In Sardinia it was another case of docking-out early to catch the morning breeze with both the LEQ12 and the AC40 punching out into the Bay of Angels at 8am and with a switched up crew. Marco Gradoni joined Jimmy Spithill on the AC40 whilst Francesco Bruni and Ruggero Tita took charge of the LEQ12.
With the anemometer barely breaching 10 knots, this was a day for the lighter-weight AC40 to really show its potency in the pre-starts and out of seven, it was six to the AC40 and even stevens on the very last start. Impressive performance in the start box from Spithill and Gradoni who had a game-plan and stuck to it, unafraid to luff aggressively when to leeward and more than capable of doing the ‘monohull foiling dance’ back to the line with the kill-speed swoops and positional fakery.
Communication is something that everyone is working super-hard on at the moment and Phillippe Presti, Racing Coach for Luna Rossa alluded as much saying: “We did a good debrief yesterday, mainly about the communication and you know the way to set up our strategy around the pre-start which is very specific for these boats especially in this light air and very pleased today to listen to the comms yeah very nice and yeah I wish we get more breeze for the next sessions.”
Talking about the benefits of the two-boat training despite the obvious upwind speed advantage of the LEQ12, Philippe added: “Well it’s pretty close, I mean with pre starts you know you don’t need to have close performance to do something very interesting because it’s something that is very hard to model in the simulator is the ‘gas’ – the bad air effect – and you know I think it’s very good to have two boats of similar performance so you can visualise that and then have a good start despite the gas of the boat in front of you, so very good learning.”
On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italian team rolled out their AC40 (white) at 7:30 and their LEQ12(red) at 7:55, stepped masts and craned in respectively at 7:45 and 8:10. As previous days, both wings of the red boat were equipped with two GoPros each. The previously detected modification on Wing01 and rudder elevator were confirmed by the team’s 51st declaration. Compared to previous days, helm and trimmers swapped between boats before docking the yachts out at 9:15. Out on the bay, the forecast looked similar to previous sailing day: lighter than forecasted, flat water and 8-10kn from 305°. Considering the breeze, M1-2 was paired to the J1-1 on red and the M1 OD was paired to J1 OD on white.
As white self-took-off, the GoPros were activated on red’s wings before being towed up on port tack and bearing away shortly after. Both boats started sailing around a virtual course while marks were being set up.
After two individual starts, red and white tested the course sailing an upwind and a downwind leg. The 1st official prestart was observed at 10:05 with white on port and red on starboard entries. Both yachts sailed towards the lower right box bottom before turning up. White led the start and red seemed to start 2-3 seconds later tacking off right away. Both yachts sailed half the leg before bearing away to keep up the start practices.
The pressure seemed to be shifting slightly to the right and decreasing to 7-9kn 320°. Before the 2nd start, the LEQ12 fell off the foils after an unsuccessful JK. A self-take-off followed and the 2nd prestart was lively with white on port and red on starboard. Both boats started on time, white further down the pin. During the upwind leg, white seemed to squeeze red with a high mode forcing red to tack away.
The 3rd prestart unfolded similar to the second with both yachts down the right bottom and turning up towards the line. Red chased white and tacked right over the starting line. During the 4th, the breeze seemed to be suddenly dying, both yachts came off the foils whilst heading up. It became a drag race with white being able to stand up on the foils quicker than red and winning this start by 25 seconds.
Red boat was then towed up, and the 5th prestart took place with, once again, white on port and red on starboard. White was almost late for its entry, but still able to pull off another start beating the red boat which fell off the foils after a manoeuvre. Breeze was still marginal with 6-8kn from 320°.
On the 6th start, red was on port and white on starboard. Once again, for the LEQ12 the breeze seemed to not be enough to stay up on the foils, handing the prestart win to white. Both yachts decelerated and tow lines were passed by the Chase Boats for a longer break of 20 minutes waiting for some profitable puffs.
Once the wind seemed to pick up slightly again, both yachts were towed up and sailed similar angles upwind and downwind, engaging occasionally covering the manoeuvre of the opponent. The higher manoeuvrability of white during tacks and gybes certainly proves an advantage compared to the longer two boards transitions of red. However, on the longer straight line runs, the LEQ12 seemed to be definitely quicker than the AC40.
As the breeze finally picked up again, red and white headed quickly towards the leeward gate. For the 7th start, red was on port and white on starboard. Both boats started on time with white closer to the committee boat end and red closer to pin which tacked to split. As racing was live, several lead changes took place with white in front on the first cross, red on the second and finally white on the third. Racing was then cancelled due to a ferry coming through and the day was called for the LEQ12 with approx. 95 minutes foiling time and approx. 36 tacks and 39 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].