© GIULIA CAPONNETTO
Luna Rossa, interview with Gillo Nobili on technological developments
Twenty-five weeks have passed since the launch of the LEQ12 prototype (13 October 2022) and just as many weeks remain until the first ACWS regatta in Vilanova. Gilberto Nobili, Operations Manager of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, reveals the boat and team developments and looks ahead to the next goals.
Since the prototype was launched, how many sailing days have you had?
Between actual training days at sea and towing trials, we have completed about 50 days, of which over 40 have been sailing days.
What about the weather conditions?
We are lucky: the weather in Cagliari is very variable and includes all conditions; we mainly sailed with Mistral during the first part of the day and with sea breeze around noon, but we have also found trickier conditions, with less common winds. We must be ready for anything but, if possible, we prefer to sail in the conditions that come closest to what we expect to find in Barcelona in late summer.
How and how much have the boat and crew improved in recent months?
In the early stages of the campaign it is crucial to gather as much feedback as possible from every hour spent at sea. We are fortunate to have an excellent pool of athletes: some are young and some are very young. All of them have greatly contributed to the program. Since there are no power limits on board - as there are no cyclists or grinders on the prototype - we need to keep our concentration and performance at a maximum level at all times; this is why the rotation of the different athletes in all roles is a very productive process. Thanks to the professionalism of the entire team and the excellent work of the coaches, the integration of the new recruits with the core group of the previous Cup has been seamless and very useful: they are all collaborative, open to new ideas and ready to share their experience. The final roles on board will be decided as we go along, it’s too early to say now.
We have seen the boat sail better and better, faster and smoother in manoeuvres. Can you tell us something about the performance?
We all know that in the America's Cup the fastest boat wins, but it's not just about the top speed upwind or downwind, it's about the hull that performs best throughout the whole racecourse. Getting around the buoys flawlessly is not the main point in a training program, but if used correctly, it remains a fundamental and indispensable exercise in boat tuning.
We know that in recent months you have tested various configurations and solutions. What can you tell us about the developments made to the prototype?
With the Recon observers on site there are few secrets now, or at least some things are more obvious to the naked eye. I can confirm that we have already tested several things and used about 50% of the available cards for the prototype components. Some details, however, are not so visible to an outside observer and could make all the difference... In the end it’s always the same game of putting all elements together to make them work: resources and time are not unlimited, and the winner will be the one who knows how to use and measure them best.
The Rules of the 37th America's Cup require eight sailors, only four of whom are dedicated to produce energy. How did you come up with this rule?
The new rule leaves open the option of using four grinders or four cyclors on board. Each team is investing time and resources to find the best solution and the most correct adaptation for their boat. As far as athletic preparation is concerned, our new partner Pharmanutra is supporting us in nutrition, preparation and medical supervision. Obviously this aspect must be supported and integrated with the development of the on-board systems and the playbook that utilize the energy produced by the athletes.
Have the lines of the new AC75 already been confirmed by the teams?
I think this depends on the strategies of the individual syndicates, but in general, I would say yes: we should be on the verge of making the basic choices. Soon everyone will have to start producing the hull, but there are still a few months to go for the final design team decisions.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is about to receive the AC40: what do you expect?
We will receive our boat in a few weeks, so we can't say much, but it seems that ETNZ did a good job and that it is a good tool. From July to September it will only be allowed to sail in Barcelona, so after we have assembled and tested it here in Cagliari, we will send it to Spain so the guys can sail it in the Cup waters.
Speaking of Spain, how far along is your base in Barcelona and when do you plan to move there?
We are not in too much of a hurry, for now the main activities will remain here, but the base will be ready for the summer.
The first ACWS will be in Vilanova i la Geltrú. What expectations and goals do you have for this inaugural regatta?
We always try to do our best, because nobody likes losing, most certainly not our team. The fact is that most of our competitors have been using the AC40 for several months as their main boat for development and training. We expect to receive the One Design boat in a few weeks and still have not yet decided in detail the best way to exploit it for our final goal which is the Cup. We will undeniably be less accustomed than others to sailing this boat, but no one is looking for excuses, we have an excellent crew and will give it our very best.