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Cup Spy Dec 6 : Luna Rossa and American Magic back on the training track

by Richard Gladwell/ 6 Dec 2022 16:23 PST 7 December 2022
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - December 6, 2022 - Cagliari, Sardinia © Ivo Rovira / America'sCup

What happened in the Cup - Dec 6, 2022:

  • Luna Rossa sailed their LEQ12 on the Gulf of Cagliari, their first time out since their aborted training session four days ago.
  • American Magic sailed out of Pensacola also for the first time in four days.They stayed inside Pensacola Bay sailing a variety of legs and angles
  • INEOS Britannia stayed in the shed in Barcelona
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing went into the shed in Barcelona on November 16, for upgrades and is yet to emerge
  • Emirates Team New Zealand are repairing their AC40/LEQ20 after a violent nosedive on November 21. There is no date announced when it will begin sailing.
  • A further decision on the issue of INEOS Britannia's Instrumentation Pole, was issued on December 5 by the Measurement Committee which supported their previous interpretation that the Pole was Mast Tube, and counted as one of their allowance of just one Mast Tube for their LEQ12.
  • Francesco Bruni (Luna Rossa helmsman) won the Masters Championship at the Int Moth Worlds in Argentina, and placed 6th overall in the Open fleet, winning the last two races.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - December 6, 2022 - Day 13

Tuesday was described by both the Luna Rossa crew and the AC37 Recon Team as being quite a productive day on the Golfo di Cagliari, also known as Golfo degli Angeli - a large bay in southern Sardinia, Italy, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The Italians' sailing session started early morning with land breeze of Maestrale (NW) of 9-12kt accompanied by a dying residual SE swell from the weekend. Morning temperatures were a coldish 10 degreesC with a sea fog, which burnt off as the morning progressed and the temperature increased to 16 degreesC. The wind lightened around noon, ending the session in the early afternoon.

Current Olympic champion in the Nacra 17 class, Ruggerio Tita, one of the co-helmsmen for Luna Rossa, told AC37 Recon that "we had some tests on the autopilot. We also had some manoeuvres to practice and we had a very good day."

Despite being off the water for three days, the team say they had made almost no changes to the LEQ12, during the break.

The on the water Recon team noted that "it has been observed that different ride heights have been tested in several up-and down-wind courses, perhaps switching and alternating between manual and autopilot improving these controls with the residuary swell."

On the LEQ12's there are no restrictions other than overall hull length and numbers of permitted components. The foil arms and wingfoils are unrestricted in length, and it will be interesting to see what options the teams try to maybe overcome issues with a bigger expected sea state in Barcelona. Although in Cagliari, the Luna Rossa team are sailing on the same Mediterranean Sea, as the 2024 America's Cup venue of Barcelona, as are INEOS Britannia, based in Mallorca.

In the 35 video clips shot of the Italians practice session, and posted in the Recon File System database, only a few show the LEQ12 having obvious flight control issues.

It must be remembered that the videos only cover a very small percentage of the four hour sailing session. When testing flight control, the team are working to a test script, and what to the viewer appears to be an issue, may be an induced condition to check recovery action - by the actual flight controller and/or the autopilot. Only those on board the LEQ12 and maybe its tender, know whether the LEQ12 is on auto or manual control, and where there is a test script in play, or an episode is due to operator error.

On Luna Rossa we again saw the team sailing six-up in their LEQ12. The allowed crew on an AC75 is eight sailors. From that we can probably guess that two of the six are doing flight control, since we have been told previously that part of the reason for being able to sail six-up is to facilitate crew training. Unless there were serious issues with the manual flight control, we can assume that for most of the time the LEQ12 was being flown in a manual state.

On the video, of which we have watched all 35 clips from Tuesday, the LEQ12 is shown in a variety of ride heights varying from being quite high out of the water, to being as close to the water's surface as possible, to achieve the best possible end-plate effect between the surface Hull and Rig.

The high ride height is interesting given Luna Rossa's comments on the previous sailing day that the maximum swell height for the LEQ12 was about 700-800mm.

In an effort to catch up the three weeks lost sailing time when their LEQ12's mast fell backwards during rigging by the shore team, Tita told the Recon team that between now and Xmas their plans were to "just to take as many sailing days as we can, and try to make this a big push until Christmas."

The Recon team following Luna Rossa observed that during take-off in a stronger breeze, the Italians increased the righting moment of the LEQ12 by moving four crew to windward, and then switching back to three a side, once they were foiling. In lighter airs the 12 metre LEQ12, a half-scale AC75, was often towed onto its foils by a RIB, before being released to free-sail.

During this session the Italian team had a few issues with the boomless mainsail - with it being checked several times during sailing session.

Two jibs were used. The biggest a J#1 for the first and last hour of the training session, and the smaller J#2 being used for 45 minutes in the middle of the session when the wind strengthened to 9-12 kts.

On the videos there was only one clip of a tack/gybe with a team chase boat cutting between the Recon boat and the LEQ12 obscuring the video. However 22 tacks/gybes were completed with only three resulting in solid contact with the surface of the sea, and 15 being dry tacks/gybes or a 70% success rate. These are good stats considering the wind-strength of 9-12kts and that there are likely to be inconsistent pressure in some areas of the Gulf of Angels.

Session Statistics - Cagliari - December 2, 2022 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12

  • Wind Strength 9-12kts (AM) 5-8kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: NW (AM) NW (PM)
  • Weather: 10 degreesC, clouds and thick fog (AM) 16 degreesC cloudy scattered (PM)
  • Sea State: (AM) 0.5m SE (PM) 0.5m SE
  • Roll out: 0545hrs Dock Out: 0815hrs
  • Dock In: 1230hrs Crane out: 1430hrs
  • Total Tacks: 10 - Fully foiling: 6; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 12 - Fully foiling: 9; Touch & Go: 2; Touch Down: 1

Crew: Jimmy Spithill, Ruggero Tita, Vittorio Bissaro, Umberto Molineris, Andrea Tesei, Marco Gradoni

American Magic - AC75 Version 2 - Pensacola - December 6, 2022 - Day 17

Light winds restricted American Magic's sailing time to just 46 minutes of foiling, with flight times ranging from 4 minutes to 12 minutes.

The session started in winds of 8kts - well above the minimum for AC75 racing of 6.5kts, but faded gradually to 4kts at the end of the session.

Despite the light winds, Patriot performed impressively covering 35nm consisting of six windward/leeward legs. Speeds were estimated at approximately 30k upwind, and 38k downwind according to the Recon team's GPS onboard their chase boat. The USA team is sailing at between 3x and 4x windspeed - which is very good.

"Today was really, really good day actually," said sail designer Juan Meseguer. "It was very marginal taking off, or foiling conditions. We had a lot of good actions and good manoeuvres today. We thought the day was going to be really bad, but it turned out to be really, really good."

"We have some issues, as always, you know, with some of the battens, but nothing major. We're going to have it fixed for tomorrow."

"Basically, this [period going into Christmas] is our systems period," Meseguer explained. "We're going to make sure every system works as as best as best we can, and improve every other day - until we get it perfect for the next block."

"We had some good really good manoeuvres where we gybe very nicely and tack very nicely. So I think it's very good," he added.

A total of 29 tacks/gybes were attempted with 23 of these being dry. That is an 80% success rate - which is exceptional in the light conditions. While that may be attributable to the brilliance of the Patriot crew, it is also testament to the changes that have been made to the AC75 class rule, lightening the boat from the 2021 edition.

Only one of the three jibs, a J#1, loaded aboard the American Magic tender was used.

Tom Slingsby arrived via tender after the first sailing session. One confirmed, possibly two new cyclists were observed on board today.

Session Statistics - Pensacola - December 6, 2022 - American Magic - AC75 V1.5

  • Wind Strength 8kts (AM) 4kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: SE (AM) SE (PM)
  • Sea State: <1ft(AM) <1ft (PM)
  • Roll out: 1120hrs Dock Out: 1302hrs
  • Dock In: 1630hrs Crane out: 1700hrs
  • Total Tacks: 12 - Fully foiling: 10; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 2
  • Total Gybes: 17 - Fully foiling: 13; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 4

Crew: Tom Slingsby, Colton Hall, Riley Gibbs, John Croom, Dan Morris, Lucas Calabrese, Terry Hutchinson

Additional Images:

This commentary was written and compiled from video, still images and statistical content extracted from the AC37 Joint Recon program and other material available to Sail-World NZ including photo files, and other on the water coverage from the 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups.

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