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Luna Rossa’s Dominant Display in Cagliari Sets Tone for Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup

There was more than one declaration today in Cagliari, Sardinia with Luna Rossa first of all declaring by dint of sheer sailing talent that they are going to be a mighty force in the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup but then a few hours later, following suit with Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi Red Bull Racing in declaring their firm intention to launch the new AC75 in just two short months’ time.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup
On the water for the fourth straight day in a row, the Italian team put in another long session of some ten starts and short course races in a variety of breeze that at times became a challenge to stay on the foil. Pitting the heavier-weight LEQ12 against the nimble AC40 in marginal sub-10 knot conditions gives somewhat of a manoeuvrability advantage to the AC40 but where the LEQ loses in circles, it more than makes up for in a straight-line.Honours were balanced towards the LEQ again in the final tally with the young superstar talent of Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni helming whilst in the AC40, Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni – the experienced duo – were keeping the young guns on their toes through a near five-hour session from early morning through to mid-afternoon.The Italian team have impressed enormously over the past four days with huge focus on the match-racing side and with a fantastic mix of talent bringing fresh ideas and approach whilst the old tricks are there to be learnt and absorbed. The future, both the immediate and beyond, looks incredibly bright for Italian sailing.
© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup
Max Sirena, the Team Director summed it up beautifully after sailing saying: “I’m actually pleased to see the level of the team in the water considering we’ve got two guys with 20 years or more of experience in match-racing against two young guys in this new game. So every day that we’re going out on the water to be two-boat and practising and racing it’s a learning process for us and I think the nice thing all these days is actually the attitude of the new guys in the approach to this new game and we are learning every day and it’s good to have the benefit of so many good sailors available now between all the young guys and it’s giving us a lot of opportunity to raise the level up, so it’s good.”
© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup
Max was asked smartly by the recon team about when the declaration of intent to launch would be made and responded: “I think we can expect that in the next couple of hours,” and then went on to explain the team’s thinking in relation to the other teams: “I think at the end everyone is more or less on the same schedule because the only thing you cannot change is the starting date of the event, so everyone at the beginning of the campaign is making his own best programme but at some stage you have to put the boat in the water so more or less it’s a kind of a corner and I think between weeks you will see all the boats in the water. There will be some which are probably launching later than another one, but I think at the end more or less we’re going to be in the same window.”
© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup
Questioned as to ho radical the boats will be, Max gave an interesting answer alluding to INEOS Britannia and Alinghi Red Bull Racing with their technology partnerships, saying: “I think everyone will push pretty hard from a design point of view and specially from an aerodynamic point of view, we got few teams involved with the Formula One design teams so we are expecting something big from them, but at the end it’s going to be a yacht sailing in the water and so you need to make sure all the bits and all the parts of the boat are going to be in one piece.”
© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup
Whilst Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were putting the hammer down in Cagliari, (in more ways than one – see the photo in the recon report below) over in Barcelona it was a more benign affair with a light weather front passing over ahead of some stronger breeze forecast for later in the week. Both Alinghi Red Bull Racing and NYYC American Magic opted for a maintenance day, leaving Orient Express Racing to put up their new LEQ12 mainsail and pair it with their brand new LEQ12 J1 jib and do their best to find some wind out on the America’s Cup racecourse. It was a tough ask but they did get flying after the usual faff with fitting brand new sails for the first time.

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italians rolled out their LEQ12(red) at 7:45, craned in at 8:05 as the AC40(white) was already floating. Dock-out was scheduled at 09:00, only helms swapped between boats compared to the previous day and two cameras were again fitted on Wing04 and one on Wing01. As red was being towed out of the harbour a thick fog forced the team to dock back in and stand by.

Approximately an hour later, both boats were towed towards La Sella del Diavolo where the offshore pressure was first measured 7-9kn from 305° with flat water. The first iteration of mainsail M1-1 was paired to the J1.5-2 on red and the M1 OD was paired to J1 OD on white.

As both boats started lining-up distanced on each tack, the bottom gate was being setup. The pressure seemed to be increasing slightly and hence the J2 was hoisted on white. In the meantime, the red boat kept on practicing starts on its own, focussing on the successful execution of full circles once in the box.

At 10:45 the 1st pre-start drill was run with red on port, circling around the Committee Boat and able to chase down white. White trimmed up and tacked, red bore away and gybed. When approaching the line, red was faster and better timed so being able to start undisturbed from white which was behind.

Similar entry strategy for the 2nd start which saw the white boat start ahead, slightly more to windward. As the boats were racing, red gained the lead with a wind shift and led all the upwind and downwind crosses.

The 3rd pre-start unfolded at 11:05 and saw red pushing white approaching the line, white more to leeward, red tacked to port once started. When racing, white matched red on each tack, winning the race.

The 4th start saw red on port, sailing its circle and chasing down white. On the line, the boats seemed to have started evenly with a gap between the two.

On the 5th drill, white on port entry, it was an aggressive battle coming up and white seemed to be early over the line. 

On the 6th, red touched down exiting the full circle and had to reset to take off, white took advantage chasing red down and both started slightly late, red behind white. Racing was live with red tacking early splitting the course and white was ahead on the upwind crosses. The race was then abandoned as red fell off the foils on the top side of course where the breeze seemed less favourable.

At 11:35 the J1.5 was lowered on red and so was the J2 on white, to increase the sail plan with respectively J1-1 and J1 OD. As the breeze was decreasing, the team seemed to work on the removal of one of the port foil cameras with a hammer! As the LEQ12 was towed up on foils, it did not survive its first tack on the top of the course, with the pressure too marginal.

© Ivo Rovira / America’s Cup

At 11:55 the prototype was up foiling and the 7th pre-start drill was run with red on port. After the usual strategy in the box both boats seemed to start on time with red slightly more vulnerable and tacking right away.

Similarly, the 8th drill unfolded shortly after with white on port. Approaching the line white was slightly more leeward, dropped the board to roll onto port tack, red matched and white rolled straight back to starboard tack. The boats started racing, white in front of the red on the first cross in the shifty light air, beginning to affect red which bore away building to tack but came off the foils exiting the manoeuvre.

On the 9th start, red was on port and managed to start slightly more to windward than white which laid down to the pin. As both boats started engaging closely both came off the foils in a lull.

White managed a self-take-off while red was towed up for the 10th start drill of the day with red on port entry. Both yachts sailed all the way to the right boundary and, approaching the line, red started windward of white. As racing was live, red fell off the foils after a tack and the day was called for red while white stayed out for a longer while flying its J1 OD.

Overall the boats seemed to have similar boat speeds in this light air. For this day an approx. foiling time of 115 minutes and approx. 50 tacks and 40 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].

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