Francesco Bruni © Photo by OnEditon/AWMRT
Bermuda (11th October 2013): Judging from his performance so far at the Argo Group Gold Cup, Italian skipper Francesco Bruni has been missing the Tour. He last competed in 2011 when he came home second to runaway leader Ian Williams. Aside from being part of several of the world’s top campaigns such as the Italian-Argentine TP52 Azzurra Sailing Team, the 2012 52 Super Series winner, for the last year Bruni has been full time with Patrizio Bertelli’s America’s Cup challenger, Luna Rossa.
On board the Italian AC72, Bruni called tactics for helmsman Chris Draper and he expects to be integral to Bertelli’s challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.
The importance of the Tour to America’s Cup teams, Bruni maintains is why he is fielding a Luna Rossa team here in Bermuda. His crew all comes from the Italian AC72 and comprises Spanish 49er gold medallist Xabi Fernandez, British sailor Nick Hutton and Italian Pierluigi de Felice.
“We think it is good to continue, never to stop and to always keep working,” says Bruni. “Match racing is always going to be part of the America’s Cup, regardless of the type of boats its sailed in. Obviously this last America’s Cup didn’t give a lot of opportunity for boat-on-boat, hard match racing skills, but there were still some interesting moments. Obviously the rules were a little different, but boat-on-boat abilities are still rewarded and I think if any kind of boats have similar speeds, then the match racing side becomes important, regardless of if they do 6 knots or 36 knots.”
According to Bruni, they attempted to get a last minute entry to the Argo Group Gold Cup shortly after Luna Rossa was knocked out of the Louis Vuitton Cup finals. “I am very happy to be here and it is always great to be part of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. I am sure that if we go through the first phases it will be a lot easier after that, because things come back. But regardless of the results I think it is going to be a great experience for us. This event has always been one of the best.”
Bruni says that the ancient International One Designs used for the Argo Group Gold Cup have a tendency to even out the field. “Obviously the boats are old and peculiar, very different from any other kind of boats. They are heavy but also their rate of turn - the rudder is small and there is a lot of play in the rudder stock usually.”
They also have spinnaker poles - something Bruni rarely comes across in his other sailing these days. The IOD’s hull shape also means that it has a tendency to roll downwind in any sort of breeze. “A lot of time they start this pendulum thing and that is hard to stop. But they are very, very special boats. When I was doing match racing full time, I usually liked the slow and heavy kind of boats.”
Obviously not so long ago Bruni was sailing a boat that would regularly hit speeds above 40 knots off the breeze and 30 knots upwind. Doesn’t he find the sedate pace of the IODs boring? “Not really. The AC72 is obviously great for speed, but racing-wise if you are a tactician or a sportsman, it more about how close the boats’ performances are, how close the game is. It was too big of a difference in our racing against both Artemis and Team New Zealand. So we have been having as much fun here as we did in the Cup.”
With the slower heavier boats he has more time to think but he says there are a lot more decisions to make. “For example you can do a double tack and you have many other options that weren’t options with the catamaran. So it may be slower but it is still very interesting.”
As regards his future involvement with Luna Rossa, Bruni says he would very much a chance to try out as helmsman. The team’s past skippers have been Chris Draper and for 2007 they had one Jimmy Spithill. “I am happy to cover any role, helmsman, tactician. It is what is best for the team, not what is best for me.”
The fact that Luna Rossa is backing Bruni’s crew to be in Bermuda indicates how much they want to get cracking with the next campaign.
So will Bruni be back on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour in the future? “I want to do it. It is going to depend a lot on if we get a Tour Card or not and it will depend on the team’s plans as well. It is early stages now. I am going to have a clearer idea in a couple of months, but definitely to do the Tour would be something great for the guys.”