In the autumnal ambiance of Cagliari, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli delivered another awe-inspiring session of high-speed foil testing. The focus was on pushing the ‘final card,’ Wings 03 & 04, to their limits. The wings and flaps were fully assessed with cameras, flow strips, and pressure strips strategically placed to capture crucial data. Despite the short timeframe, from 10 am to 11:50 am, the intensity of the testing was remarkable. The Flight Controllers skillfully maneuvered Luna Rossa at low altitudes with wide cant angles and deep rudder immersion, showcasing their prowess as the breeze built towards challenging conditions.
Time and again Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni applied the maximum pressure on the foils performing rapid bear aways both one-board and two-board before swinging round into hair-raising round-ups at pace but with full control. This was foiling at the very peak of human ability and a privilege to watch. Sail trim was on point with an accuracy that will have other teams in the America’s Cup taking note with the J4 and the slightly smaller M2 mainsail working beautifully together, occasionally it was suspected in tandem on the bear-aways and few issues with the Foil Cant System today that has plagued the last few sessions. Great sailing from the Italians who, it was reported in La Stampa newspaper in Italy have selected Marco Gradoni and Ruggera Tita to helm in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at The America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta, presented by NEOM, next week.
Speaking afterwards, Andrea Tesei, the highly impressive Flight Controller, summed up the day saying: “Today we pushed the boat out to the limit, we tested the upper range of the boat so high-speed numbers and big loads on in bear-ways and round-ups. We’re getting close to the end of the development process of this boat on foils etc so we’re kind of testing the limits of our yacht.”
Training is producing results for Luna Rossa and as Andrea said: “Obviously we’re starting to build our playbook, now we’ve started to focus a bit more on handling exactly like today, pushing the boat and getting manoeuvres in so as we develop our skills. We kind of get in place some new techniques on the sail trim and all the cant positions, trim etc so we are building up a solid playbook…The trade-off is having a fast foil and fast systems relative to control so that’s always the limit – the compromise between speed and control so that’s the edge you need to get right.”
Looking forward to Jeddah next week, Andrea added: “Everybody obviously is excited; we’ve got a race coming up soon and it’s always a nice benchmark and to get among the other teams and feel the competition and the heat of the competition, but obviously our main focus is on this development boat, we want to get this last month right and get the right choices in for the racing boat.”
With Marco Gradoni and Ruggero Tita travelling to Jeddah, it’s unclear if the team will continue to run the LEQ12 programme in Cagliari whilst the Preliminary Regatta is underway with Andrea unsure when asked.
On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italians rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 9:00, stepped the mast and craned the yacht in by 9:10. The appendage configuration was the same with Wing 03 on starboard and Wing 04 on port. The latter was equipped with the usual Go-Pro cases on the inboard and outboard wings while additional markings were painted along the span with tell tale strips on the wing portion trailing the bulb.
Once again, the team seemed to spend longer time on board rises/drops of both arms at the dock. Six crew boarded the LEQ12 and the yacht was towed out of the harbour at 10:00. The pressure from 305 TWA was measured at 12-14 knots while mainsail M2-1 and jib J4-1 were being hoisted.
The LEQ12 began sailing with a self-take-off on port tack towards the shore, tacked and bore away heading downwind for a straight-line run. Without completing any gybes, the LEQ12 trimmed up on one board only and started sailing upwind on starboard tack. When exiting the upwind tack manoeuvre, the LEQ12 came off its foils with the starboard wing canted significantly out.
After a reset, the yacht self-took-off and kept on sailing upwind practicing some tacks, and spending longer two-boards time before turning the bow. The LEQ12 repeated this training course for a second time. On the next tack manoeuvre, it seemed that the starboard board did not drop completely, and the yacht came to a stop. Several checks followed but seemed to be no major as the yacht was then quickly back on the foils after another self-take-off in 14-16 knots from 315 TWA at approx. 16-17 knots of boat speed 85-90 degrees to the wind direction.
By then, the Chase Boats settled and the yacht sailed around them for a while. A leeward and windward gate were laid out and the LEQ12 occasionally engaged the race track practicing all kinds of mark manoeuvres with the majority dry and successfully executed. As the wind was ramping up above the upper range, the LEQ12 dropped the windward board after a last round-up, sails were lowered and the day was called with 52 minutes foiling time, 13 tacks and 9 gybes