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A day with the Luna Rossa team

Just over a year to go and the moment of truth will finally be here: in January 2021, four of the world's best sailing teams will battle it out in the waters of Auckland in the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series, the competition that will determine which crew will have the honour of challenging the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand in the 36th America's Cup. These will include Luna Rossa, Challenger of Record, who, together with the champions, has drawn up the new, spectacular class rule which, in the organisers' intentions, should bring the sailing world into contact with the general public.
A world - particularly the America's Cup racing world - that has long been reserved for a niche of enthusiasts and has always been very difficult to understand for those who approach it superficially. And yet, just take a moment to discover a truly incredible reality, marked by constant technological development and a daily commitment that few athletes could bear. A sailor in the 21st century, who wants to establish himself or herself in this world, conquering what has been the most coveted trophy for over a century and a half, must be an all-round sportsman, extraordinarily complete from a physical and mental point of view. Only those in possession of these qualities can hope to raise the America's Cup to the skies, today more than ever a symbol of excellence, commitment and dedication.
To find out, after all, just have a chat with the members of the team set up by Patrizio Bertelli, who for over a year and a half have been preparing for the 2021 races with a course that does not allow breaks or missteps, marked by constant goals and deadlines, limits that must be set, reached, exceeded and set again, even further. A tight march, a continuous race against time with the awareness that, somewhere else in the world, other athletes are doing the same, and that, at the decisive moment, every choice, every delay, every possible mistake could make the difference between success and failure.

America's cup sailor Gilberto Nobili at next Technogym Talk

Gilberto Nobili, aka Gillo, was a team member of Luna Rossa in 2003 and 2007 in the role of grinder. He then went on, as sailor and systems performance specialist, to win the America’s Cup editions of 2010 and 2013 with team Oracle and in 2017 with Emirates Team New Zealand.
Gillo has also competed in several international events onboard TP52s, Maxi yachts and Extreme40s and sailed for four years (2004-2008) in the Star class with Francesco Bruni.
The 36th edition was his sixth America's Cup campaign.

Gilberto Nobili will be the star of the next digital event part of the series Technogym Talks, where he will cover the topic "The training secrets of a world class sailing team".
The Technogym talks are a cycle of exclusive webinars run by experts in the health, fitness and sport worlds brought to you to share their knowledge and experience.
On the Technogym Talk, taking place on May 5th 2021, thanks to Gillo’s unique experience in multiple Americas Cup competitions we will have the chance to learn about how a successful team is built, from crew selection to athletic training and performance.

Sign up to the event

The Luna Rossa team's typical day

It starts at 7.30 am, with a training session in the gym that includes specific preparation depending on the role held in the boat. Taking advantage of the machinery provided by the official partner Technogym, in some cases built specifically to recreate those used on board the boat, the crew members face an hour and a half of very intense preparation, which is essential to give the best start to a day that can be spent on land or at sea, but which, in any case, will be extremely demanding, as Pietro Sibello tells us.
In the gym the goal is always to reach the maximum effort, the best possible performance. It requires 100% energy and is definitely the most tiring moment of the day. After a nice breakfast, if it's a day out at sea, everything is aimed at preparing the boat and planning the training in the water. Each sailor has a specific area of expertise, so there are those who take care of the sails, those of mechanics, those of hydraulics. Once the boat is ready, after passing the tests, navigation begins, which in this period covers the whole day.
Sibello, a European and 3 bronze in class 49er, sailor of the year in 2010, is one of the many important names that make up the crew of Luna Rossa. And it is no coincidence if, called to tell a typical day of the team, he decides to do so by describing the one that involves commitment at sea, the so-called sailing session. Water is life for men like him, a passion that allows him to endure the many sacrifices that an America's Cup campaign requires. It is necessary to check all the functions, tackle and solve all the problems that can come up, if the wind is good it is essential to make the most of all day to collect as much data as possible.

When we go in the water, we make much more effort, especially the grinders, for a longer period than when we stay ashore. When we come back it's hard to do all we need to do to finish the day.

When they return to the base, in fact, the long debriefing phase begins, which includes all the operations necessary to get the boat in place and a meeting where each crew member assesses its performance, summarizing the things that went well and those that went badly during that outing, and indicating the points on which it is necessary to work in view of the next one.

The effort is a lot, but there is no doubt that, for all of us who love sailing, going on the water, especially with such a boat, is also passion, the most beautiful moment. When this doesn't happen, on maintenance days or when the weather doesn't allow it, we miss it a lot. We reluctantly accept the fact that the boat has to stop, and we can't wait to get back out to sea.

Sailing sessions, in fact, cannot be the rule for too many days in a row. While it is essential to carry out tests at sea, which are useful to study the performance of the boat and the team in a real and stressful context, it is equally important to provide the development team with the right feedback and then give them time to make the necessary changes.

A process to which, moreover, also the sailors themselves contribute, who, during the long days on land, at the base of Cagliari, after breakfast, work in the departments to which they have been assigned according to their specific knowledge. Being far from one's natural element can be difficult to digest and can also create inevitable stressful situations: it is still Sibello who reveals some fundamental moments to overcome them in the best possible way, in which the presence of men with proven experience in this type of commitment is also crucial.

A fundamental moment of recreation is the coffee break: it takes place with colleagues in the department, helps to relax and, at the same time, given its informal dimension, allows an exchange of ideas that often cannot be expressed in the same way during meetings. It is a very constructive moment and allows the birth of important things. On a general level, however, a fundamental figure in Luna Rossa's adventure is Vasco Vascotto. His presence is very important on a technical and strategic level, of course, but his qualities on a human level should not be underestimated: with his experience he constantly manages to keep the mood high and make sure that everyone works with joy and enthusiasm.
If the young members of the New Generation have brought enthusiasm and a greater familiarity with the most modern technological systems, in fact, it goes without saying that in a group subjected to such stressful commitments, the presence of those who have already passed through certain situations is fundamental. Like Vascotto and Max Sirena, the skipper, whom Pierluigi "Pigi" De Felice indicates as the natural leader of a team that, in the moments that count, must know how to move as one man.

In every campaign, difficult moments of discouragement are inevitable. In those moments it is fundamental the experience of our skipper, Max, who is good at managing many different heads and keeping the group always united towards the common goal.

In his fifth America's Cup campaign, De Felice is one of the many experienced men in the Luna Rossa team, which he has been part of since 2012 after his two experiences with Mascalzone Latino. A sailor for as long as he can remember, he distinguished himself by sailing with Francesco Bruni, who he then decided to follow in the adventure, marked Prada.

Looking ahead to 2021, De Felice is certainly not afraid of the Defender New Zealand, to which, after all, the most beautiful memories of his sailing career were linked. The victory of the Louis Vuitton Trophy in 2009, in fact, was followed by the entry into the team of Luna Rossa and the decisive contribution to the victory of the World Series 2012/2013 in Naples, his hometown, unexpected and arrived at the end of a real battle against time.

On my typical day, a fixed presence is definitely the gym! My family has stayed in New Zealand because I have two young daughters of just 10 and 7 years old and my wife is back at university. When I'm here I'm alone and I'm 100% committed to the challenge. At 6.15 I get up, then I go to practice. The session starts at 7.30, but I usually start to warm up already around 7. We prefer to go out on the boat whenever possible, but when that doesn't happen, in my free time I dedicate myself to moth, a small boat that sails with the same principles as the AC75 class foils and allows me to improve and detach with my head at the same time.

The grinder De Felice certainly doesn't back down when there is work to be done on the handles, and he never misses the evening gym session, which is only scheduled on land and useless in sailing sessions, when the physical effort sustained by the team during the day is decidedly greater.

On the water the team members are in the environment they love most, and in this case even the effort - the effort made during a race is comparable to that sustained by a marathon runner - takes second place.

Whatever type of day you're facing, the evening is the time when every member of the team has the chance to get away for a few hours: there are those who play ping pong, those who dedicate themselves to family and those who, perhaps, relax listening to music. It's impossible, however, for men who live their work with so much passion, to disconnect completely. Thoughts can only turn to the America's Cup, that silver jug that for almost two centuries has pushed the best sailors in the world beyond their limits, in search of myth. Put aside the mad rhythms of the present, here are the past and future, regrets and expectations. Among the first, the biggest, according to Pietro Sibello, is the retreat in the last campaign, which came after the sudden change of class rules and after months and months of hard work.
Better to look to the future then, to Auckland and to a challenge in which Luna Rossa is called to be the protagonist, as imposed by the role of Challenger of Record. That will be the moment of truth, the opportunity to see the long months of sacrifice and commitment paid off. Like the rest of the crew, De Felice is not hiding, and admits that he is always competing to win, even when it seems so difficult. A goal, of course, shared by Sibello.

In this campaign I see a beautiful union of the whole team, a merit that I feel I recognize to Max and Gillo (Massimiliano Sirena and Gilberto Nobili ed) and that I think also depends on the fact that the team is largely Italian, which naturally leads to make the team more easily. The foreigners represent something more and they have to be there, but, in my opinion, this composition helps not to lose the Italian identity thread of Luna Rossa.

What do I expect from Auckland? All the teams in the race are aiming for victory, and this is, of course, also our thinking and our goal. We have everything we need to succeed.

It's nightfall that closes the curtain on a busy day, which could be devastating for a neophyte, but for the men of the Luna Rossa team, that's the rule. A few hours of well-deserved rest and then everything will start again, with the aim of arriving in the best possible way in Auckland, ready to pursue a dream that could finally become reality.

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