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America's Cup Rialto: November 9 - Luna Rossa dodges storm

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World NZ 9 Nov 03:25 PST 7 November 2020
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - November 8 - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell /

Italian Challenger Luna Rossa was the only team to venture on the water today. They were out on Saturday along with American Magic. The British team INEOS Team UK sailed alone yesterday, Sunday - and mostly out of sight.

Today was a mixed bag of breeze with a NW blowing up to 15kts around midday, before dropping away to almost nothing. In the first phase of the breeze, the Italians made a fast foiling run up the Rangitoto Channel and return, before the breeze dropped for the first time (see video below).

They dropped their main and waited on the end of a towline off the stern of their tender before the breeze returned in sufficient strength to enable the black hulled AC75 to make a short run down the Rangitoto Channel and across to Motuihe and return, before the breeze crumped out for a second time, and for the day.

Looming over the City and west Auckland was a massive slowly advancing rain and thunderstorm, which sucked the wind out of the America's Cup courses - a very unusual set of conditions for Auckland.

Rather than have the breeze come in at 4.00pm ready for racing as planned for the America's Cup and Prada Cup, the breeze vanished .

Luna Rossa made the right decision to tow in, hauling out around 4.00pm - with thunderstorm hitting less than an hour later.

This was the third time we have had a good look at Luna Rossa. On the first chasing American Magic around Course E between Eastern Beach/Maraetai and Waiheke Island, the Italians didn't look like they were at race pace - just testing the boat after a week in the hangar. Last Friday, sailing with all three - but in a much less coordinated manner than their serendipitous encounter with American Magic - they didn't stand out from the bunch. But neither did anyone else.

We missed seeing them on Saturday due to a family occasion, but saw the video of them (below) where Luna Rossa looked like she was being driven hard, and looked to be seriously into their work.

Yesterday was harder with the breeze having dropped for the first time when we arrived. After 30 minutes or so it picked up - not a lot but enough to get foiling. They did look slow to get on their foils - whether that was just part of the startup routine, or a deeper issue remains to be seen.

Once up they looked quick enough - using ETNZ's Te Aihe as a benchmark. However it must be remembered that the teams don't always sail at race pace - except if benchmark testing one component (like a wing) against the one on the other side.

[We can't find a laser speed reading device that is reasonable in price and effective at over 500metres, so it is eyeballing speed only at this stage.)

Luna Rossa did a bearaway - which didn't look that quick and then straightened up for a long run from just short of Rangitoto beacon to Browns Island - a distance of 3.6nm. The clean simple approach of Luna Rossa to their design package looks good on the water.

On the mental checklist - Luna Rossa's flight height looked appropriate and constant. Fore and aft trim was level and constant. Can't recall seeing any touchdowns - and if there were they were very minor and her underbody worked.

No nosedives, or uncontrolled alterations in trim. The turn at Browns Island looked sharp and controlled, as did all the others we saw yesterday. Luna Rossa didn't drop off her foils on the critical point after a gybe tack - usually after 15 secs or so when the new windward foil is raised, and the foiling is not producing full lift on the new foil.

We didn't see Luna Rossa sailing close-hauled and then going through sharp race-pace tacks without crashing out - which is really the test.

This is the point of difference between the new AC75 race boats and Te Aihe. Helmsman Peter Burling frequently demonstrated the ability to throw Te Aihe around like his 49er, and doing fast dry tacks when sailing close hauled.

But for Luna Rossa, like American Magic, it is so far, so good and we'd guess that they are happy with the progress with just five days on the water.

To date we haven't seen a lot of INEOS Team UK, save for one early run down the Rangitoto Channel, and staying well distant in last Friday's three boat dance session on Course D and beyond. On Sunday the Brits were the only ones to head out around 1230hrs, went behind Browns Island and then disappeared for several hours returning about 5.00pm.

Calling all Cup Fans - your team needs you

This America's Cup will be different for international fans, who thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions into New Zealand won't be able to attend the regatta, unless they hold, a New Zealand passport and are prepared to live in two weeks of quarantine.

But you can still show your support for the team and feel part of the event - at racing watch parties and similar.

Or order now for a unique Christmas gift for that special America's Cup fan you know.

Get your favorite team clothing from the official supplier for all teams and the America's Cup event.

For American Magic's range click on

For Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli's range click on

For INEOS Team UK's range click on

For Emirates Team New Zealand's range click on

For the America's Cup AC36 Event range of clothing and kit click on

For the North Sails AC36 range of clothing and kit click on

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