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The action hots up in the race for the America’s Cup

Words by Rob Chilton

American capsize disaster gives Italian team a chance in the qualifying race for sailing's most prestigious event

Italian sailing team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli are on course for a berth in the final of the Prada Cup after their American rivals suffered a dramatic capsize that experienced British competitor Ben Ainslie called “horrific.”

America's Patriot boat capsizes, with all sailors unharmed

Currently being held in Auckland, New Zealand, the Prada Cup is drawing to a thrilling conclusion, with the final running February 13-22. The winner of the round-robin event, which also features Britain’s Ineos Team UK led by quadruple Olympic gold medal winner Ainslie, will progress to face the holders Emirates Team New Zealand in the 36th America’s Cup, which begins on March 6.

Panerai keeps the Italian team on time

With the American Magic boat Patriot now seemingly out of the picture, Luna Rossa’s skipper Max Sirena will surely sense a golden opportunity to meet the Kiwis in the America’s Cup finale, providing they can get past the Brits. A two-time winner of the Auld Mug, as the trophy is affectionately known, Sirena is determined to make it a hat-trick in the 170-year-old event.

Team Luna Rossa are flying

“It is an obsession because you only live for the Cup during the campaign, there’s no time left for family, friends or your personal life,” said Sirena. “It takes everything from you, and you give everything you have to the campaign and the team you’re working with. You forget everything else.”

Watch and boat hull are made from the same Carbotech material

The Luna Rossa team are being assisted in their split-second decisions on the water by a special watch made by Panerai, the Prada Cup’s official timekeeper. The 47mm Submersible Luna Rossa is a robust dive watch made from Carbotech, the same material used to build the boat’s hull, while pieces of the sail have been applied to the grey dial. Water-resistant to 300 metres, the watch is, like the sailors wearing it – built for extreme conditions.

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