Luna Rossa: validating the foil data in Cagliari

Luna Rossa: validating the foil data in Cagliari

Luna Rossa: validating the foil data in Cagliari


11/03/2023 - 13:35

If you only get time to see a single sporting video this weekend, make sure it’s the one of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailing their LEQ12 in 25 knots of breeze – you simply won’t see anything better. Out on La Sella del Diavolo, the Devil’s Saddle was serving up a mistral from the northern Gods with some vicious gusts thundering in across what ended up being relatively flat water inshore and perfect for the Italians to show the world just what they’ve got.

Many teams would have looked at the forecast and stayed ashore but these are vital, data gathering days for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli as they seek to validate the foil data that they have gathered to date by switching the anhedral foil over to the port side and the flat T-section elliptical wing to hang off the starboard foil arm. It’s standard engineering practice and the fact that the team could take four days off this week to affect the switch says an awful lot about where Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli are on the development curve. To validate foil design at this stage shows that they are confident in their process, confident in their design and from the looks of the sailing today, it could be speculated that the beautiful starboard anhedral is the avenue they will take for the AC75 that will be signed off in the next few months.

What the anhedral seems to offer upwind is a greater ability to induce windward heel through adjustment to the cant. Even in the upper wind range of this morning’s session, the Italian LEQ12 was rocked over to windward, unbelievably stable but with outrageous pitch control. Devastating to see the team go through the cant sweeps on the port foil but just to confuse, the bear-away on the starboard foil just off the beach was a thing of lateral power and beauty. Big decisions to be taken in short order but the answer is in the numbers for certain and the testing will continue across the wind ranges.

Max Sirena, the figurehead leader of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team gave quite a revealing interview after sailing today, dropping in some hints as to what the team were really up to. Speaking about sailing on a day when many would have stayed ashore and done gym work, Max offered: “…in the last few weeks we sail in not much wind and it was important to go back into the stronger breeze for the sailor, for the boat, and for the designer as well to get data in every condition. I mean like everyone, more or less, in the next couple of months we will make the decision you know was going to look like the big boat and so it's important to be back in the water in a stronger breeze.”

Much scuttlebutt has been speculated about the delivery of the Italian AC40 and Max cleared the air whilst keeping focus on the LEQ12 validation programme saying: “The boat is going to leave China next week, early next week, so it's going to be middle of April (for delivery) and the plan is as soon as we get the boat…to put the boat in the water and check the boat…it is going to be interesting to see a different boat and compare what we have now and so we’re looking forward to see the boat but our main focus at the moment is still our boat (the LEQ12) and that all the development programme is on schedule and we need to stick with that.”

After an hour and 20 minutes of rocketship, knife-edge sailing, and with the waves building in the Bay, the LEQ12 went for a big bear-away at eye-watering speeds that could easily have been in the 50-knot region. The bow started to dig in on an unfortunate waveform and the boat was into a big nose-dive that was the sign to call the ‘big data day’ to a close. Max summed it up beautifully saying: “Well, we were already sailing in more than 23-25 knots so it was the last bear-away of the day, and like always, in the last bear-away everything can happen and we just decided after the bear-away we had a big nose (dive)…and we decided to go back into the dock and do a proper check and make sure the boat is ready to sail in the next couple of days.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) is looking like an even strong mistral in Cagliari but Sunday sees the winds ease and sailing is looking likely. The mighty Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli programme continues and it’s compelling to watch. Now go and see the video… 

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