Luna Rossa back in Cagliari – Barcelona sparkling

Luna Rossa back in Cagliari – Barcelona sparkling

Luna Rossa back in Cagliari – Barcelona sparkling


20/07/2023 - 06:55

Max Sirena, Team Principal of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli called it a ‘kind of new boat’ but the Italians looked more than happy to be back in Cagliari on Tuesday and out on their beautiful LEQ12 that has given them so much data and proven to be the perfect test-platform prototype for their new AC75 that has just gone into build. The focus now is, as Max says: “sails, wings, systems and playbooks,” the ultimate variables of the foiling generation monohulls and where minute changes make the biggest differences.

Interesting to note that Luna Rossa today sported a return to the anhedral foil on the port side, ditching the flat-section base-case T-foil which is perhaps more ‘unfinished business’ and the chance for the team to have another look ahead of the final design of their fourth wing that will be close to production and very much the last card to play. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have been early and ahead on wing and foil design in this Cup cycle, to the credit of their design team and the overall programme, using the winter camp effectively and showing serious pace and promise throughout the iterations. The end of the road is near now for that programme but there’s an air of supreme confidence around the Italians that they have found exactly what they were looking for.

It was a short session today, more a shakedown for the sailors to get used to a myriad of new control thinking onboard the LEQ12 but also perhaps to get used to a much deeper footed mainsail that they were running today. In some of the best recon footage taken to date (you have to watch it), the close-ups really show the mast rotation working effectively with the traveller system and when the boat was flying on port tack on the more sculpted ‘Wing 03’ on the starboard arm, the ability for the flight Controllers to dial lower to the surface of the water upwind was noticeable – It will be interesting to see how they run the port ‘Wing 02’ (the anhedral) in upcoming sessions. Marco Gradoni and Francesco Bruni were throwing the LEQ12 around like a toy over some pre-start practicing and all-over they were a joy to watch out on the Bay of Cagliari.

Speaking afterwards, Max summed the day up saying: “The guys did a pretty good, intense day on the water and so it was a good exercise and to be back here in the water after a few weeks with a kind of ‘new boat’ was a great shakedown today. We had a lot of new stuff on the yacht, most of them are invisible as obviously they are not out of the water, and so it was good to be back…this is a little bit more like our machine where we're doing all the development and so we're looking forward for the next couple of days before the second session in Barcelona at the beginning of August.”

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will in effect be doing two weeks at the beginning of every month through the mandated period to October on their LEQ12 which will be fully recon’d and reported here whilst all of the team’s training when they are just sailing an AC40 in one design is not covered by recon as per the agreed amendment to the Protocol.

Whilst the Italians blasted around Cagliari, back in Barcelona it was business as usual with Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi Red Bull Racing both out on their AC75s whilst NYYC American Magic had a stellar day of two boat race practice in the AC40 and AC40 LEQ12.

Luna Rossa back in Cagliari – Barcelona sparkling
Luna Rossa back in Cagliari – Barcelona sparkling

Headlining the day, once again were the Kiwis, who showed devastating form and are quickly gaining the reputation for showcasing ultimate ‘low riding’ with Te Rehutai skimming just inches off the waterline not just in a straight-line but through tacks and gybes too. Very good analysis below from the recon team on the process the Kiwis go through a gybe but visually they look like they are skating so close to disaster and splash down but in effect are pulling off the most powerful manoeuvres we’ve seen both in this Cup cycle and the last. This is technique sailing of the very highest order and on a day when they completed 72 tacks and 63 gybes and only touch and go’d twice whilst all others were foil-to-foil – this was a masterclass that will send frighteners around the Cup community. Emirates Team New Zealand mean business and the level that the Challenger will need to get to, to beat them, is getting higher and higher.

Josh Junior came to the recon interview and summed the day up accurately saying: “It was just beautiful conditions here in Barcelona, sort of 12 knots, it was actually a pretty flat sea state and we were just having a good time ripping around the beach off Barcelona here so for us it was great, we got a lot of manoeuvres in and we were just really enjoying sailing out there on the water, it's just glamour conditions…we always trying to improve our manoeuvres and there's a lot of people on the boat that needs coordinate to get a good manoeuvre, but yeah we just keep trying to push ourselves and keep trying to do things better but nothing much has really changed.” Ominous.

For the Swiss, these are interesting times with plenty of technology coming onstream including cooling system heat exchanges for the electronics below and a huge concentration on the new traveller set-up that, quite rightly, they are doing their best to keep away from the cameras. Gautier Sergent, the genius aero lead of Alinghi Red Bull Racing confirmed the development work saying: “There's no secret that the traveller is kind of the primary control for the stability of the boat so we try to eke out any sort of savings we can out of that so I think nothing super special just trying to get a few more percentages.” And talking about how the team are trimming and how they’re hooking up all the mast rotation, traveller and jib controls, Gautier commented: “We experiment you know on everything, I mean the guys would have a way of trimming and then we tried new ways and to be a bit more synchronised or we are just exploring. These boats are super sensitive to fine tuning, fine balance, so we're looking at every way to improve that.”

Alinghi Red Bull Racing looked the real deal out on the water today, something that will not have gone un-noticed around the Port Vell. Only a couple of splashdowns and a big nose-dive offwind blotted their record and damaged the wind wand on the bow on what was otherwise arguably their most productive day to date. Gautier Sergent made an interesting comment afterwards saying: “It’s still early and we're doing as well as (we can). You know that this boat is not in AC37 configuration and all the boats, so what we're doing is a lot to validate the (simulation) model.

It is sometimes hard when to measure the actual differences on the water but if we can validate the trend that we see in the model then it gives you a good foundation for developing your trims and everything.” That model is being built at an alarming pace on the evidence of recent sessions. The Swiss just look better and better with a deep commitment to success in this Cup cycle.

Pushing hard out there in Barcelona today was the NYYC American Magic team who had an absolutely stunning day of two boat testing in nigh on perfect conditions and a building sea-breeze. The AC40LEQ12 ‘America’ and the OD AC40 ‘Magic’ were going hard at each other over laps with a clear goal to test out different settings against each other, rather than pure match-racing. It was fascinating to see the two jousting and then lining up against each other with leeway gauge a clear priority. Getting used to close-quarters action in the AC40s is certainly going to set the Americans up well for the first Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova i La Geltrú in September and this was a productive day.

Tom Burnham, one of the key coaches for American Magic and a veteran Cup campaigner, summed the day up saying: “Yeah we had a great day today. It was beautiful and it's funny because it was only a couple of days ago that the forecast didn't look very good for today, but ‘holy cow’ Barcelona really delivered today. We went out expecting like an 8 to 12 knot sea-breeze, we knew there was always a chance that the sea-breeze would reinforce and get a little stronger, but we had a fantastic day like 14 to 17 knots of wind, pretty flat water and gorgeous sunshine it was just spectacular really, really, great day of sailing today and a lot of fun.”

Tom also reminded us just how hard it is to sail these boats at the level that the sailors are and also talked through the objectives of the day saying: “It wasn't typical sort of match racing race laps today but that wasn't the goal of the day. Today it was to get the boats going around the race track and see how we go against each other on different foils and different setups…we're striving for perfection of course, so we're always wanting to be perfect and when everybody does their jobs well it really looks easy but I can assure you it's not easy, so any small little mistake, a small miscommunication and you can have an error in the manoeuvre, so it's not anywhere near as easy as it looks that's for sure.”

Luna Rossa back in Cagliari – Barcelona sparkling
Luna Rossa back in Cagliari – Barcelona sparkling

Barcelona was sparkling today. Perfect conditions for all the teams whose level just keeps on going higher and higher. The America’s Cup is very much alive under the Mediterranean summer sun at the moment.

The 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race sets sail this Saturday
International Kiteboarding Association: Asia on fire