America's Cup, sensational Italians
America's Cup, sensational Italians
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli continued their relentless drive for perfection today (Thursday) on their fourth straight session this week in near-perfect conditions out on the Bay of Cagliari and were joined on their imaginary racecourse by competition in the form of 1800 horsepower hanging off the back of their Chase Boat to give the team some pressure or ‘interference’ as Francesco Bruni called it later.
It’s very hard to come away from the Italian recon videos anything but breathless as Bruni and Jimmy Spithill have the pedal to the floor, pushing beyond boundaries to extract performance and enhance technique through these sessions. Tacks are flat and rapid with high exit speeds, gybes are execution perfection with low angles and velocity, and the team’s signature JKs – the double-board rounding of a leeward mark and immediate tack – are things of high wonder, handled masterfully with co-ordination that is other-worldly.
This is a team high on adrenaline and higher on the learning curve than any of the other challengers in the 37th America’s Cup. Day after day they are turning in sailing performances that will have the other teams worried. Their moding seems all encompassing, they can start with wide cant and low-ride and then quickly elevate over waves before hunkering down for speed. Offwind they rarely fly too high, it’s always on the considered side of what mortals would deem ‘crazy’ and hugely effective. Laylines are crisp, bear-aways are supersonic, it’s hard to see any fault or any area of weakness. Devastating to watch.
Speaking afterwards, Francesco ‘Cecco’ Bruni was his usual open, honest and frank self, opening the door to the campaign with the ever-present smile of a man that knows a good day when he sees it. “Well, we did half a day testing, half a day out today around the course. We try to push around the course a little bit more than usual with the Chase Boat - a little bit of Chase Boat action interfering with the boat. It was good we had a good setup, the boat was going well today so yeah it was a very nice day and with the sea breeze here it was perfect intensity, medium breeze between 12 and 15 knots or so and the waves were not too big so pretty easy kind of day.”
Talking about the Chase Boat competition, Cecco revealed that it was an on-the-water call saying: “We were really unprepared, it was just the idea of Jimmy during the day: “why don't we mix it up a bit” - and it was good as the first day but definitely we can do better on ‘interfering’ even more! Today was kind of a first day since a long time doing this and the last thing we want to do is have a an incident between those two boats, so we kept it pretty safe and it was a good balance between pushing the boat and keeping it safe.
The only real incident of the day was right at the beginning when the Grimaldi Hybrid RoRo – one of the service ships that flit around the Mediterranean at alarming speeds and regularity – came thundering past on its way out of the port. The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli LEQ12 met the stern wash side-on and after a bit of rolling, the technicians were down below quickly to check the foil cant system. These boats don’t do side-wash very well.
No harm done, it was a brief interlude to a stunning day that lasted some three and a half hours and gave a very strong indication of just where this team is at in this America’s Cup cycle.
From a recon note, the team spotted the Italian AC40 being prepped dockside and we look forward to the launch and its first commissioning sail early next week. Stay tuned for that.