By Alexander Smith
MONACO (Reuters) - Patrizio Bertelli intends to ensure that the 36th America's Cup, which is being sponsored by his Italian fashion house Prada, is open to as wide an audience as possible.
"It (sailing) is a very special sport and the America's Cup is a very special event so I think that it's very important that media access is free of charge for viewers and easily accessible to everyone, not just pay per view," the Prada CEO told Reuters.
Speaking after the launch of the Prada Cup, a new trophy which will decide which challenger gets to take on America's Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand in Auckland in March 2021, Bertelli said this meant ensuring global coverage for the event.
In the latest iteration of international sport's oldest trophy, which was first contested in 1851 and won by the American schooner America, high-tech "foiling" 75 foot monohulls will "fly" above the water at speeds approaching 50 knots.
The organisers plan to use the latest video and audio technology to bring the event to life for those ashore.
"Much will depend on communication, which should be as open as possible. It shouldn't be limited to either the internet or traditional television, it should be combination of all media," Bertelli said at the Yacht Club de Monaco.
Bertelli, whose Prada-backed Luna Rosa Challenge team did not compete for the 35th America's Cup which was held in foiling catamarans in Bermuda in 2017, said its involvement had helped get it "back on the right track".
As official "Challenger of Record" to New Zealand, Luna Rossa gets a say in setting the parameters for the event under a so-called Protocol setting out the rules for design and racing.
Prada's 72-year-old CEO has been trying to win the America's Cup, affectionately known as the "Auld Mug", since 1997.
But although Luna Rossa has made an impact both on and off the water, they have never succeeded in lifting sailing's most coveted trophy.
Asked what will ensure his team succeeds this time around, Bertelli, his bushy white hair contrasting with his trademark black-rimmed spectacles replied laughing: "You should never say anything about winning it."
Flanked by his son Lorenzo, who has recently become head of digital communication at Prada and is heir apparent to the business, Bertelli paused to polish the sparkling Marc Newson designed silverware with a handkerchief at the Prada Cup launch.
Newson's projects have included the design of the Apple Watch, Montblanc pens and aircraft interiors and Bertelli said the Australian-born award-winning designer had been an easy choice to put Prada's stamp on its own trophy.
"Design is very much part of our culture, we see design in everything we do, there is no separation or distinction. So when it came to designing the new cup we decided to ask someone we like and appreciate to help us," Bertelli said.
"He (Newson) was very happy to work with us too because he knows our work through the Prada Foundation (in Milan)."
(Editing by Christian Radnedge)