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Cup Spy Mar 10: Luna Rossa hits the Big 50?

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 11 Mar 05:11 PST 12 March 2023
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Day 39 - March 10, 2023 - Cagliari © Ivo Rovira / America'sCup

After a shorter-than-planned sail on Friday, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was out on the Gulf of Cagliari wanting to get in a solid session in the Maestrale, which was forecast to blow at 14-17kts gusting 25kts. As team boss Max Sirena noted in the dockside interview, most of their almost 40 sailing days have been in light weather. With their AC75 raceboat construction expected to start in a few months, the Italian team say they need more performance data in a big breeze.

What happened in the Cup - March 10, 2023:

  • Luna Rossa sailed from Cagliari in the fresh breeze of the Maestrale. They spent two hours on the water, with the session coming to an early end soon after a serious nosedive.
  • American Magic last sailed their AC40 on March 9 out of Pensacola. They decommissioned their 2021 AC75 just over a month ago on February 4, having sailed it for around 40 days, mostly in the flat water of Pensacola Bay.
  • Emirates Team New Zealand did not sail and is not expected to sail until after SailGP Christchurch next weekend. They are expected to launch their winning AC75 Te Rehutai - which will be modified to test rule changes introduced for the 2024 America's Cup.
  • INEOS Britannia did not sail their AC40, and their LEQ12 test boat was damaged over three weeks ago after it capsized and had a lithium battery fire.
  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing did not sail either their AC40 or AC75. They are the only team to be based in the 2024 America's Cup venue of Barcelona.
  • No further news from the Orient Express Team (formerly K-Challenge).

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - March 10, 2023 - Day 39

Luna Rossa sailed their custom design LEQ12 - they are only one of two teams (INEOS Britannia are the other) who have designed their own test boat, which must be less than or equal to 12 metres long (hence the name LEQ12). Unlike the other test boats (LEQ12's or AC40 hulls), Luna Rossa can sail their test boat (and usually do) with six crew on board instead of being a 4-manner like the others.

The two extra crew mean that Luna Rossa carries more weight (about 200kgs), making lift-off more difficult. However, once foil-borne, the Italian LEQ12 is a viable test platform. The Italian LEQ12 has the benefit of being able to carry only two crew (grinders/cyclists) short of the eight permitted on the AC75. It allows the sailing crew to develop and interact like they would on a fully crewed AC75.

In the dockside interview after the training session, Sirena was asked by the AC37 Recon Team for "a hint regarding any maximum boatspeed."

For some reason, the teams are very reluctant to disclose the speeds of their test boats, despite it being relatively easy to gauge using a pace boat and reading that boat's speedo. The speeds from the racing in the 2021 America's Cup are all readily available from the TV/Youtube broadcast of the racing, along with windspeed recorded on the boats. So why the secrecy?

Several times the various AC37 Joint Recon teams have published their recon RIB speed pacing their target boat. The fastest speed (during a race) for any foiler is 54kts by an F50 sailing in a Season 3 SailGP Regatta. The fastest by an AC75 is American Magic's 53.31kts during the Semi-Finals of the 2021 Prada Cup. Some teams have alluded to beating the 50kt mark in the current Cup cycle.

The AC37 Recon Team stalking the Swiss America's Cup team, reported a couple of days ago that their AC75 target yacht had reached close to 50kts. Several of the Recon teams reported that they had been chasing an AC40/LEQ12/AC75 at their RIB's top speed of 47kts, only to have their target boat sail away from them. The Luna Rossa-supplied Recon boat is only capable of 42kts and will always struggle to hold an AC40/LEQ12 or AC75. The fact is that foiling America's Cup AC75 yachts and their smaller test boats handle a seaway much better than their attendant recon boats.

"I think today we clearly reached a big number," Sirena replied. We guess his "big number" is 50kts - or more, which would "only" be twice the windspeed.

"We were waiting for a good Maestrale so we could go back on the water in a higher range of wind and boat speed," Sirena continued. "This was important for us for our main development process. We were expecting a big breeze coming on between 20 to 26 knots.

"In the last few weeks, we sailed in not much wind, and it was important to go back out on the stronger breeze - for the sailors, for the boat, and for the designers as well - to get data in every condition.

"Everyone, more or less in the next couple of months, will make the decision on what their big boat [AC75 race boat] is going to look like. And so it's important to be back on the water in a stronger breeze."

Addressing today's nosedive, Sirena explained: "We were already sailing in more than 23-25 knots. It was the last bear-away of the day, and like always in the last bear-away, anything can happen. We just decided after the big nose dive to head back at the dock and do a proper check and make sure the boat is ready to sail in the next couple of days."

No video or images are available of the nosedive. However, the same trick was performed yesterday, on a smaller scale, without any apparent cause, such as the rudder elevator jumping clear of the water. The Luna Rossa LEQ12's bow shape performed as it should, throwing the water clear and lifting the bow.

Earlier in March, the Arbitration Panel gave their decision on an issue raised by Luna Rossa over the correct delivery order of AC40's. Sirena was asked to elaborate on when the Italians expected to receive their AC40 and their plans for it.

"The boat is going to leave China early next week," he replied. "So it's going to be the middle of April. And the plan as soon as we get the boat is to get it in the water and check it.

"It is going to be interesting to see a different boat and compare what we have now. We're looking forward to seeing the boat, but our main focus at the moment is still our LEQ12 - and all the development programme is on schedule, and we need to stick with that."

Asked about their more immediate plans: "we will see tomorrow if we are going to go sailing or not.

"There's probably going to be a big Maestrale. So probably we're going to stay on land. We're going to be back in the water as soon as the conditions are good. So I guess Monday or Tuesday, we're going to be back in the water."

From the AC37 Joint Recon Team:

The LRPP team rolled out their LEQ12 prototype at 7:30am, stepped the mast and craned it in undergoing the usual protocol checks quicker as dockout was scheduled for 9:00am.

As for the previous sailing day, it has been observed that the foil wings have been swapped between starboard and portside with respectively newly painted wing tips.

The forecast looked quite strong with upper range pure steady NW maestrale between 14-17 kn with gusts up to 25 kn.

To hoist the smaller main M2 with the J4 the team headed towards la sella del diavolo. The sailing action started with the first self take off on portside tack with the usual leeward crew members sitting on windward deck while the LEQ12 headed slightly offshore for straight line testing completing some first gybes.

Considering the wind conditions and Recon RIB not exceeding 42kn it has been challenging to follow the LEQ12 downwind before it turned up executing a series of tacks and taking a break for crew swapping.

The breeze increased and once completed the first 35 minutes foiling, a second self take off on starboard tack was executed heading upwind towards Capoterra where a significant nose dive after the bear away was observed after approx 10 minutes foiling ride.

It is unclear whether it resulted in any breakage but the team opted for calling it a day to have a check at the dock. [Michele Melis AC-Recon]

Session Statistics - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - LEQ12 - Cagliari - March 10, 2023 Day 39

    • Weather: Sunny 17°F
    • Wind Strength 14-16kts > 17-19kts
    • Wind Direction: NW Maestrale (Mistral) breeze
    • Sea State: Not recorded
    • Roll out: 0730hrs Dock Out: 0900hrs
    • Dock In: 1115hrs Crane out: 1230hrs
    • Total Tacks: 3 - Fully foiling: 2; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0
    • Total Gybes: 4 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 0

    Crew: Francesco Bruni, Marco Gradoni, Ruggero Tita, Andrea Tesei, Umberto Molineris, Vittorio Bissaro

    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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