America's Cup: Luna Rossa bid Cagliari farewell

America's Cup: Luna Rossa bid Cagliari farewell

America's Cup: Luna Rossa bid Cagliari farewell


11/05/2024 - 08:38

Nestled in the heart of the busy commercial port of Cagliari, set on a promontory, the astonishing Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli facility on the Molo Ichnusa has been the place that the team have very much made their home for the past two-and-a-half years. The central beating heart of this inspiring campaign for the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup, the base has given the team a focal point, a uniting space where that all-important factor of ‘culture’ has been developed, honed and refined.

On Friday, the team’s on-water operations came to an end in Cagliari and it’s over to the shore team and logistics to pack everything up ready to ship over to their new base on the southern side of the Port Vell opposite the W-Hotel in Barcelona. It’s a big move for such a settled team and marks the next stage on their thrilling quest to finally win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup and bring it, sensationally, to Italy for the first time in the competition’s 173-year history. Do that and they will be national heroes without equal.

To sign off the Italian leg of the programme, Luna Rossa put on a light-weather display of the highest order. Most noteworthy was the down-range take-offs on the new starboard foil (Jimmy Spithill will be begging the shore team to 'forget' to pack the legacy anhedral and leave it in Cagliari) and it’s this performance in a zephyr of a breeze of 4-6 knots, producing a boat-speed of 15-16 knots, that will have interested eyes and spies taking note in Barcelona.

America's Cup: Luna Rossa bid Cagliari farewell

So too, the foil-to-foil rate that we saw on the downrange tacking – much improved from recent light air sessions with the team able to whip the bow through, maintain speeds and keep flying with only a smidgen of added ride height to do so. On two symmetric foils this will only get even better. Something we saw almost day in and day out when the team were training on their LEQ12 was the helm/trim co-ordination at take-off and this has translated well to the big boat. Just as the target speed is within a knot or so of the ‘bite’ point of the foils, there’s a moment where the bow pops up right at the moment that a co-ordinated mainsail and jib trim comes on. It’s the crucial moment, we see it elsewhere, and then there’s a small dial up into the wind and the boat ‘pops’ to flight. Majestic co-ordination and the Bissarro/Tesei/Molineris trim team at Luna Rossa have it in spades, regardless of what combination is onboard.

Marco Gradoni, the rising superstar of Italian sailing, had a full session today on the helm with Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni swapping in on the starboard pod but useful race training practice was executed right at the end of this four-hour afternoon sail using the onboard software. After the obligatory pre-start practice, the team went in for some laps but this time had the coach boat to force moves, shadow boxing with 1000hp on the back – a difficult and uncompromising opponent, that never tires.

Solid day on the water, a fitting end to what has been arguably the best work-up period of any team in the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. The LEQ12 programme was a lesson in sensational, high-paced sailing. The AC40 two-boat race practice against the LEQ12 was one of the most electrifying things we’ve seen. The encouragement of the next generation in Ruggi Tita and Marco Gradoni has been exemplary and created a monumental base of knowledge for the future. The AC75 build, launch and commissioning has been off the scale. This is one of the best prepared teams, operating at the very highest level with experience all the way through.

America's Cup: Luna Rossa bid Cagliari farewell

Hard to bet against in Barcelona, but they know the competition will be fierce. Speaking afterwards, Max Sirena, Team Director, knows what’s coming as he said: “We're looking forward to putting the second wing on the boat and start really moving into the racing mode, but I think like for all the other teams we will have quite a lot to develop still, and I think it's going to happen until the last racing day. I think the difference will come from small details, so we need to make sure we cover all the aspects in all the departments of the boat to make sure we are race ready for day one.”

Gilberto Nobili, Operations Manager, scoped the wider programme and added: “I think we are happy, obviously there is something interesting on all the boats that we saw so far, there is nothing shocking, nothing that you say well we didn't talk about, obviously the boat is a compromise of everything, you need to push in all the directions and that is what we have. On the appendages we are quite happy with the first one, we still have two to play and so we just need to go in the water together and see what really what the numbers are saying underwater because that is where it’s counting.”

Max concluded with: “I think it was a really good day to close the camp here in Sardinia and I think we are happy so far with the results we find on the water and we still have quite a lot to go and but we are looking forward to go to Barcelona and start sailing the racing course together with the other guys.”

This chapter of the campaign is over. Now the pages of history require writing. For fans of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, this a compelling, all-in, no-stone-unturned challenge with elan, panache, class and incredible technology executed by true professionals at the very peak of their game. Can they do it? (Magnus Wheatley)

America's Cup: Luna Rossa bid Cagliari farewell

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: For their last sailing day in Cagliari before moving to Barcelona, Luna Rossa rolled out their B3 at 11:50. While docking out at 13:30, the main M1-7 was hoisted with the J1.5-7 jib as the breeze was measured 7-9 knots from 190° with a flat sea state. Up foiling by self-take-off on port tack, B3 headed for a long straight-line upwind run. As the yacht sailed in an area with less breeze, approximately 6-8kn, a significant number of upwind manoeuvres were practiced on both tacks with an improved foil-to-foil rate compared to the day before. While practicing starboard arm drops we noticed how the traveller moved to port with decreasing tension flattening the main.

As the breeze dropped further to 4-6kn, the J1.5 was lowered to hoist the J1-7 and one impressive self-take-off was then observed on port tack (new foil) with a take-off speed of 15-16 knots in the lightest air seen so far, below racing range.

As the breeze died completely, B3 was towed back towards the city and released to sail downwind on starboard tack. A series of gybes was then executed before the chase boats setup a gate on 175° with 7-9 knots for start practice. Gybes looked more consistent compared to the previous day, but conditions offered an average of 1.5kn more.

As the yacht decelerated, batteries were changed and crew rotations were arranged for starboard helm, starboard trimmer and both aft pods cyclors. At 16:30, the breeze had increased further to 8-10 knots while the team spent a significant amount of time below deck. At 16:35 the yacht was up foiling again and practiced a timed start followed by an upwind and a downwind leg which saw the chase boat engaging with B3. The downwind leg was then extended all the way towards the harbour where the yacht sailed in increased pressure, about 11kn and shifted to the left, allowing a last straight-line run before trimming up to decelerate.

The day was called with approximately 86 minutes foilborne, 42 tacks and 37 gybes. (Michele Melis AC Recon)


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