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Bruni training with Artemis Racing

Sparring partners: Oracle and Artemis in the Great Sound

Seasoned America’s Cup campaigner Francesco Bruni is in Bermuda sailing with Swedish challenger Artemis Racing, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

Bruni was among Artemis’s crew that sparred with Oracle Team USA, defender of the “Auld Mug”, in the team’s wing-sail foiling AC45 development catamaran in the Great Sound yesterday.

There is growing speculation that Bruni has parted ways with Luna Rossa, the Italian team, and joined Artemis on a full-time basis.

However, David Tyler, Artemis Racing’s spokesman, dismissed that suggestion.

“Francesco has been invited to train with us but there’s no formal relationship at all,” Tyler said. “He’s just been invited to come in and train with us for the rest of the week.”

Bruni served as a tactician on Luna Rossa at the previous America’s Cup in San Francisco, and his services had been retained for the next instalment of the “Auld Mug’”to be held in Bermuda in 2017.

However, the multiple world, European and Italian champion has been left in limbo following the withdrawal of Luna Rossa from the next America’s Cup.

Luna Rossa, backed by fashion house Prada, followed through on their threat to pull out in protest of a controversial amendment to the class rule, that reduced the size of the catamarans for the next America’s Cup from 62ft to 48ft.

The America’s Cup class rules could be changed only by unanimous consent, but Oracle Team USA led an amendment to change the class rule to a majority vote — a process the Italians deemed as “unprecedented” and “illegitimate”.

It is the first time in America’s Cup history that the class rule has been revised in midstream, and 48-footers will be the smallest boats to be used in the event’s history.

Bruni has been involved in three America’s Cup campaigns with Luna Rossa and has competed in as many Olympic Games.

In 2010 Bruni made his debut on the World Match Racing Tour and achieved his first victory at that level a year later at the Match Race Germany.

His only other win on the Tour arrived at the 2013 Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda where he beat Sir Ben Ainslie to become the first Italian skipper to lift the King Edward VII Gold Cup — the oldest match racing trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts.

The closest Bruni has come to winning the World Match Tour Championship was in 2011 when he finished second behind England’s Ian Williams, who is also a past Gold Cup winner, and topped the ISAF Match Race world rankings that same year.

<p>Barker to skipper Japan team</p>

Dean Barker, the former Emirates Team New Zealand skipper has been named skipper and CEO of America’s Cup challenger SoftBank Team Japan.

Barker was forced out earlier this year as skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, who blew an 8-1 lead in the 2013 America’s Cup and lost 9-8 to Oracle Team USA.

Barker called the appointment “an incredible opportunity to build a new team from the ground up.”

SoftBank Team Japan is a late entry for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda.

Barker has sailed in four America’s Cup matches, all for his native New Zealand. As Russell Coutts’ understudy, he steered Team New Zealand to the fifth and clinching race in the 2000 match against Italy’s Luna Rossa. He was skipper when the Kiwis lost in 2003, 2007 and 2013.