Luna Rossa boss slams America's Cup catamarans

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — The head of the Italy's Luna Rossa America's Cup syndicate has joined criticism of the decision to race for sailing's greatest prize in giant catamarans, saying the high-tech sailboats are too complex and expensive.

Patricio Bertelli, who is chief executive of the Prada fashion house, says the cost of competing at next year's America's Cup regatta off San Francisco has scared off potential challengers.

Luna Rossa will launch its America's Cup yacht in Auckland on Friday. At a news conference Thursday, Bertelli said the race was becoming too exclusive, noting his syndicate budget for the 2013 regatta was $90 million.

Only three syndicates — from Italy, New Zealand and Sweden — will challenge the U.S. Oracle team for the America's Cup next year.

Cup defender Oracle recently crashed its yacht in San Francisco Bay, sustaining severe damage. Sweden's Artemis is recovering from a recent mishap involving its state-of-the-art winged sail.

Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena said the team that wins the America's Cup next year will be the one keeping its yacht in one piece. That will be challenging because the new Cup catamarans are fast, complex and hard to handle.

"You are going to win the America's Cup by making less mistakes than the other guy," he said.