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Man-Overboard! Heralds A 1st For Prada

Published: Mon 18 Oct 1999 05:34 PM
Man Overboard! Crew-member Falls Off The Prada Boat
A poor spinnaker drop on Prada, in its match against Nippon, resulted in the first man-overboard of the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup. Through no fault of his own, it was an ignominious start to the regatta for mastman Simone de Mari.
The problem developed on the approach to the first leeward mark - the spinnaker shredded and dropped into the water, enabling Nippon to sail around the outside.
Prada is being eyed as a front runner in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series.
It's big bucks syndicate managed a huge win by beating FAST 2000 by 4min 20sec.
Italy and Prada has a long association with the Americas Cup.
Italy has already reached the giddy heights of the America's Cup when it won the Louis Vuitton Cup in 1992 with the extravagant Il Moro di Venezia syndicate from Venice. But there it stopped as Il Moro was beaten 5-1 in San Diego by Bill Koch's equally expensive America3 syndicate.
In 1995 there was no Italian challenge but 1999 sees a new organisation headed by fashion entrepreneur Patrizio Bertelli, husband of fashion design genius Miuccia Prada.
Essentially a privately funded syndicate, Bertelli made some key strategic decisions early on about recruitment. He was keen to use the best that Italy had to offer where there was a world class level in his country, but was not so short-sighted that he couldn't appreciate the gaps in Italy's portfolio.
He chose the popular and talented Francesco de Angelis, Admiral's Cup, IOR and IMS winner, as skipper and helmsman, and de Angelis chose Brazilian-born, multi-Olympic medallist Torben Grael as his tactician. Grael and de Angelis have sailed together for many years and are well respected as a quiet but ruthlessly efficient pair.
On the design front, Bertelli called on Argentinian-born German Frers and American-born Doug Peterson as his principal designers. Frers was the designer of the five Il Moros and Peterson has got the best IACC design credentials around, having been a member of the 1992 America3 and 1995 Team New Zealand design teams. Both syndicates won the America's Cup and the boisterous Peterson would love to make it three in a row.
On the coaching front Rod Davis, the helmsman of the OneAustralia syndicate in 1995, has been hired. Davis was the only man to ever beat Team New Zealand on the water. He comes with a full understanding of the Italian sailing culture, the most current America's Cup experience possible and will be a huge asset to the team.
Bill Koch sold the America3 syndicate's assets to the Prada syndicate a couple of years ago and the Italians have spent two winters training in Auckland with Koch's old boats. The logistics and day to day management of the team is in the hands of Frenchman Laurent Esquier, who fulfilled the same roll for Michael Fay's syndicate in 1986-87, Il Moro in 1992 and for Chris Dickson's TAG Heuer Challenge in 1995. During the Northern summer seasons, the Prada Challenge train from the domestic base in Punta Ala in the Mediterranean.
Selwyn Manning - Scoop Auckland
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