America's Cup, Luna Rossa bump and grind in Cagliari
America's Cup, Luna Rossa bump and grind in Cagliari
Conjure Sardinia in your mind and thoughts of beauty untold, idyllic inlets, glamorous sleepy towns, unimaginable summer searing heat and lazy days on the beach, spring forward. Well today, it was anything but our mind’s eye as Sardinia threw everything at Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli from flat calm to full-on. Many teams would have opted for another day onshore, but the Italians are built differently and with talent to burn in the sailing team, they ventured out.
An initial tow in flat calm waters to find breeze returned the solution that where there was breeze there were waves, so the choice was made to plug into the briny, desperately trying to achieve target speed for take-off and using every trick in the LEQ12 playbook to get there. Several times, both leeward crews were to windward, even hanging off the shrouds to add righting momentum as they plugged into stalling waves before the magic numbers were hit and everyone could return, scampering around the mast, to the relative safety of the pods.
Once in flight, it was a different but very tricky game. Don’t try this at home. The fine line between adding height to clear the waves but keeping low enough to stay in control in the 15 knot gusts was super-hard. Francesco Bruni summed it up well in interview afterwards saying: “It was interesting today with the take-off. It was hard to break the barrier because the boat against the waves was really suffering so we were getting some speed and then the next wave would hit, and it was really hard to breakthrough that speed barrier. And then once we had it going it was all good. So, we had to really use all the crew weight to get going but it's always hard to learn about this because it is a lot smaller boat…the big boat should be different.”
The weather Gods haven’t been kind this week to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli with four days ashore but as always, Francesco was positive, saying: “Deciding when to go sailing is always harder during this Winter/Spring. It’s going to be a lot easier when Spring comes, and the sea breeze kicks in at the right time. Now we're in between the situation of mistral and sea breeze so it is hard to get some good planning but I'm very happy with what we did today, we waited for the wind, we were patient, and then we towed into the wind, and it was a good session.”
Nonetheless it was a short session by the Italian team’s very high standards. A total of 42 minutes flying time was recorded with the sailors opting for longer runs over manoeuvres. Just five tacks and four gybes (mostly successful foil-to-foil) were completed, and the recon team also made an interesting observation that the Italians had switched their foils over on the LEQ12 with the old starboard anhedral foil now attached to the portside foil arm and the flatter span section that used to feature on the starboard side, now hanging off the port foil arm. Clearly this is a well-considered move – everything is with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – and the re-painted outer wing-tips (in red) clearly means they are looking intensely at relative performance. Interesting exercise that sheds perhaps more light on why the team spent four days shoreside.
However, out on the Sella del Diavolo the team were in full-on mode as the conditions built. Learning to sail in swell is something all the teams are focussed on but replicating the venue’s conditions is hard no matter where in the world you try owing to the unique topology around the man-made waterfront in Barcelona. But it’s high on everyone’s mind and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli are no different as Francesco expanded: “When you sail with waves we are always learning because we're always thinking about Barcelona, a wavey area, so we try to push the boat in waves. We know that it's different with a small boat compared to a big boat, so we have to kind of understand how much that kind of wave corresponds but yeah, it's always good learning when we sail with waves.”
The team have their eye on a solid session on Friday ahead of possibly making up for this week’s lost time over the weekend as Francesco said: “for sure tomorrow and then we'll see…” Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli look good no matter what, and today they grinded a good session from bumpy, difficult conditions. Forza Italia!
On Water Recon Unit Notes: The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 9:00am, stepped the mast and craned it in following the usual protocol for on board checks in addition to some structural tests.
It has been observed that the foil wings have been swapped between starboard and portside. Dock-out was delayed to 12:30 awaiting for the sea breeze to fill in the Bay. The team headed just outside the harbour finding glassy conditions and fully hoisted the M1 mainsail with the bigger J1 jib and opted for heading offshore for some miles searching for breeze.
The encountered conditions looked quite different with some decent chop waves and 13-15kn of SSW pressure and hence the team hoisted the J2 instead. The sailing action started with the first of several self-take-offs where the team faced some challenges in the process of building boat speed in wavy conditions with both leeward crew members sitting on windward deck.
Once up and foiling, the flight looked stable at quick pace making it quite hard for RIBs to keep up. As the sea breeze decreased, the team called it a day while planning to sail the upcoming days concluding a short but intense training day with an approx. recorded foiling time of 42 minutes along with 9 manoeuvres out of which 5 tacks and 4 gybes.
Dock out: 1230 Dock-in: 1525
Helms: Ruggero Tita / Marco Gradoni/ Francesco Bruni
Crew: Andrea Tesei / Umberto Molineris / Vittorio Bissaro
Mainsail M1 (MN1-1S): 2 hours 20 minutes
J1 (J1-1-B): 50 minutes
J2 (J2-1-B): 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Tacks: 5 - 4 foil-to-foil, 1 touch & go.
Total Gybes: 4 – 2 foil-to-foil, 2 touch & go.
Wind Strength: 12:50 SSE 4-5kn/ 13:40 SSW 12-14kn AM:18℃ and cloudy. PM: 20° and sunny. Sea State: PM: Choppy 0.5m 5s SSW