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Bertelli, Wright and Lambert join Americas Cup Hall of Fame

by Marcus Hutchinson 1 Jul 2012 07:59 BST 29 June 2012

Patrizio Bertelli - head of four time Italian challenger syndicate the Luna Rossa Challenge, Jonathan Wright - trimmer for five America’s Cup syndicates and Gerard Lambert - member of four defender syndicates between 1930 and 1958, were all inducted to the Herreshoff Marine Museum’s America’s Cup Hall of Fame at a gala dinner at the Marble House Mansion in Newport, RI on Friday night.

Herreshoff Marine Museum Chairman William H. Dyer Jones introduced the first inductee with the following words:
“Under his leadership the team is one of the most dedicated and has endeared itself to the Cup community by being efficient, stylish and always competitive. And as a consequence they have built a massive popular following for the America’s Cup in Italy.”

Owner of the Luna Rossa Challenge and the first Italian to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Patrizio Bertelli spoke of his true pride in joining the other members of this important institution. Bertelli addressed the guests at the dinner when accepting his induction and explained one of his main inspirations for becoming a serial challenger.

« One of the reasons I am happy to challenge again for the America’s Cup is because of a message sent to me by Peter Blake after our first challenge in New Zealand in 2000. He said that it was really important to challenge, and to continue to challenge, and not to stop challenging.”

« We really remember what Peter Blake said and that is why we are challenging for the fourth time now. We have not changed from the first challenge to the fourth. We have not changed our willingness to do our best and we are challenging with the same spirit we had at the beginning. We will certainly try our best in San Francisco next year as well.”

Bertelli was joined at the black tie gala dinner by his wife Miuccia Prada, other members of his family, as well as the sailors of the current Luna Rossa Challenge and shore-based team members that had completed at least two past campaigns with the Italian syndicate.

Jonathan Wright, a member of that infamous group of American sailors that dominated the defender environment for most of 1970s and early 1980s, the stalwart sail trimmer is also one of the very few sailors to have been on the winning side as both Defender and Challenger.

In the days before professionalism in the sport Wright managed the recruitment of the whole sailing team for the successful Stars & Stripes programme in 1986/87 as well as sailing on board. Humble and humerous Wright made the following comments in his acceptance speech:
“When I received the call earlier this year to say I had been selected to the Hall of Fame, my first reaction was ‘Why me?’ This whole thing, it isn’t about me. Its about all the guys I’ve sailed with over the years forward of the traveller, the guys who did all the grunt work for a pat on the back and a T-shirt. I’d like to recognize those guys.”

To have been an active defense syndicate member on so many occasions and to have been instrumental in maintaining strong relations with the challengers over a particularly difficult period in history is the signature mark of Gerard Lambert. His support of the America’s Cup as both owner and diplomat cannot be overstated. To accept the posthumous honor on his behalf was his grandson Gerard Lambert III made these comments:
“I can only really quote what other people have said about my grandfather’s involvement and one particular comment, the 100th birthday party for Olin Stephens, comes to mind as the most poignant occasion. Stephens, with a tear in his eye told me ‘your grandfather was a great yachtsman’. To hear that from Olin Stephens on the occasion of his own centenary brought a tear to my eye too.” Yves Carcelle, President and CEO of Louis Vuitton, the 29-year long supporter of the challenger movement with the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Races, was also recognized this evening by a cross-section of the America’s Cup community that the dinner guests represented, for his company’s long support. He responded by saying:
“Since the 19th century our house has had a strong association with the Cup – in fact we never stop finding links between us everyday. The Louis Vuitton Cup adventure continues towards its 30th anniversary next year and I feel very proud that two luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Prada are in this environment together. We are both fortunate to be able to put back into sailing some of what it gives to us.”

Newport, Rhode Island is currently hosting the final stage of the first annual America’s Cup World Series with AC45 catamaran racing in front of large crowds off Fort Adams.

Marble House, the venue for the induction ceremony, jointly organized by the Herreshoff Marine Museum and Louis Vuitton, is one of Newport’s magnificent mansion houses. In 1983 the Marble House was the setting when the America’s Cup was awarded to the first Challenger to ever win the America’s Cup competition.

The America’s Cup Hall of Fame celebrates the accomplishments of outstanding sailors and innovators by inducting them into the Hall of Fame at extraordinary ceremonies held in exciting venues around the world. These ceremonies are truly notable events, drawing the best and brightest of the sport to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to yachting’s most distinguished competition. (herreshoff.org/achof)

The Herreshoff Marine Museum, located in Bristol, Rhode Island, USA, is a maritime museum dedicated to the history of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, yachting, and the America's Cup. The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company (1878-1945) was most notable for producing sailing yachts, including eight America's Cup defenders, and steam-powered vessels. The museum, situated near Narragansett Bay on the grounds where the manufacturing company once stood, has a collection of over sixty boats including Nathanael Greene Herreshoff's Clara, built in 1887, Harold Vanderbilt's Trivia, and the 1992 IACC yacht, Defiant. (herreshoff.org)

Since 1983 the Louis Vuitton Cup has been the trophy awarded to the winner of the Challenger Selection Series for the America’s Cup.