© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

Luna Rossa stepping up yet another level

Sport

27/01/2023 - 11:02
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A performance of epic proportions, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli showed the America’s Cup world once again that they mean business in this tournament. It was power and poetry wrapped in 45 knots of fire and fury on a blustery Cagliari day that saw the Italian LEQ12 being pushed at full race-pace by a team operating at seemingly another level. Flight was so stable to be almost mesmeric and the 54 tacks and gybes were just effortless demonstrations in foil-to-foil gliding. For good measure the chase boat team threw in some marks and challenged the crew, with the helms rotated through the session, to show razor sharp bear-aways, G-Force inducing round-ups and even a ‘JK’ move (so named after John Kostecki), for good measure.

This was simply brilliant to watch but what the recon units on the water and in their controlled ‘recon square’ dockside captured was the team stepping up yet another level in terms of technology and gadgetry.

The first thing captured were very neat rumble portals on the foils, presumably to measure flow, whilst on the port side foil flap, newly painted-on markers could be seen and a row of what look like holes all along the span.

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup
© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

Meanwhile, inside the cockpit, the Italians had re-fitted the display units and carbon aero fairings in the forward trimmers position which was eliciting much interest from both the sailors and the shore team when they jumped aboard with iPads to run through the data – presumably load data, being captured.

And it was a day for load as a wintery 15 knots whipped up chop on the Bay, sending the Italian LEQ12 at breath-taking speeds. Marco Capitani, the well-known North Sails grand-prix sail designer from the Carasco loft in Italy and an integral part of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sail team gave a fascinating insight into his role when asked by Michele Francesco Melis, a yacht designer himself and now on the Recon Unit, about the tools that they use, the membranes, the panel codes and the RANS software that feeds into the overall design calculations, offsets and response offices that feed into the VPPs, saying: “The North Design suite software is all linked…we use the entire North Sails design suite and so every software programme like Membrain, Flow, Spiral, Desman they are all linked together and they are great tools to monitor or predict what will be the flying shape what will be the loads and…we use this boat to validate our tools.”

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup
© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

“Obviously the sail dimensions for these boats…even the loads are measured for this boat so we apply our scale factor to the AC75 and we have a great tools to predict the loads that we see in this boat and we have good tools to validate what the software in the North Sails Design Suite is giving to us so we can validate that number and so far we are quite happy with the results that we get.”

And when the recon team pushed Marco on an observation that they made around the significant de-powering of the mainsail at the head, a wry smile came over the experienced sailmaker and America’s Cup campaigner before he offered: “You know fortunately we're lucky that you cannot spot inside our two skins so for this area we will keep this hidden a little bit so I will not say nothing about that because we are lucky that you cannot see through it.” Clearly there’s alchemy going on in there, but the recon team will stay on the case.

Flight time in Cagliari was 128 minutes with some long foiling runs towards the 30-minute mark. The data teams will be happy shoreside this evening and a 72 nautical mile day is serious time on the water. It may be cold but there’s real fire in the Italian team at the moment.

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup
© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

They’ll be back tomorrow for more.

On Water Recon Unit Notes: After another break of three days due to lack of wind and bad weather conditions, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli finds again stunning typical Maestrale conditions in the Gulf with some NNW shifts.

The day started at 8:00 when the Italian LEQ12 rolled out during a cloudy freezing morning in Cagliari. Considering the recent focus on the starboard outboard wing, four unique markings were noted which were then photographed and discussed with sailors by the boat captain on board between sailing breaks.

Within a planned future interview with a CFD engineer or foil designer, it will be clarified what exactly has been monitored by GoPros, strips, markings etc. The boat splashed down at 8:20 and usual checks by the shore crew armed with laptops and iPads followed. From the recon square, the Recon Unit noticed the (new-in-January) black carbon shields in front of the foil trimmer seats providing perhaps a bit of aero shelter with below two newly placed digital screens as documented by recon shots. Another observation was a darker portion of the port side flap outboard behind fence on wing leading edge, perhaps painted.

Following the requests by Luna Rossa’s competitors, the Recon Unit is certainly targeting well-hidden details such as the cockpit and jib sheeting system which are shown slightly by daily recon shots due to profitable heeling angle.

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup
© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

After docking out at 10:00 the team headed toward offshore of Sarroch and Capoterra to hoist main +J2 and the LEQ12 was packed with only 4 crew members swapping helmsmen on different occasions in the following hours.

Throughout the whole sailing session no tow-to-fly by RIB has been observed, exclusively 6 self-take-offs with more easy looking & stable transition into foilborne. Observation of several breaks during runs followed by checks by the shore crew & sailors on jib sheeting systems, cockpit and all GoPros on board.

Once again and as suggested by GPS track, the team seemed to alternate between long straight line sailing for testing towards offshore finding more breeze and chop with several series of classic gybes and tacks in which the crew members are really improving their foil-to-foil success rate avoiding any draggy water touch.

On several occasions the prototype has been observed performing radical bear aways & heading ups, both boards down and slowing down significantly just above minimum foiling speed until picking up pace again. At half of session 12:00, the team dropped two marks proceeding with their training and the Recon Unit alternated between awaiting the LEQ12 at marks for closer footage and following it for several legs. On the respective marks, typical manoeuvres have been observed such as normal bear aways, normal round ups, gybe round ups, tack bear aways and a ‘JK’ before calling it a day. With a total foiling time of 124 minutes, the LEQ12 covered approximately 72 nm completing approx. 54 manoeuvres and it is expected to hit the water tomorrow.

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup
© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup
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