Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Azzurra Training in Auckland

Azzurra during the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Nice. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Azzurra.

by Jill Campbell

The Italian sailing team Azzurra from the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, skippered by Francesco Bruni with Tommaso Chieffi calling tactics, today took part in the official practice session of the Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta which is scheduled to start tomorrow, March 3rd 2010.

Bruni will race against an impressive line-up of top international match racing skippers which includes:
Adam Minoprio (NZL - BlackMatch Racing)
Torvar Mirsky (AUS - Mirsky Racing Team)
Sebastien Col (FRA - ALL4ONE)
Ben Ainslie (GBR - TEAMORIGIN)
Francesco Bruni (ITA - Azzurra Sailing Team)
Bertrand Pace (FRA)
Magnus Holmberg (SWE)
Dean Barker (NZL - Emirates Team New Zealand)
Chris Dickson (NZL - Dickson Racing Team)
Karol Jablonski (POL)

Entry to the Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta is by invitation only; as a result some of the biggest names in the America’s Cup and on the world match racing circuit are competing.

The regatta promises four days of intense, close-quarter sailing action on the inner Auckland harbour. Racing will start each day, weather permitting, at 10am. A grandstand erected near the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will give a great view of the entire course.

Crews will sail identical Farr-designed MRX yachts in a double round robin, semi-finals and finals. The semi-finals and finals will be decided by the first skipper to win three matches.

Francesco Bruni during the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Nice. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Azzurra.

Bruni will sail with his fellow team members Tommaso Chieffi (tactics), Ben Durham (main), Tom Burnham (pit), Pierluigi De Felice (trimmer) and Matteo Auguadro (bow).
At the end of today’s training, Bruni was very satisfied and eager to start the games: “We are very happy to be sailing again in New Zealand, which we consider a unique sailing paradise. Being able to compete in two events of such standing [Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta and Louis Vuitton Trophy] is a real luxury and we hope to make the most of them.”

The Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta will enable the all-Italian Azzurra team to fine tune their match racing skills and increase their local knowledge before the start of the much awaited Louis Vuitton Trophy, scheduled to run from 9th to 21st March 2010. Azzurra will try to defend its 2:0 victory of the previous Louis Vuitton Trophy event held in Nice last November against the local favourites Emirates Team New Zealand.

About Azzurra

Azzurra takes its name from the first Italian challenger to the America’s Cup which was launched by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in 1983. Azzurra finished third in the challenger series in Newport, RI, USA. The YCCS acted as Challenger of Record for the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia. Riccardo Bonadeo, Commodore of the YCCS and President of the current Azzurra consortium was also at the head of the Azzurra challenge in 1983.

The new team Azzurra, launched in October 2009, arose from the collaboration between the YCCS and Giovannni Maspero of Joe Fly, the team is led by skipper and helmsman Francesco Bruni, supported by tactician Tommaso Chieffi.

Francesco Bruni has taken part in two America's Cups and three Olympic Games.

Tommaso Chieffi is also one of the best Italian racing yachtsmen, with four America’s Cup and one Olympic Games to his credit. The rest of the crew is made up by match race, America’s Cup and one-design sailors.

The team exceeded all expectations in their first competitive event by beating Emirates Team New Zealand to take victory in the Louis Vuitton Trophy held in Nice in November 2009.

About the YCCS

The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda was founded in 1967 by H.H. the Aga Khan, Andrè Ardoin, Giuseppe Kerry Mentasti and Luigi Vietti as a non-profit sporting association for fellow sailing enthusiasts. The YCCS is renowned for organizing international sailing events such as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Sardinia Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup and in 2009 completed one of its busiest seasons – including two ISAF world championships, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship and the Audi Melges 32 World Championship and three events for super yachts (Dubois Cup, Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta and Perini Navi Cup) in addition to the 20th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. In the past the Club has also promoted international challenges such as Azzurra and the motor yacht Destriero, which to this day holds the transatlantic crossing record set in 1992. The Club’s members currently number more than 500.


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