CupInfo: Azzurra Skipper Francesco Bruni
Louis Vuitton and Looking Ahead to the Next America's Cup
Talking with Azzurra's
Long Beach, March 24, 2010
A year ago, Francesco Bruni came to the Congressional Cup as a last minute replacement following a successful debut at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series with Damiani Italia. But with the future uncertain for Cup employment, his main focus at the time was the Joe Fly Farr 40 program.
What a difference a year makes.
Bruni finished second in the Con Cup in 2009 and then grew the Joe Fly program into the Azzurra team, while the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series morphed into the Louis Vuitton Trophy -- and Bruni’s fledgling team took the Cup world by storm, winning the LVT in Nice and finishing third in the LVT in Auckland last week behind only ETNZ and Mascalzone Latino.
Not a bad showing for a skipper whose finish in last year’s Con Cup was considered the surprise of the regatta.
Bruni returns to Long Beach this week with Azzura, including tactician Tom Burnham who joined Bruni at this event last year. Back then it was just a one-off from his gig with Quantum’s TP52 team, but now it has become a regular ride with the Italian team. Both men are happy to say that Cup employment seems to be on the rise.
“We are happy that we can see some talk about the future,” said Bruni. “We know that we will come to a solution very soon. At least there was a winner. The winner is going to make some rules, the loser hopefully will be a little quieter and not try to win it in the court! We see a little bit of a future in front of us.
“There are a lot of interrogative points -- the date, when, where, which boats, etc., but it’s much better than it was a year ago when we didn’t know if there would ever be an America’s Cup again.”
Bruni confirmed that Azzura has indeed been consulted by BMW Oracle Racing in anticipation of the protocol for the next Cup.
“They know our opinion. Our opinion is there are three points that they have to consider: Not too big of a budget, because the economic times are not such that you can have a 200 million Euro program, it has to be between 40 and 60 million to be competitive.
“Second point is that it cannot be too early, but it cannot be too late. Some say they’re talking about 2015, which is crazy, you can’t ask a sponsor to be committed for five years. At the same time, you can’t find the money tomorrow. So I think a date between 2012 and 2013 would be okay.
“Third point is, we would like match racing, and for match racing, the multhulls are not the solution. To have a good performing monohull is the solution. That’s our position.”
Despite all the uncertainty in the America’s Cup last year, Bruni kept busy on the World Match Racing Tour though sometimes it demanded adapting on short notice in order to seize the opportunities.
“We did a lot of match racing last year -- even if we were invited at the last moment -- which made it hard to get a consistent crew. But we did a good season overall with the match race circuit. This year we have a little bit more of an advantage because we have a card for the world tour, so we can plan a little bit better.
“But it was a very good year. We were fourth in Auckland [in 2009] and won in Nice, and just finished third [in the Louis Vuitton Trophy]. We also had a good result in the Farr 40 and the Melges 32 with Joe Fly, so it was a very good year overall for me, as a tactician and a helmsman. I hope every year is going to be like that!”
As the team goes forward, the Louis Vuitton Trophy is a main focus. For Bruni and Azzurra, it’s a chance to work on a much more even playing field, and nowhere was that more obvious than in the level of competition Bruni saw in Auckland.
“Everyone is very competitive, especially on the sailing team side,” Bruni said. “I think that racing with the same boats, equal boats, the sailing teams learn a lot more. In the America’s Cup in the past, if you have a slower boat, you couldn’t learn as much as the other teams, but now, the races have been so close and so tight that you learn quickly. It has been a very nice exercise. A lot of teams have made a big jump.”
In the America’s Cup game, nothing seems to be as certain as the continuing level of uncertainty -- there’s optimism in the air, but certainty? Not quite yet. Anything can change, even the crew line up.
“We are not an America’s Cup team, nobody’s an America’s Cup team yet,” says Bruni. “The sailing team is pretty strong, but we’ll change things between now and the America’s Cup. It was a good start-up for us, a good bunch of guys to start with, and they’ll keep going with us, but we’ll do some modifications. And we still need a design team -- we’re talking with different designers now.
“We need the whole structure of an America’s Cup team. It was not necessary to have one, it would have just been money wasted to have a full America’s Cup team without an America’s Cup.”
At least we know there will be that -- it’s just the when, where and how that wait to be decided.
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