Luna Rossa, Final session of foil testing on a near-perfect mistral day

Luna Rossa, Final session of foil testing on a near-perfect mistral day

Luna Rossa, Final session of foil testing on a near-perfect mistral day


28/03/2023 - 13:38

There’s an air of change around Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli as their LEQ12 rolled into the shed for what is expected to be up to a ten-day break as the team brings in the next level of design and systems changes in their quest to win the America’s Cup. There’s also the news that the Italian AC40 will be arriving within the next few weeks and the whole programme looks set to go up another level – from a very high base.

Today it was the final session of A/B foil testing as the team filed through the calibration protocols on a near-perfect mistral day opting for long straight-lines early in the morning to deliver the crucial data and validation that the design team are seeking. As testing sessions go, this was a masterclass with the flight controllers running through a series of cant angles and ride heights, looking absolutely at ease with the LEQ12. Running the beautifully sculpted, long-span anhedral on the port foil arm, the team looked fast especially in the lighter air take-offs at and it would be a wise bet that this is the design direction that the team will follow and develop further.

What emerges from the shed in ten days’ time will be fascinating. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have a history of logical, progressive design as proven in AC36 where they improved round after round to win the Challenger Selection Series and they’ve followed this path through into the LEQ12 programme for AC37. Since launch, the LEQ12 looks to have got faster and faster especially through the manoeuvres with arguably the cleanest tacking angles aligned with outstanding crew co-ordination through the board drops and turn in to the tack. In recent sessions they’ve also been pushing manoeuvres well outside of their comfort zone and today (Saturday) again we saw fast single board turn ups at pace at the leeward gate and much time was spent on the two board down pre-start manoeuvre – critical for when the team get to Vilanova for the first pre-regatta in September 2023.

Much credit for the enhancement of the sailing technique can be claimed by the extensive coaching team that the Italians have hired for this America’s Cup cycle and Jocopo Plazzi, the former 49er ace (sailing with Andrea Tesei) gave a good insight into the team’s development approach saying: “Every team is improving a lot in this month, we can see it from the recon and every team is doing a very good progression on the technical side and testing a bunch of different things and yeah we're looking closely and for sure when we see a good idea on the side we tried to understand why everybody is doing it and then try to do our own.”

Speaking about what proved to be a very valuable day, Jacopo said: “Lovely morning here in Calgary. Light to medium mistral day, which is wonderful, flat water very easy conditions. And the guys did get a very good job today on the water - we did a bit of straight lining in the beginning, a bit of testing and then got into the course, a bit of pre-starts and went a bit around the course practising manoeuvres. It was very good day.”

In total Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had 138 minutes up on the foils and when the team got into short-course sailing the manoeuvre count went stratospheric with 37 tacks and 34 gybes, the vast majority foil-to-foil. Guido Gallinaro, the fast-arriving next generation superstar of Italian sailing and perhaps a key player for the Italian Youth America’s Cup team, got a second ride on the LEQ12 today with the team sailing with six sailors, three on each side, throughout the session. With the team’s AC40 due to arrive in Cagliari soon, Jocopo Plazzi was keen to get started on that programme saying: “We're looking forward to getting our AC40 in the next month. We are looking closely the recon of the other teams and it looks like a very good boat and looking forward to get onto it.”

As for the upgrades coming soon on the LEQ12, Jacopo hinted at what’s coming saying: “Well we will have a have a couple of days in the shed, we have to maintain the boat a bit and yeah possibly something new…”

We look forward to seeing the Italians back out on the Bay of Cagliari soon.

On Water Recon Unit Notes: The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 8:00am, stepped the mast and craned in undergoing the usual protocol checks at the dock. This time several sailors were involved in these routine procedures as well under the guidance of shore crews. As dock-out was scheduled for 9:30am, the main M2 was locked just before the Italian prototype was towed out of the harbour. The forecast promised slightly more breeze compared to what the team faced in the Gulf, which was certainly still pretty solid: flat water with 10-12kn NW.

Shortly after removing from the starboard wing what seemed to be a rope caught during the tow, all sailors seemed to be involved deeply in the hoisting and preparation of the mainsail along with the hoisting of J2. The prototype was towed up by Chase2 and the first foiling stint started with a tack transiting from starboard to portside tack and bearing away afterwards. In the first part of the sailing session straight line sailing for testing seemed to prevail until Chase2 laid out the usual leeward gate and windward mark.

After practicing two starts and sailing two legs, the wind dropped to 7-8 knots in the upper part of the racecourse and the team opted for the J1.5 to keep rounding the marks. During the whole day the LEQ12 hosted 6 crews which swapped position several times including a new entry from the LR youth campaign on the passenger seat. The Recon Unit alternated the RIB position between awaiting at the marks for closer observation of round ups or starts and following the prototype on racecourse. The LEQ12 has been observed spending approximately 15 minutes sailing on two boards trimming up, bearing away and changing tacks several times in open waters.

After practicing this mode, the LEQ12 headed again towards the leeward gate practicing additional starts with time on distance before rounding further the laid marks. The prototype kept on sailing for another stint before Chase2 grabbed the marks and sails have been lowered.

Certainly, another solid sailing day for the Italian team as a total foiling time of 138 minutes, 37 tacks, 34 gybes and a series of marks roundings manoeuvres have been recorded. The team will be working on their LEQ12 for some mods in the shed for the next 10 days.

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