Luna Rossa pulls out of 33rd America's Cup

MADRID (Reuters) - Italian team Luna Rossa will not challenge for the 33rd America’s Cup bringing to an end one of the most successful and stylish challenges for sailing’s most glamorous prize.

32nd America's Cup challengers Emirates Team New Zealand (R) and Luna Rossa Challenge of Italy race downwind during their final Race 5 at the Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia June 6, 2007. Luna Rossa will not challenge for the 33rd America's Cup bringing to an end one of the most successful and stylish challenges for sailing's most glamorous prize. REUTERS/Heino Kalis

Luna Rossa’s decision, announced on Friday by its main sponsor Prada,is another blow to the Cup after BMW Oracle and Mascalzone Latino challenged the way defender Alinghi has set the rules for the next event and Louis Vuitton withdrew its sponsorship.

“Participation in the next America’s Cup was carefully analysed and, while significant human and financial resources are already available, it was decided that after three campaigns a cycle has come to an end,” the luxury goods group said.

Chief Executive Patrizio Bertelli set up the Prada Challenge in 1997 to challenge Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup in 2000.

The impeccably-dressed Italian team showed they were as much substance as style by sweeping their way through the challenger pack to win the Louis Vuitton Cup but then lost to the Kiwis 5-0 in the America’s Cup match.

They had a much less successful run in 2003 before overhauling the team, bringing in more international faces and making it through to the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger selection series in Valencia this year.

Luna Rossa is the only one of this year’s challengers to announce it is not going to challenge Alinghi for the America’s Cup in Valencia in 2009.

Team New Zealand, Shosholoza and Desafio Espanol have already thrown their hats back into the ring, together with new British syndicate Team Origin.

BMW Oracle has challenged Alinghi but on the condition they change guidelines they have set for the 33 rd America’s Cup, due to be raced in Valencia in 2009.

The U.S. team and Mascalzone Latino argue that some of the Alinghi’s rules give the Swiss an unfair advantage, for example allowing the defender to throw out a challenger at any time and to choose the umpiring teams.