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Luna Rossa’s Day in Cagliari: Early Start for Upper-Range Testing in Ideal Weather Conditions

Contrasting fortunes on either side of the Mediterranean this morning with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli skirting a storm whilst in Barcelona it was displacement sailing only for Alinghi Red Bull Racing who opted for systems checks of their new mainsail and mainsheet systems.

For Luna Rossa, out in Cagliari, the day was slated for an early start with the weather models showing a rapidly building Mistral and a northerly airflow that created quite flat water initially and was perfect for upper-range testing. The team docked-out early into a beautiful 10-12 knots and after a failed take-off on port, flipped over to starboard and with some innovative windward sheeting of the mainsail and crew ballast changes, got the LEQ12 easily up into flight and motoring at pace on a low ride.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

This was very much a day for straight-line testing and getting maximum foil data with the team sending a diver in to the chilly November waters of the Bay of Angels to switch on and check the cameras on the starboard side Foil Wing 03 before heading off.

One persistent issue that wasn’t solved overnight was the Foil Cant System gremlin that caused splashdowns when going from the starboard Wing03 onto the new Port Wing 04, something that Boat Captain Michele Cannoni acknowledged afterwards saying: “We know exactly what it is, we know exactly what to do, we wanted to hit this window of wind speed and flat water, so we decided to go anyway with the issue we had. It’s an easy fix and definitely this session was not on manoeuvre purpose, so we decided to do testing and we were able to do what we wanted to do.”

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

It was a short session as the wind rose to 16-18 knots, with the forecastfor more imminently, so the session was called with the team posting a flight time of some 50 minutes at a very high pace. Upwind conservative estimates put the speed at 37-39 knots and downwind at an estimated 44-46 knots. Michele added into that saying: “I mean obviously I cannot confirm the numbers, at times they were quicker than that but we’re definitely happy with the session we had. We knew that was going to be a quick session because the Mistral is ramping up very quickly and we wanted to tick off the boxes of the upper range on the last foils so we came out with cameras as well to check on the behaviours and we’re happy with today.”

Asked what those cameras will reveal, Michele responded: “You want to actually know how the new foils behave at the top speed, of course the way they enter the water, and a few other behaviours that they want to investigate to double check their tools as well.”

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

The team set their exquisitely detailed M2 which is a Luna Rossa masterpiece of design on both skins with some innovative zig-zagged moulding and a batten profile that is almost flawless to the naked eye whilst up forward the team went for the J4 jib which was optimal as the wind increased. Ride was interesting with the team going for a flat and slightly bow-up profile as the wind increased – safety first, this was a data gathering morning and it was short and sweet for the Italians who, having docked-out at 8.30am, were back on the dock by 9.50am, proving that it’s not the quantity but the quality that counts.

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: With the forecasted Maestrale ramping up quickly before noon, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli opted for an early roll-out for their LEQ12 prototype at 7:30am, stepped the mast and craned the yacht in by 7:45am.

Both wings 03 and 04 were equipped with GoPro cases on the respective inboard tips on suction and pressure sides. In the helm port pod a larger screen was fitted.

At 8:30am the yacht was towed out of the harbour and the northerly, shifty breeze from 320TWA was measured at 10-12knots as mainsail M2-1 and jib J4-1 were being hoisted and used for the whole sailing session.

As the cameras were switched on by a diver, the LEQ12 began its first foiling stint trying to self-take-off on port tack but, without any success, changed to starboard tack. Once past the wind shadow of harbour pier, the breeze looked to be increasing quickly over the whole Bay.

Once up on port tack, the yacht pointed upwind with windward heel and the canted wing04 piercing the water surface. A bear away followed and the LEQ12 headed downwind for a long straight-line run. Considering the increased chop further offshore and the upper range boat speeds, it was challenging to follow the yacht closely on this downwind course.

Once the starboard arm was dropped, the yacht rounded up and headed upwind for a while. Similar to the previous day, on the upwind manoeuvre from starboard to port tack, there seemed to be an issue with the FCS as out of several tacks none was fully foiling.

A self-take-off on port tack was then executed as the team continued sailing upwind on port tack before bearing away and repeating their routine, occasionally gybing to load back the newest wing. In this upper range breeze, a larger depowering twist could be seen of mainsail M2 flying shape while sailing upwind. On the last run, the team was testing foil drops on both wings sailing upwind as well as downwind and just as the breeze ramped up further, some bear aways and two-board round ups were conducted.

Upwind boat speeds of 37-39kn and 44-46kn downwind were displayed by RIB GPS. On the last two-board round up, the yacht pointed to the wind and the day was called with approx 50 minutes foiling time, 5 tacks and 4 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].

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