Monday, May 13, 2024
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Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: A Day of Power and Class with the New AC75

An early-morning dock-out from the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli base offered the Italian Challenger for the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup an outstanding and variable session where they had a little bit of everything. This was a day of pure power and class from a team that seemed to have effortlessly moved from their LEQ12 into the beautiful new AC75 with an ease and assurance that is remarkable.

The biggest take-away from the day was the sheer balance of the boat in flight. In short, she just looks right in flight with the team able to secure near-perfect end-plating and making the bustle in the middle third of the boat work very hard for its living. As the wind increased into the early afternoon, Luna Rossa came alive with some outstanding stints completed that varied between straight-line sailing for data gathering and sail trim purposes and then some smart laps to keep the eyes of the sailors in.

Interesting to see today that in the first stint it was Francesco Bruni and Marco Gradoni joining forces on the wheels (can you imagine being 20 years old and sailing an AC75?) before Jimmy Spithill and the Olympic Gold medallist Ruggero Tita stepped onboard for the latter part of the day. Serious talent is coursing all the way through this Italian challenge, and they didn’t disappoint.

Tacks and gybes were effortlessly foil-to-foil with the team adjusting easily for the conditions – high exit in the light to keep the power on and then rapier-fast angle to angle when the breeze picked up. Majestic manoeuvring, Luna Rossa looked on a tear all day today with pin-point trim and very dynamic traveller control keeping the boat moded mainly flat, leaning on the immersed foil and only briefly showing windward heel – which actually appeared very fast in execution.

In total the team put in some five valuable hours on the water and executed 35 tacks and 31 gybes – a decent tally by any standard and all with legacy foils still onboard. Speaking afterwards, cyclor Enrico Voltolini who was a grinder in the last campaign commented: “It was a perfect day today 12-15 knots, first few laps, lots of manoeuvres and we are learning a lot, very good day.”

Comparing the new role of cyclor versus the old grinding pedestals of the last America’s Cup, Enrico said: “It’s pretty hard now, we are pushing a lot of parts in the accumulator so it’s harder than the handles on the last Cup.”

Solid day for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who will be looking now to press on into the weekend to keep momentum going. Impressive performance again. (Magnus Wheatley) 

On-Water Recon Report – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: The Italian team rolled out their B3 AC75 at 6:45, stepped the mast and craned in by 7:20. As previous days the boat appeared with the older appendage configuration. After running the usual FCS, flaps and rudder checks, the sailors proceeded with the sail control checks involving the power group cycling. The M1-7 was locked in the mast fittings 20 minutes before dock-out scheduled for 8:30.

Out of the harbour, the offshore breeze was quite patchy and shifty with several cloud systems distributed around the Bay. Just when the team started to hoist the main M1-7, 8-9 knots from 290° were recorded, as the J3 jib was chosen at 8:55, there were 13-15 knots from 280°. The first foiling stint lasted 13 minutes and began with a self-take-off on starboard tack, followed by two tacks exiting quite high and slow before the first bear-away of the day was observed. The yacht then executed three more gybes and trimmed up to starboard decelerating.

With the boat back on towline, several technicians boarded the yacht as it stayed in displacement for 30 minutes working on the jib track and mast base. The yacht self-took-off on port tack, sailed straight for a while, tacked and bore-away. Two additional gybes were executed before turning up on two boards to starboard. Then, the team seemed to test some upwind modes straight-lining for data on each tack upwind. A second bear-away was recorded at approx. 10:00 which led the yacht rolling quickly into a series of gybes. After 5 of these, the team turned up to port on two boards and proceeded upwind with a series of tacks before stopping after 42 minutes foiling.

During this break, both helms, one trimmer and a pair of cyclors were rotated and the ones remaining swapped between forward and aft pod seats. As the breeze seemed to soften further inshore, the team lowered the J3 and hoisted their new J1 at 10:30. The yacht was towed back further offshore to find some acceptable pressure. As the tow line was released, the yacht bore away softly to sail downwind in light air. One gybe was executed before the yacht turned up again to practice some light air tacks as the pressure was slowly filling in again. This third foiling sting lasted another 19 minutes.

At 11:10 the pressure was increased to 13-15kn from 295° and hence the J1 was lowered to hoist the J2-7. An engineer was noticed onboard monitoring the jib track and mast rotation plate as the yacht slowly tacked in displacement.

At 11:30, B3 was back on foils after a self-take-off on starboard, tacking to port and straight-line sailing for longer whiles upwind and downwind with occasional manoeuvres. In this 25-minute-long stint, the team seemed to be running through some upwind and downwind modes while the boat seemed more bow-down pitched compared to previous runs.

After a short break, a tow-to-fly followed at 12:10 while the chase boat dropped a leeward gate. At 12:20, what seemed to be an unofficial time on distance practice was observed followed by an upwind and a downwind leg including a JK. During the upwind leg, B3 seemed to be shadow sailing against a virtual opponent considering the tack pattern conducted on the left-hand side of the course. Another similar drill was then observed before three sailors and a pair of cyclors rotated again at 12:50.

The last drill was similar to the two previous ones with B3 entering on port tack, trimming on two boards towards the upper right hand and coming down the line starting its lap. Finally, B3 sailed towards the harbour where the day was called at 13:20 lowering the jib.

The team docked in at 13:35 with 122 minutes foiling time, approx. 35 tacks and 31 gybes [Michele Melis AC Recon].

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