It is beginning to seem that in order for teams to qualify to defend or challenge for the 37th America’s Cup in 2024 they must first pass an initiation phase during training that includes a capsize or two.
Just yesterday Luna Rossa notched another tick in the ‘capsize clique’ during training off the coast of its base in Cagliari, Sardinia. Luckily, the team opted to design and build a smaller prototype hydrofoil known as LEQ12 (Less or Equal to 12 meters) to test its design and gear setup before spending the big bucks on the full-size AC75 that will be used in the competition.
As we have reported before here on autoevolution, these hydrofoil vessels are extremely fast and nimble, but unpredictable, especially with sudden wind shifts and heavy seas. They perform right on the edge of what is safe.
The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team began their day on the water in a 5-knot 5.75 mph / 9.26 kp/h) breeze with their #1 jib (the biggest) however, in very short order the wind picked up to 18 knots with 0.7-meter (2.3 foot) swells. After completing their first and only tack (the bow of the boat is turned toward and through when changing course sailing into the wind) the wind on a beam reach (when the true wind is at a 45-degree angle to the direction of motion) the 38-foot (11.58-meter) LEQ12 touched down and slowly flipped over.
CEO Max Sirena would later say that the sea conditions were about the max the LEQ12 could endure safely. The boat was quickly righted however, the wind increased to over 20 knots (23 mph / 37 kp/h) and the decision was made to call it a day. This is the second time in less than six weeks the team has flipped their hydrofoil.
On November 21, defending cup champion Emirates Team New Zealand did a nosedive and capsized their AC40 prototype in the Hauraki Gulf while Alinghi Red Bull’s BoatZero did the same shortly after beginning their training off the coast of Barcelona in October.