© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

Luna Rossa back in Cagliari and greeted by perfect conditions


22/02/2023 - 15:42

After a scheduled maintenance break for a week, the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team assembled back in Cagliari to be greeted by perfect conditions that more than blew the cobwebs away out on the Bay of Angels. As Spring gets sprung in Southern Europe, the mercury hit 16 degrees Celsius in the late afternoon and the breeze built steadily from the south-east offering the Italians a sublime training session where they had the pedal to the floor as if they had never been away.

The team’s LEQ12 was thoroughly put through its paces at high speed with some dynamite board control. Interesting to see that the Italians seem to have perfected a technique of holding the windward foil in the water post tack with just the bottom part of the foil staying in the water before the final raise to the fully extended position to windward. This appears to give a better turning motion through the tack and then as the board is raised, the righting momentum that it offers at full extension, appears to induce the customary windward heel giving the boat maximum power out of the tack. It’s devastating to watch at high speed.

Midway through the session, the Chase Boat team threw down some marker buoys to give the LEQ12 something to aim at and Francesco Bruni, Ruggera Tita and Marco Gradoni took the intensity up another level, absolutely nailing the angles and then performing extremely fast bear-aways at the top mark with the flight controllers right on the limit, bringing the hull high on the foils at full, breathtaking acceleration. The on-water Recon Unit were positioned on the course and noted a nose-dive at the leeward mark that almost capsized the yacht, but a decent recovery saved the day and the team just kept on pushing.

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

Once again onboard pre-flight, a ballast man could be seen crossing to the windward pods to aid acceleration and take the pressure off the leeward foil before precariously dancing around the mast back to the safety of his leeward pod as the LEQ12 hit target speed. It isn’t pretty, it’s not a job for the feint-hearted, but it’s highly effective in these little foilers.

Martin Jacoby, the CFD Specialist Engineer for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was interviewed after a very entertaining sailing session and confirmed that few changes had been made to the set-up of the Italian LEQ12 in the past week, saying: “Last week was a week of maintenance, and this was a sailing day to do some checks that everything is doing good and that was the case, and we are very happy with that.” Asked about the new markers on the port side foil and possible changes to the foil identified by the Recon Team, Jacoby commented: “No, we were just doing some maintenance there and taking a better understanding of how the foil works and the flow behaviour.”

With regards the ubiquitous cameras positioned on the foils in recent sessions, the Italian CFD specialist hinted at the ability to replay against sailor feedback and simulation software with the benefit of seeing: “just how the foil goes through the water and if we see something we can check it on the recordings.”

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s campaign continues in earnest this week and judging by their performance today, this is a team to really watch in this America’s Cup cycle. Michele Melis, the on-water Recon guru summed it up beautifully today saying: “they look quicker each day out on the Gulf.” He’s not wrong.

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