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Cup Spy Dec 13 : Video crews drop in on Luna Rossa...Hamish Willcox on coaching at the Cup

by Richard Gladwell/ 14 Dec 2022 01:24 PST 14 December 2022
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - December 13, 2022 - Cagliari, Sardinia © Ivo Rovira / America'sCup

What happened in the Cup - Dec 13, 2022:

  • Luna Rossa sailed their LEQ12 on the Gulf of Cagliari, with the AC doco-series video crew in attendance
  • American Magic last sailed on Friday, Dec 9
  • 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. They are expected to sail late this week.
  • There has been no progress this week on a final decision on the issue of INEOS Britannia's Instrumentation Pole, which is claimed by others to be a Mast Tube.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, December 13, 2022, Cagliari, Sardinia

The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli base received a visit from the film crew associated with the America's Cup unscripted documentary series by Skydance Sports.

Was this a genuine training day or an opportunity to get some spectacular footage in the can for the Cup video?

The breeze was up when the two-hour session started with Luna Rossa hoisting its mainsail at 1040hrs. The J#4 jib was hoisted 20 minutes later and dropped along with the mainsail at 1245hrs, with the team being back on the dock 15 minutes later. The runs appear to have been short and sailed reasonably close to shore - following Luna Rossa's previous fresh air experience. Earlier in the week, they were caught out offshore in 25kts winds and found on the tow home that conditions were better close to shore.

The presence of the video crew on the AC37 Joint Recon RIB seems to have weighed down the RIB, and they hung well back from the LEQ12. The distance involved makes it hard to tell a lot from the available video. We guess that the best footage of the day will come from the drone.

The Recon team observed that "Considering stronger breeze, the prototype was able to self take off on a course of 80 degrees TWA with 4-5 crew to windward and, using some windward heel, to power up the sails up more for take off."

We have found one video. and image in RFS, which shows four crew stacked to windward, with the video of one moving from the aft quarter around the front of the mast to jump back into a leeward cockpit. It's assumed the LEQ12 gets foiling, but a Luna Rossa chase boat cuts between the Recon boat and the LEQ12 blocking the shot.

In this wind-strength, or any wind-strength for that matter, it seems strange that it is necessary to stack weight in this way, unless it is because they are sailing six-up and have too much weight aboard for easy lift-off. The normal behaviour is for the foiling monohull, sailed four-up, is to just "pop" onto its foils - which takes 1-3 secs.

On both the Kiwi boats, the crews remain in their cockpits during takeoff in light and heavy winds. If the observation is common practice, it points to the Luna Rossa's LEQ12 being sticky - through excessive drag. However, its performance seems quite OK once it is on its foils. The Recon team have not posted any speeds recorded by pacing the LEQ12 in the Recon boat, as other teams have done.

[When in practice sessions in Auckland, we routinely paced the Kiwis in a photoboat, and were able to get an accurate handle on AC75 speeds, and it came as a very pleasant surprise to check these observations against the on-board display speeds shown in the TV coverage of the racing.]

The Recon team reported that today was a "challenging but productive day for the LRPP team in upper limit stronger breeze. The weather front coming from the Gibraltar channel offered the team some more serious conditions with a steady 15kn W breeze channelled through the mountains above Capoterra. Having studied the forecast with the increasing breeze, the team decided to speed up the usual checks and skip some side checks to leave the dock earlier."

"Lots of movement at the LRPP base at Molo Ichnusa as the AC Doco film crew were on site shifting cameras, drones and mics around.

"After dock-out, the team headed towards La Maddalena and Sarroch to find a bit of shelter and be able to sail with flatter waters. With the J4 up and those wind conditions Recon RIB was not entirely able to follow the prototype as AC Docu drone personnel on board. When the sky cleared in the Golfo degli Angeli (aka Gulf of Cagliari), the breeze reached above 22-23kn, and the team called it a day."

In attendance today was Luna Rossa's latest coaching acquisition, top New Zealand and British Olympic coach and three times World Champion 470 sailor Hamish Willcox. He was a common sight on the ETNZ AC75's in the last America's Cup, talking particularly with Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who he coached at the last two Olympics.

In one of the better AC37 Recon team interviews, Willcox compared his current involvement with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli with his previous experience in 2020. "I started with them in the late 90s For their first cup, and everybody was really young and really enthusiastic. It was really well-driven, and a super successful campaign in the 90s. And this one feels the same. We've got a lot of younger guys involved and a good mixture of wisdom and young, enthusiastic people. That combination is a very successful one."

On the weather and training area on the Gulf of Cagliari: "This is a really interesting place to sail, especially in the conditions we've seen this week. You have this large mountainous area to the west with big ridges and valleys, and the breeze has to find its way through that, and it causes a lot of chaos on the water in that direction. And then you have a more northwest direction, through the Mistrale where it's quite channelled through the valley, and provides really nice sailing conditions. From the bit I've seen so far, this week has been really good. Challenging conditions make it quite tough on the sailors. They learn a lot."

"This [today's] breeze is blowing all the way from Gibraltar. So it's a long river of wind, and then it hits here in the bottom of Sardinia. It's got to make its way over these mountains to get into the bay and we saw some pretty hard-hitting, down-sloping gusts today, reaching into the mid and probably high 20s. Whereas yesterday, we had the breeze from the Northwest, and it was quite gentle and channelled through the valley. It was quite stable and good for easing yourself into it."

On how the now three-strong Luna Rossa coaching team works together: "When you're in that role support role, you're just looking to plug any gaps that you can see, and I think every person works slightly differently, and that they see things in a slightly different way. So it's quite a nice mix of personalities, I think, at the moment. Young Jacopo's [Plazzi] doing an amazing job with the overall management of the daily processes."

Philippe Presti is the third coach with Luna Rossa. Presti is a former Finn sailor who has a great reputation as a match racing coach and has had a long association with Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill, going back to the Oracle Racing America's Cup defence of 2013. It was Presti who is credited with unravelling the Kiwi's starting tactics in the 2013 America's Cup, devising counter moves, and triggering the Oracle Racing 9-8pts (11-8 races) win in San Francisco.

"I have known Philippe [Presti] for a long time, and we've done a couple of Cups together already. I know he's going to be really strong and in lots of areas, and I think together the three of us will be able to hopefully plug all the gaps," Willcox adds.

Session Statistics - Cagliari - December 13, 2022 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12
  • Wind Strength 13-16kts (AM) 19-24kts (PM)
  • Wind Direction: W (AM) W (PM)
  • Sea State: (AM) 0.5 Choppy
  • Roll out: 0830hrs Dock Out: 1020hrs
  • Dock In: 1300 hrs Crane out:
  • Total Tacks: 4 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 5 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1

Crew: Jimmy Spithill, Francesco Bruni,Ruggerio Tita, Umberto Molineris, Andrea Tesei, Vittorio Bissaro

Additional Images:

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