Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, improving the take-off

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, improving the take-off

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, improving the take-off


13/02/2023 - 16:07

It has been a stunning week for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, sailing in just about every condition on the wind and wave dial and so, determined to make the most of the weekend conditions and to capitalise on some light weather training, the team called for a super-early Sunday morning start to put their stunning LEQ12 platform through its paces.

The concentration now for all teams is fast flight from displacement and gauging the take-off speeds accurately – today the recon unit were able to accurately measure the LEQ12 at 17 knots in 8-9 knots of breeze. It’s a crucial manoeuvre with even more crucial numbers and science attached to it and one that will perhaps see the greatest innovation in this America’s Cup cycle. Fly first and you are in pole position to win – overtaking in foiling monohulls with the huge vortices that the double-skin mainsails generate, particularly in the AC75s, is a very tough call so the premium is high on technique and hardware to ‘pop’ and get first-mover advantage.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli declared a new rudder section and at the roll out, pre-first-light on a chilly Cagliari morning, the most beautiful long-span flat foil section, arcing off the main blade with the slenderest of flattened bulbs is almost certainly designed to aid the transition from displacement. On the water, the Italians were as slick as the new foil design, displaying their customary sailing brilliance over a pre-ordained programme combining high-intensity manoeuvres often over short courses and longer flight to gather the flow data that the engineers and designers will have been demanding on this first outing of the rudder.

Up top, the sailmaking alchemy continues with the Italian LEQ12 now sporting a horizontal batten running just below the yellow Pirelli sponsorship brand which seems to be the key to co-ordinated sail trim right up the mainsail leech. The new clew arrangement, hidden voraciously behind sculpted cloth, is perhaps where the team’s latest and greatest innovation lies – it’s certainly working. Through the tacks, noticeably today in the light, the team were making a point of dropping the traveller almost to the max and then smartly eking it to the centreline to give the boat the drive to stay on the foils. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s sail control is a marvel and even in the light, the leech tension that they are generating and maintaining whilst inducing deep camber in the lower third, is highly impressive and very effective.

Michele Cannoni, the experienced Boat Captain and Shore Manager for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, came to the post-sail interview and gave a good insight into the week’s sailing ahead of a planned break for the team saying: “This week we’ve been able to test in all the conditions, so we started in big breeze and kind of a flat water then we went to big breeze and big waves. Then today we were able to experience light wind manoeuvres with very light conditions. Our main goal today was to try to improve our take-off speed and our take-off technique and do manoeuvres like tacking and foiling gybes in light breeze and we were able to accomplish it.”

And when asked whether the team may be tempted to dust off the AC75 that the team sailed into the America’s Cup Match in Auckland in 2021, Cannoni left the door open saying:  “To be honest I don't think we will, but obviously all the team plans change a bit according to other team’s moves, so we don't know yet what we are going to do…the change that we are going to do now, that will be on our LEQ40 for sure.”

Interesting times in the America’s Cup world – everyone is watching what everyone else is doing. It was ever thus.

On Water Recon Unit Notes: The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team opted for an early rollout at 6:00am to catch the typical winter, light offshore breeze filling in from NW with a max 10-12kn in the early morning and dying just around noon with some rest of SE swell approx. 0.5m with period 7-8s.

On the boat configuration side: a new rudder version was declared for which changes will be detected by shots with more daylight on cradle, the primary mainsail M1 and a newer jib version J1.5 have been hoisted on the day.

The prototype was towed out in the gulf at 8:20 after the usual two hour systems checks by the shore crew. The LEQ12 hosted 4 crew, out of which only the flight controller seemed to rotate. Clearly the sailing session focussed on light breeze performance by means of foiling manoeuvres and take-off capability. The chase boat dropped some marks in the middle of the session and the prototype completed approx. 8 legs.

The Recon Unit alternated between awaiting at marks with binocular observation in distance and following for some legs. A total of approx. 53 manoeuvres out of which 29 tacks and 24 gybes were recorded along with, even if not always successful and on physical marks, some additional rounding manoeuvres such as early gybes, tack bear aways, and round up tacks.

On a few occasions, the team seemed to be trying some reaching modes. Within manoeuvres, longer foil-to-foil transitions have been observed while lifting slower than usually the board, sometimes even in two-time steps at half foil wing. The speed building process bearing away exiting the foiling tack and heading up exiting the foiling gybe seemed longer and a few splash downs exiting manoeuvres were observed. On the take-off front in this light breeze, the transition time appeared to be longer as the team looked for a decent puff to build speed while heeling to windward; out of 7 runs, 3 resulted by self-take-offs and a total foiling time of 113minutes was recorded.


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