A glimpse of the future with Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni

A glimpse of the future with Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni

A glimpse of the future with Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni


23/02/2023 - 19:24

The America’s Cup is changing at a rapid pace. The transition is well underway and the opportunity for young, talented foiling sensations to come through to the apex of the sport has never been greater. All across the syndicates we are seeing new faces emerging, as the teams seek out the Cup superstars of tomorrow. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have almost certainly found, and are nurturing, two talents that could very well dominate the competition for years to come. Today out on the Bay of Angels in Cagliari we got a glimpse of the future with Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni taking sole charge of the Italian LEQ12 and boy did they impress.

A little bit of background on these two outstanding sailors: Ruggero Tita is very much the golden boy of Italian sailing. Virtually untouchable in the Nacra 17 foiling catamaran class with Caterina Banti in recent years, the duo won the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at a canter and are currently the number one ranked team in the world. Marco Gradoni meanwhile was the first person ever to win three successive Optimist World Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and secured the title of World Sailor of the Year in 2019 as a result – the youngest ever recipient.

Both Tita and Gradoni are the coming generation and exactly what the America’s Cup organisers had in mind when they introduced the AC40 and dedicated events for Youth and Women. However, so good are the duo proving that they are a serious challenge to the established helms and this generation will move through the ranks fast in an America’s Cup world that rarely stands still.

Today, they had the LEQ12 performing beautifully, balletically almost, as they pushed through the most difficult manoeuvres to refine technique. Notable was the port tack layline entry to the top mark followed by the tack and rapid-fire bear-away around the mark – undoubtedly the hardest manoeuvre to pull off at a windward mark…and get away with.

A glimpse of the future with Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni

The Italians made it look a cinch and with excellent foil drop co-ordination, nailed it time and time again.

Down at the leeward mark, the team were throwing in round-ups and immediate tacks with absolute precision, keeping the drive on the foils through the tack and maximising the acceleration away. Wonderful to watch. Again the drag technique of keeping the old windward board down with the lower foil just in the water post tack before the full raise was on perfect display and the team looked slick and ‘on it’ all afternoon on a session that lasted just under three hours.

Conditions were certainly not ideal. The waves were in, and the wind was in that transition zone where flight has to be worked at to be achieved. Umberto Molineris, a graduate of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli ‘New Generation’ programme himself was onboard as a flight controller and trimmer today and looked more than pleased with what the team accomplished on the water saying: “Actually it was a really good day with a slightly less wind than yesterday but good waves with chop which for sure it's nice to have some conditions which are a bit more tricky to sail so we can get a bit more used to waves.”

Talking about the tricky waveform, Umberto added: “Compared to the last month with the Mistral that we had, it's another job as for a dinghies or other boats, waves play a big difference in the matter of handling the boat and as we said before we just need to get more used to them and trained up to (probably) Barcelona conditions.”

On this form, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli are looking mighty with a deep pool of outstanding talent to draw on. Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni – remember those names, they might just have a very big part to play in the America’s Cup in Barcelona in September 2024.

On Water Recon Unit Notes: The LRPP team rolled out their LEQ12 at 11:30 awaiting for the fog to pass with rising SE sea breeze. After stepping the mast and proceeding with the usual checks, the prototype was craned in at 11:50 and dock out was scheduled at 13:30.

A glimpse of the future with Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni


By then the team headed just outside of the Cagliari harbour to hoist the usual mainsail with a J1 jib. Conditions looked promising with steady SE sea breeze of 9-11 knots and choppy sea state. On the boat configuration front, no significant changes were observed compared to previous day.

The LEQ12 hosted 4 crew and only flight controllers were swapping. Actual sailing started shortly after 14:00 when the crew spent approx. 10 minutes looking for a take-off without success and LEQ12 was back on the tow line by RIB which had been dropping some marks in the meantime.

After several checks below deck for a speculative issue, the LEQ12 was finally towed up and began foiling while the focus seemed on the execution of radical bear aways and heading ups before actually heading to the racecourse. The LEQ12 completed 6 legs, 3 upwind and 3 downwind while the Recon Unit alternated between awaiting at marks with binocular observation in distance and following for some legs.

Foiling time of 72 minutes, a total of approx. 27 manoeuvres out of which 11 tacks and 16 gybes were recorded along with some additional rounding manoeuvres such as classic round ups bearing away or heading up, early gybes, tack bear aways, and round up tacks. [Michele Melis AC-Recon]

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