doing it for longer, but have also got the ploy down effectively with Luna Rossa storming through the Prada Cup past American Magic and INEOS Team UK.

As such, Sirena confidently issued a challenge to Team NZ.

“I hope they do it also in racing because it would give us an advantage: it is not something that comes immediately.”