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Sailing: Italians launch America's Cup yacht, all teams now testing

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The America’s Cup just got “real” for the Italian challengers hoping to face holders Team New Zealand next year as Luna Rossa launched their second-generation AC75 yacht in Auckland on Tuesday.

The launch came just days after American Magic and British challenger INEOS Team UK started trials with their second-generation boats, with the Americans narrowly avoiding a spectacular capsize.

Team New Zealand are due to launch their second-generation foiling monohull in early November.

“Now it is real,” Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena told reporters in Auckland after the yacht was lowered into the water. “I’m really looking forward to going sailing in the next few days.

“It’s already been an amazing adventure that we hope is going to end up in the best way possible over the next few months.”

Sirena added that there had been only a few visible modifications from their first-generation yacht, unlike American Magic and the British challenge, both of whom seemed to have made significant changes to their hulls and keels.

“I think if you come up with something completely new, it means you were not happy with boat one. I think they were pretty happy with boat one,” Sirena said.

“I’m pleased with the result we have now.”

Internally, however, there were significant changes between Luna Rossa’s first and second-generation yachts, he added.

“It’s not just what you see on the outside, it’s what there is inside,” Sirena said.

“Inside this ... boat is a monster.”

The teams have two months of further trials before a regatta in December also involving Team New Zealand.

The challenger series then runs from Jan. 15 to Feb. 22 next year before the America’s Cup match against Team New Zealand begins on March 6.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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