Ahead of a sketchy looking forecast for the next couple of days, the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team became the third of the challengers back out on the water, sneaking in a shakedown sail on Sunday before the team’s LEQ12 goes back into the shed for routine maintenance and checks.
Venturing out in flat-calm waters just after 11am, the team waited for the wind with a couple of tow-ups but as the wind built steadily in the Bay of Angels to 10-12 knots with 15 knot gusts, the Italians had their pocket rocket flying. It was a game of cat and mouse with the weather as the south westerly front pushed into Cagliari and by the end of the session, the team were seeking gentler conditions inside the Bay rather than offshore as gusts of 17 knots filtered in.
From a tech perspective, there’s a lot of work going on in foil development at the moment, particularly around the wing tips and Luna Rossa appeared to have equalised both their flat port foil and anhedral starboard foil with similar tips, with the outside ones being painted in ‘Prada red’ to show up accurately on the cameras monitoring performance just aft of the bow. For the sailors, it looked like much attention was being paid today to the pre-launch set up, the tricky transition that places so much reliance on crew co-ordination to get the boat from displacement to flight, and the heavyweight, six-man crew put in a good deal of work in this vital area that will pay handsome dividends when the team get to Barcelona. Big bear aways followed by aggressive mainsheet traveller adjustment and then highly co-ordinated sheeting on of both mainsail and jib saw the LEQ12 ‘pop’ with what looked like ease but then again, the very best always do make it look easy.
Speaking afterwards, Gilberto Nobili, the team’s Operations Manager, commented: “We just came back from a short break for Christmas and today was planned to be a shakedown and a quick sailing. The reality is that we have bad weather in the next few days, so we decided to make a longer session. it was very productive with 10 to 15 knots and quite a bit of waves, so it was a good come back from the short break.”
The focus on the LEQ12 is very much to provide systems and performance data for the team’s one-build AC75 and it’s clear that the focus for the team is angling towards that design brief sign-off as Nobili explained: “It’s a prototype so the goal of this boat is not to reach performance but to try out new stuff and try to debug the systems, so our goal is changing and every day we try to learn as much as possible looking for the big boat.”
“The learnings of today will be of course beneficial for the big boat for sure. Every day that you go out with this kind of boat you learn something and today was a great day for the crew I think because the 10 to 15 knots with waves is probably what we expect to have in Barcelona. It was a great day for the crew training and a good day for all the team to be back in the water because every time you stop, you need a little bit of time to get the machine going, it was a good come back after the break.”
Wisely with the forecast for building breeze, the Italians changed down quickly from the J1 and went straight to the J4 for the majority of the session with the recon team noting some big splashdowns amidst fire-hydrant spray whilst clocking a total flight time of just under an hour.
A great first session of 2023 for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
On Water Recon Unit Notes: The LRPP LEQ12 sailed offshore covering 67.7 nm with sea state due to which the recon RIB struggled to keep up with the LEQ12 pace. Boat splashed down in the morning at 9:55 and at 11:50 the team headed out in the Gulf. Finding glassy conditions at first, the team headed out offshore of Sarroch and Capoterra trying to anticipate the strong incoming SW breeze and significant waves, proper sailing began at 13:20 completing 16 manoeuvres, surviving approximately 5 significant dives and splash downs and ended sailing at 16:20. On several occasions while heading downwind, the LEQ12 has been observed with both boards down while sometimes lifting the windward up again. Out of three headsails loaded on the chase-cat, the J1 has been up for one short “sketchy” run and considering the increasing pressure, the team hoisted directly the J4. On breaks between runs while switching sailors, personnel has been observed on board checking the clew and traveller of jib. In two runs of each 11 minutes towards the beach of Poetto, the team encountered tougher conditions of 17 knots SW and 1.5m SW waves and searched for occasional shelter closer inshore in the bay. The LEQ12 had a total flight time of approximately 57 minutes reaching top speeds of lower 40 knots according to GPS.
Dock out: 1150 Dock-in: 1640
Helms: Francesco Bruni / Marco Gradoni (rotating with Ruggero Tita)
Crew: Andrea Tesei / Umberto Molineris / Vittorio Bissaro / Enrico Voltolini
(Recon Notes: with 6 crew on board, the team is testing the behaviour of the prototype with additional weight)
MN1-1S Mainsail: 4 hours 30 minutes
J1-1-B: 10 minutes
J4-1-A: 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Tacks: 7 – 5 foil-to-foil, 1 touch & go, 1 touchdowns
Total Gybes: 9 – 4 foil-to-foil, 2 touch & go, 3 touchdowns
(Recon Unit Notes: The LR LEQ12 has been hydrofoiling for a total of 57 minutes. Flight times ranged from less than 1 minute to 11 minutes.)
Wind Strength: 14-17 knots (PM) 14-16 degrees, sunny/cloudy
12:00 NW 2kn/ 13:20 SW 15-18kn/ 15:15 SW 14kn, (depending on sheltered position in the gulf) SW Perturbation from Gibraltar pushed solid strong breeze and sea state
Take-off speed: 17 knots (estimate) at 90 degrees TWA
© IVO ROVIRA / AMERICA’S CUP
© IVO ROVIRA / AMERICA’S CUP
© IVO ROVIRA / AMERICA’S CUP