America's Cup: asymmetry magnified in the Bay of Angels

America's Cup: asymmetry magnified in the Bay of Angels

America's Cup: asymmetry magnified in the Bay of Angels

Sport

10/05/2024 - 21:15

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli continued their impressive training block in their new aesthetically astounding AC75 on an afternoon where, in the boats of AC36, the team’s weatherman would have called for a maintenance day. However, the new rule with eight sailors and a reduced all-up weight of just 6.45 tons aligned with super-span 4.5 metre foils (an increase of 250mm each side from 2021), makes down-range conditions more than do-able now – perhaps even enjoyable.

The Italians took the option today with just the one and only fly in their ointment, and of much chagrin to helmsman and Cup legend Jimmy Spithill, with Luna Rossa still carrying the anhedral ‘old’ foil of Auckland 2021 days. In a breeze that ranged from just 6-8 knots, the deficiencies of the legacy foil were amplified, especially through the manoeuvres with the angled foils dragging the bow down to the surface and requiring a different angle into the tack - bear away for speed, up the ride height, spin and hope. Largely it was an exercise in re-booting after the tacks from starboard to port on the new starboard immersed foil but plenty of good take-aways in terms of rapid speed builds from the new wing and an easy pop to flight on this most sculpted of hull forms.

Philippe Presti, the master coach of Luna Rossa saw the positives saying: “Obviously we have two different generation of foils, and you know in this low end, the entry is always critical and no we are not as fast with the old foil so that makes tacks a little bit unbalanced, but I think it's a good drill and how we recover from marginal tacks so super happy with the day.”

For sure the sailors will be itching to get on with the programme on symmetric, or near symmetric foils and that is clearly the ambition now. Unlikely to happen now before the boat is shipped up to Barcelona, although the team are keeping tight-lipped and concentrating on the benefits of the new foil with Philippe adding: “We have to obviously see on two boards how it works but it doesn’t seem any problem to go high mode, low mode, fast, acceleration and so I think it’s an improvement overall for the boat, I don't see any downside...Manoeuvrability is good (on the new foil), we did circles and it doesn't look like they’re affecting the agility of the boat so pretty confident...but in match-racing you have to adapt to your opposition as well so it's going to be a game where you have to read what the opposition can do and build up your playbook and your plan.”

After the customary straight-line speed testing, ‘S’ bends and bear-aways on both sides, eventually the call was made to put marks in and get some pre-start practice and laps in. Here Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni (who had swapped in for Marco Gradoni) excel, and their time-on-distance was spot on with some neat speed kills in the final approaches achieved by lateral bear-aways from out wide before building speed and swooping over the line at pace. Philippe Presti is blown away by the performance profile of the current crip of AC75s saying: “The boats, they are nothing like what we had last time, a new generation of boat, they are way more quicker, agile and at the low end we can take-off in 6.5 or 6 knots so they're really a machine, a wind machine.”

A solid four hours on a super smooth Bay of Angels and another positive data day in the bag. Luna Rossa is arguably close to being fully commissioned now, minus the foil upgrade, but that will come and overall this package looks like a solid all-rounder, as at ease in the breeze as it is in the light. It will be interesting to see how they develop the modes and the overall package when they get to Barcelona.

Looking forward now to the move to Barcelona and the natural on-water comparison that each team will be mentally making, the next step is a big one for the Italians with Presti adding: “I think we will have to adjust to a different city obviously, and different logistics. We've been here (Cagliari) for so many years that is very easy for the team and that's why we chose that, to make sure that boat is well set in our environment, obviously Barcelona will be different, a lot of sea state, different things to take into account so we embrace that and in a couple of weeks we’ll be sailing in Barcelona and it will be fantastic.”

Casting his experienced eye over at the other teams, it’s clear that everyone is watching everyone with Philippe adding: “Every design is quite interesting, I love looking at the other boats and trying to put myself in the shoes or head of the designer, what they’re thinking, I think it's a good exercise to see which way they want to edge and they give good information about the quality of the boats, manoeuvrability of the boats, their strengths and their weaknesses of the boats, so I’m looking at every boat.”

Biggest day so far in terms of manoeuvres with 79 completed and the training continues tomorrow - possibly their last in Cagliari.

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