© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

© Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

America’s Cup: Chase Boat training for Luna Rossa


27/05/2023 - 11:44

When you have one of the world’s elite coaches in your team, it’s no surprise as a sailor to find yourself pushed way outside of your comfort zone. Yesterday out on the Bay of Cagliari, Philippe Presti who’s CV reads two Olympic Games, a couple of Finn Gold Cups, the 2007 America’s Cup with Luna Rossa and two further Cups with the Americans, had the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team on edge using the Chase Boat as competition with Shannon Falcone driving it hard.

The benefits of this type of race training are immense as it forces the sailors to make tough choices boat-on-boat and forces quick-fire decision making in real-time. The simulator work that all the teams complete shoreside is intense but boat-on-boat requires levels of co-ordination and communication amidst natural variations of wind and waves that are hard to replicate in the computer. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli are more than familiar with this type of training and used it to very good effect in AC36 as they showed remarkable improvement round after round eventually scoring well in the America’s Cup Match itself.

Wednesday’s session in Cagliari was fast and furious with almost perfect conditions of 11-12 knots and a challenging sea-state similar to what the team can expect in Barcelona. After some data gathering runs early in the afternoon session, Philippe Presti ordered a short course to be laid and a pre-start box to push the team at race pace with the ‘Chase Cat’ acting as a rather powerful and manoeuvrable opposition.

Talking about the session afterwards he commented: “The big difference is you don't have the wind shadow of the Chase Cat but you have the propeller wake and the foils are not very happy into this white water behind the boat, so that's a little bit the downside, but the rest of it you know we try to simulate races and encourage the communication on board and make decisions, have plans, you know, business as usual.”

That ‘business as usual’ was interesting to observe with the Italians showing masterful control over the LEQ12. Umberto Molineris and Vittorio Bissaro, the ever-present Flight Controllers, were doing a stellar job maintaining flight and pitch control in a tricky sea-state whilst Jimmy Spithill, Marco Gradoni and Francesco Bruni threw Luna Rossa through some epic manoeuvres dodging and joshing with the Chase Cat.

A collision at the kinds of speeds the LEQ12 develops would be catastrophic but Philippe is more than confident in his Chase Boat team saying: “We have a lot of power you know, we have Shannon who is driving the boat and is doing good job and we tried not to hit the boat - that's the main focus - trying not to end the day with a bad mood and no yeah we have a lot of fun around who will win the race, I think it's a great tool.”

With six people onboard today throughout the session and the helms swapping in and out, it was a hugely productive session. The new starboard foil appears highly manoeuvrable and a recon shot of the LEQ12 sailing head-on upwind certainly showed that it’s not giving up much in terms of leeway with the sailors able to sail in a very high mode when eking up to a windward mark. Off the wind, Luna Rossa looked stable in flight and bear-aways were flat and fast – very much the trademark of this team.

A solid testing session for the Italians who are looking tantalising in this America’s Cup cycle with big hours on the water completed and a real air of confidence around the team that are many people’s pick to make it to the Match in Barcelona come October 2024. No sailing on Thursday, the team have Saturday and Sunday scheduled as potential sailing days, weather permitting.  

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