Luna Rossa looks already race ready
Luna Rossa looks already race ready
‘La Maddalena Spiaggia’ is known to kitesurfers and wing-boarders the world over as ‘Petrol Beach’ that serves up near-perfect winds in the spring, summer, and autumn. On Friday, Petrol Beach was the opening venue for foiling of a different kind with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli at pretty much full tilt, rocketing around shadow-boxing testing before the chase boat team laid marks near the Sella de Diavolo across the Bay towards Cagliari, and Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni put the hammer down.
It was full-on race-pace with a premium on slick tacks and gybes and plenty of fast head-up and tacks immediately after the leeward mark – the ‘JK’ as it’s known in America’s Cup parlance. Execution got better and better as the day went on, especially through the tacks where a small sheet-on of the jib was observed just as the windward foil arm is lowered and the helmsman wheels over. With these LEQ12s, the smallest adjustment makes the biggest difference, and the Italians are working so effectively as a unit onboard that they actually are starting to make sailing these high-powered weapons, easy.
Interesting in interview afterwards with Davide Cannata who for this America’s Cup cycle is in charge of Onboard Communications and Electronics having been a sailor on the team’s AC75 in Auckland, as he gave a perspective of just how tricky the comms are, saying: “First of all electronics, salt water and wind don't work really well together so it's always challenging. It was really challenging last time as well, but this time we face the new question mark that we actually weren't thinking about because this boat is tiny and we are always trying to go in a more Formula One setup, the guys onboard are very covered up by the carbon and the radio frequency is very challenging to pass through all these obstacles.”
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has the most recon questions posted by the other teams in this America’s Cup cycle with recent requests wanting photographs specifically looking into the cockpit, another wanting more detailed shots of the jib sheeting system and the ‘Holy Grail’ demand for photos looking inside the double skinned mainsail. One question in December was even posed for photographs of the team’s helmets presumably for that team to try and work out what communications systems the Italians are employing. Whatever it is, the comms between the sailors is proving to be highly effective and in a three and a half hour session on Friday, the Italians covered some 70 nautical miles, ticking off a whole heap of testing boxes.
One run early-on was an astonishing 54 minutes of continuous flight with the team thoroughly testing out their new foil arm stock that was officially declared this week. The Italians are pushing hard through this winter with their developments but more and more we’re seeing the sailors sharpening up their racecraft and putting themselves under pressure on manoeuvres. On this form, they are more than passing the test and with just 20 months to go now before the Challenger Selection Series in Barcelona begins, it’s all-on to try and find the extra percentages to go one better than last time in the America’s Cup.
The stand-out challenger, it was another stand-out day.
On Water Recon Unit Notes: The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team finds again profitable conditions for a productive sailing session within the Gulf of Cagliari with steady lower range N-NW breeze never above 10 knots in the morning and below 14 knots in the early afternoon.
The day at the Ichnusa Dock started at 8:00 when the Italian LEQ12 rolled out of the shed. The yesterday observed markings on suction and pressure sides of the starboard outboard wing and the darker flap portion on the port side outboard, were removed while the team has declared a new version of foil arm stock 02 STB. The boat splashed down at 8:20 and usual checks by shore crew armed with laptops and iPads followed.
The Recon Unit has been focussing on competitors request targeting the cockpit setup and has perhaps found some recon shots of it from square when, quite surprisingly, whole team left the dockside for a meeting leaving the LEQ12 slightly heeled with clearer view. In addition to a portion of wheel, a few turned off displays in front of trimmer seat, several control buttons for trimmer and one red for helmsman, perhaps for board drop and some green lighted bars, perhaps for battery charge indication, were observed.
With the dock-out scheduled at 10:20 the team headed off the coast of Petrol Beach to hoist main+J1 and the LEQ12 was boarded with 4 crew members swapping helmsmen on different occasions in the following hours. Throughout the whole sailing session only one self-take-off against five tow-to-flys by RIB has been observed while the team decided to switch to J2 when the breeze picked up after lunch time during which the GoPros have been polished.
Within the first training half the team seemed to warm up through a series of classic tack and gybe manoeuvres, all executed with longer transitions time on both boards and lifting the windward board up much slower and, sometime in two-time steps with only inboard wing immersed, considering the light breeze. As usual, heading up slightly exiting the gybe before bearing away again and bearing away slightly exiting the tack before heading up again. Before dropping the marks in front of Sella del Diavolo at 12:50, the team started practicing some marks manoeuvres and on the first JK the LEQ12 headed towards the awaiting Recon RIB for a quite close fly-by with Jimmy Spithill on helm, documented by recon sequence shots.
During the sailing session it seemed that the Italian team is clearly focussing on typical marks manoeuvres such as normal bear aways and round ups (approx. 5), JK (approx. 3/4 foil-to-foil), Chicago (approx. 3/5 foil-to-foil), tack bear aways (approx. 2/3 foil-to-foil) and gybe round ups (approx. 1/2 foil-to foil). With a total foiling time of 153 minutes, the LEQ12 covered around 70 nm completing approximately 78 manoeuvres with increasing foil-to-foil success rate.