In a bid to do its part to protect the health of the world’s ocean, America’s Cup challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has swapped its team uniform from one made from synthetic fibres to a more technical, eco-friendly kit made from Merino wool.
The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailing team was able to make the switch to natural fibres by onboarding The Woolmark Company as the team’s official technical partner, creating a uniform of both on-shore and off-shore apparel made from Merino wool – a 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre.
“The integration of natural and biodegradable fibres such as Merino wool, as opposed to synthetic materials in the fabrics of our uniform, is first and foremost a respectful choice towards the environment,” says skipper Max Sirena.
“Every year tons of microplastics are poured into the sea, putting ecosystems and the entire planet at risk. The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team is committed to reducing the impact of its activities on the environment and at sea by seeking a “reverse course" through its daily actions.”
How Merino wool and Luna Rossa protect the ocean
“People have been wearing wool for hundreds, if not thousands of years,” says skipper Max Sirena. “Wool is a material with extraordinary elasticity and resistance. Thanks to its versatility, it perfectly matches the needs of a team such as ours, where we are used to working in all weather conditions.”
As the world’s oldest fibre, wool is 100% natural, renewable, biodegradable and is the most reused, recycled apparel fibre on the planet. Unlike synthetic fibres, Merino wool does not contribute to microplastic pollution, with wool fibres 100% biodegradable in both land and marine environments and therefore offers the team a natural uniform with reduced environmental impact.
“Furthermore, the choice of choosing a fibre like wool, that is both natural and biodegradable, is also closely tied to our goal of minimising ocean pollution, an issue to which our team is very sensitive.”
The Woolmark-certified uniforms, which the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team and crew will wear during regattas, events and official activities, include a waterproof jacket, a soft-shell jacket, a polo shirt, a wet jacket, a blouson, a T-shirt and a wetsuit and base-layers, all made from Merino wool.
The official sailing team jacket is now available to buy in selected Prada stores across the world, as well as online. The three-layer jacket is made with 54% Merino wool bonded with a waterproof membrane. A unique, high-performance fabric, it is immensely dense but lightweight for extreme water resistance and full breathability.
History of the America’s Cup
1851: THE LEGACY BEGINS
The America’s Cup, the pinnacle of yachting, was first contested in 1851 making it the oldest trophy in international sport, predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years.
1870-1980: AMERICA UNDEFEATED
A 132-year winning stretch saw boats representing America successfully defend the trophy 24 times from 1870 through 1980.
1980: CHALLENGER SERIES
Without a doubt, the America’s Cup is the most difficult trophy in sport to win. In the more than 160 years since that first race off England, only four nations have won. In 1983 the Challenger Selection Series was introduced to develop and identify the strongest possible challenger for the America’s Cup and ensure that they were sufficiently battle-tested through tough competition to beat the Defender.
1983: AUSTRALIA SUCCEEDS
Australia was one of the challenging countries in 1983, and the ‘Men from Down Under’ brought a secret weapon. Australia II sported a boxing Kangaroo flag in the rigging as she was towed out to sea, and under the water, a radically-designed winged keel that gave the 12-Metre Class boat superior speed under most conditions. Australia II became the first successful challenger to lift the trophy from the Americans.
1997: PRADA LAUNCHES CHALLENGE
The Luna Rossa team was created in 1997 by Patrizio Bertelli under the name "Prada Challenge for America's Cup 2000”. At its debut the team immediately won the Challenger Selection Series and went on to challenge the Defender for the America's Cup.
2000: PRADA’S FUTURISTIC UNIFORMS
With understated, futuristic uniforms issued to the sailors on the Prada Challenge, the technical clothing, including custom-made foul-weather gear for heavy-weather days and form-fitting and tri-laminate Lycra-based spray shirts were sported in silver with a distinct red stripe featuring the Prada logo.
2013: LUNA ROSSA CHALLENGER
Luna Rossa subsequently participated in the 2003, 2007 and 2013 editions of America's Cup, qualifying for the final of the Challenger Selection Series three times out of four disputed America's Cup campaigns. The crew’s silver, aerodynamically designed uniforms resembled elegant space suits and visually synced with the beautiful styling of the Luna Rossa boat.
2017: HISTORIC RECORD SURPASSED
In 2017, Luna Rossa launched its sixth challenge in the America's Cup, surpassing Sir Thomas Lipton’s historical record of number of challenges.
2018: UNPRECENDENTED BOAT DESIGN
An exciting new class of boat, the AC75, a foiling monohull, the likes of which had never been seen before was announced along with the title event sponsor Prada, setting the foundations of an exciting event in 2021.
2019: PRADA X WOOLMARK
And just as the technical aspects of the boat have advanced, so too has the sailor’s technical clothing. Tested by the best, the performance benefits of Merino wool will combine with Prada’s iconic aesthetic to give the sailors from Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli the competitive edge.
2020/21: COVID-19 CRISIS
The COVID-19 crisis shifted the 36th America's Cup racing calendar, with new dates as follows:
Transfer of boat to Auckland, New Zealand, October 2020. Races to take place December 17-20, with the last event of the America’s Cup World Series and the Christmas Race, followed by the Prada Cup – the Challenger’s selection race – from January 15 to February 22, 2021, and the final match of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada, from March 6-15, 2021.
Meet the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team
The Luna Rossa team is the most respected team in the America’s Cup fraternity. It is the only team in the history of America’s Cup to have challenged six times. An extremely competitive and well renowned team, Luna Rossa was the winner of the Challengers’ Selection Series in 2000, was a finalist three times out of four challenges and includes some of the world’s highest talented sailors and designers.
THE LUNA ROSSA PRADA CREW
Wool does not contribute to microplastic pollution
As much as 35% of microplastics in the marine environment are fibres from synthetic clothing, an amount that continues to increase. By contrast, science has shown wool readily biodegrades in both land and marine environments, offering a less impactful solution and not contributing to microplastic pollution.
Wind and water resistant wool
Using the latest Optim fibre stretching technology, a 100% Australian Merino wool fabric that is resistant to both wind and rain has been created, delivering a plastic-free, high-performance Merino wool fabric that is ideal for outer-wear apparel.