© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

Luna Rossa, ultimate testing day on the LEQ12 boat

Sport

19/05/2023 - 12:46

The ability of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team to extract the absolute maximum from every opportunity on the water was again on show out on an afternoon session in the Bay of Cagliari after the team had waited for the strong Mistral morning conditions to subside. Docking out at almost 3.30pm, the Italians had a clear testing schedule on their LEQ12 that has been some three weeks in the shed undergoing maintenance and upgrades whilst the team got to grips with the AC40.

The Italian focus is very much on the LEQ12, especially as the team are only allowed to run the AC40 in one-design mode, so these sessions are vital for informing the design team as they inch ever so close to making some fundamental and final decisions on their raceboat for AC37 in Barcelona.

The LEQ12 rolled out in blustery conditions that would be a challenge for any shore crew but with weight bags on the mast (clever), the superb onshore operations team had her launched and ready to go by early afternoon. The beautifully sculpted new port foil was laden with cameras today (Wednesday) with all-encompassing mounts to capture both sides of the foils, inside and out, and trained on both the upper and lower sides of the foil. Up on the lower foil arm, a metre or so above the pointed bulb, more cameras were mounted on both sides of the arm and it’s clear that the designers are after maximum validation of this crucial design.

Out on the water in close to perfect conditions of flat water and wind speeds around 13-16 knots, Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill were noticeably pushing through fast bear-aways from windward positions and rapid imaginary roundups to get the maximum flow data over the foils. It was impressive testing, conducted at high speeds over a relatively short period that lasted just over an hour and a half. Everything was concentrated on putting pressure on the foils so tacks and gybes – although executed to almost 100% perfection – were ancillary to the straight-line and rapid alterations of course data gathering.

Speaking afterwards Gilberto Nobili, the Operations Manager for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was pleased with the day saying: “It was like we had the ending of a few days with the Mistral, so we got the end of it, it was a glamour day on the water not much waves and nice breeze. We went back in the water with our LEQ12 and very good, very productive.”

It’s clear that the concentration is on development and refinement of the LEQ12 which has been a fabulous base-line tool for the Italian team all winter and as Gilo confirmed: “We cannot modify the AC40 because we know in the rules, we can only modify one of those boats so the LEQ12 is our development boat, and we keep going on that. The AC40 for sure will be back on the water, we are finalising now the plan for the summer, we need to move to Barcelona with that boat from the 1st of July so we are finalising this day what we are going to do… we have just sailed one day with the AC40 so we need to understand how many people is required to run it, we don't know yet if we're going to split (between the AC40 and LEQ12) or we are going to be a session here and a session there to maximise time and the development time we are sailing. Whatever, we need to understand it more that boat because we are busy productively only one day.”

And talking about the foil development, Gilo and the team are now in a holding pattern waiting to see what other teams reveal as he confirmed: “We need to see what other people are doing because we did a lot of development we launched three wings, some people, some teams, didn't launch much yet and we are very curious to see what other people with their team are going to do before we commit with the last card that we have.”

Interesting times in the America’s Cup from a design perspective with many teams following similar but subtly different approaches in their foil packages. Validating against the simulations is the name of the game now and the Italians certainly look right in this game and are many people’s pick to end up in the Match again against Emirates Team New Zealand. Time will tell but they’re on it.

 

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