Pirelli Puts its Money on Luna Rossa

Former partner of the current America's Cup defender allies with Italy's Challenger of Record for the next edition.

Pirelli
Pirelli entered the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda as a last-minute sponsor of the Italian-backed Emirates Team New Zealand, adorning the teams hulls and rudders with its iconic branding.Dave Reed/Sailing World

Pirelli, the international tire company with headquarters in Milan, Italy, is more widely associated on the competitive front with the Formula 1 automotive racing world but appeared in the America's Cup sponsor stratosphere shortly before the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda, where it came to the aid of Emirates Team New Zealand. Overnight, the iconic red-and-yellow signage of the Chinese-owned company appeared on the red and black hulls and rudders of the eventual Cup winners.

At the time, Pirelli’s CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera, who once campaigned a Wally superyacht, said “the sponsorship of Emirates Team New Zealand adds to the already rich portfolio of high-profile sporting collaborations...with the goal of strengthening the brand’s positioning at the high end of the market.”

Having succeeded in wresting the Cup from Oracle Racing Team USA in Bermuda, Provera is now putting support behind the red, white and green. In a statement released today by the America’s Cup’s Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa Challenge, Provera said, “Pirelli chose to be a part of this project because it represents both a sporting and technological challenge, able to bring Italy and the Pirelli brand to the attention of the entire world. The America’s Cup, as Formula 1 is to motorsport, is the most prestigious sailing competition, with a great history and tradition. It embodies values and is for a public of impassioned fans that perfectly match Pirelli’s, enabling the company to continue enriching its brand, reinforcing its positioning in high technology with clients around the world and its relationship with consumers through traditional channels and all the new digital platforms.”

Pirelli, which was sold to ChemChina, a state-owned Chinese company in 2015, is ranked 167th on the Fortune Global 500 list and claims to be China’s largest chemical company, which may have implications for a future Asia-based Cup-related event. Pirelli Media Relations declined to provide further details of the sponsorship beyond the announcement, which reads as follows:

Pirelli has signed an agreement with Luna Rossa Challenge for the constitution of a partnership aimed at the development of a multi-year project which will lead to Luna Rossa’s participation in the next edition of the America’s Cup, set for New Zealand in 2021.

Pirelli and Prada will be co-titled sponsors of the vessel and will detail their plans at a soon to be organized event.

Now in its 36th edition, the America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in the history of sport, which sees the participation of the most technologically advanced boats in the world.

The project will entail, over the 4-year period 2018-2021, a series of regattas, events and activities with the two brands as protagonists. In 2019, the first two regattas of the America’s Cup World Series will take place in the Mediterranean; in 2020 another three World Series regattas will be held in Europe, the United States of America and Asia; from January 2021, always in Auckland, there will be the Prada Cup, Challenger selection regattas, followed by the 36th edition of the America’s Cup Presented by Prada, scheduled for March 2021.

This will be Luna Rossa’s fifth tilt at the Trophy and in this edition, it will be the Challenger of Record, that is, the first challenger of the last edition’s winning team, Emirates Team New Zealand.

Patrizio Bertelli, Chairman of Luna Rossa Challenge, said “Pirelli is the ideal partner for this new America’s Cup challenge. With over half a century’s experience at the highest levels of high technology world sports, it will be an important asset at the heart of our project. In this sense it is correct to speak of a real and true collaboration between the Team and Pirelli.”