© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

AC, the Italian juggernaut looks unstoppable


06/03/2023 - 08:00

Underlining their status as arguably the stand-out Challenger for the 37th America’s Cup, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli today completed a masterclass of a double-session and sent out a very clear signal to the rest of the teams, that they mean business. Jimmy Spithill was back onboard with his Kangaroo-decaled helmet in the starboard pod and whenever Jimmy’s in town, the boat looks to have an added dimension. Tacks were slick, gybes were crisp and the bear-aways around the windward marks in the afternoon sea-breeze were rapid and flat. This is demonstration sailing Italian-style and so confident are the team now in their LEQ12 that mistakes are rare, mishaps fewer. The Italian juggernaut looks unstoppable.

The morning session saw a blistering opening run of some 74 minutes of non-stop foiling whilst just before lunch the team put in another stint at 48 minutes of flight. Remarkable. Over the course of the day, the Italians put in a total of 71 tacks and gybes with an 86% success rate in foil-to-foil or touch & go tacks and an impressive 88% for the gybes. The sailors rotated through the day bringing in Marco Gradoni and Ruggero Tita for some helm time to relieve Jimmy and Francesco Bruni with zero loss in form. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli simply had the pedal to the floor all day long.

Speaking afterwards, Jimmy Spithill was his usual open self and clearly very settled with the team, saying: “We got a great session in the morning with the Mistral, then we came back, had lunch European style, little siesta and then we got out there in the afternoon for the sea-breeze direction…It was a pretty unstable funny day, but it just worked out beautifully on that course area where we got our own little private sea-breeze for a couple hours.”

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

The Italians were mindful of the thunderstorms bubbling all around the hills that tower over Cagliari and the Bay as the last vestiges of what’s been a chilly and unpredictable winter in the northern hemisphere, pass through to hopefully reveal springtime. Temperatures were up at 14 degrees Celsius and when asked about the specific goals and objectives for the day, Jimmy offered: “A bit of everything…I mean it's just every day you go out there’s a change, an upgrade and also we did a lot of rotation, we had a lot of the sailors rotating through the boat so it was good to get some hours, we did a little bit of straight line stuff and then we did some racing around the marks.”

A jib change at lunchtime ahead of the sea breeze was a great call by the team and as Jimmy says: “The hardest thing on days like this is really to pick the jib and a lot of the time you just have to go with what you see but then it can change quickly and that happened a couple of times today but besides that I thought it was pretty impressive day to go out and get a double session like that, so it was a great call.”

And it’s these types of calls that are now happening intuitively that make Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli such a potent force in this America’s Cup cycle. Talking about how the day will be de-briefed by Philippe Presti and the coaching staff, Jimmy said : “Today was really about changing gears given how unstable the weather was, you know with those thunderstorms all around us, and so it was easier to be caught with the jib under range or over range so I think for the sailors we will be focusing on that, just the best way to change gears and we also have some performance stuff which will wait until tomorrow to give the guys the night to go through and post-process it. So yeah, we got a lot of good stuff from today.”

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

Looking at the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team around him and then at the formidable teams working in this Cup cycle, Jimmy gave an accurate summation, saying: “I think we’ve got a great squad here, we've got a really good mix of people, we’ve got a lot youth and some great talent, experience; the design team are a very experienced group, really good culture inside the team, so look we’re really happy with the people we’ve got but we're definitely not discounting any of the other teams because there’s a lot of smart people involved there and at the end of the day you control your own destiny so you do watch other teams but yeah we’re just focussing on our sailing and our testing at the moment.”

Smart team. Smart sailing. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli are coming in fast.


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