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Drive It Like You Stole It


  • Drive It Like You Stole It


    Glassy seas, but an ominous sky greeted the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team out today deep in the Gulf of Cagliari – the Golfu de Casteddu in local Sardinian- and with a forecast for the wind to increase significantly but some debate and conflict over quite how much and when, it was a tricky day for the team’s meteorologists. It was even harder actually on the water as the team docked out from their quite astonishingly well-appointed base in the Port of Cagliari at midday having spent the morning waiting for the wind.

    When it came, it really came and in an instant, the almost romantic-looking bay whipped itself into a frenzy and the sailors had it all on.

    Having launched the J1 (the biggest jib) “just for fun” as Max Sirena, the eloquent Team Director explained, they quickly went straight for the J4 (the smallest) as a solid 18 knots brought in a hefty east-south-easterly swell measuring 0.7 metres that felt and certainly looked on the video and the photos like a lot more.

    The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli LEQ12 was up and flying in quick order, hitting speeds of 18-19 knots upwind but what all the teams are finding with these smaller foilers is that downwind, especially in waves, they are a handful to control due to the increased ride height with the ever-present danger of broaches or loss of rudder foil. And the issue of backing these boats off is a tough one but the Italians, with Jimmy Spithill and Ruggero Tita driving hard, bore off in some 20 knots of breeze and as Max Sirena said: “It was fine but with such a small boat when it is so ‘wavey’ and with this wind direction it was getting bumpy pretty quickly, you know it’s getting hard, and you know if you slow down too much there is a chance you could flip over.”

    And flip over they did, having attached a tow rope and with a crewmember up on the bow, it was one of those slow-motion capsizes that we’ve seen before where the flow over the foils stalls and with a bit a heel, the result is inevitable. It looks rather dramatic but it’s certainly something that we are getting used to seeing with the AC40 and the LEQ12s on occasion. One thing’s for certain, the team onboard Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were the coolest cats in town with (we think) Ruggero Tita slinging a leg over the side of the capsized vessel to be comfortable whilst the first-class shore-team went about their business to right the LEQ12 in short order. It’s a well-practised drill.

    “Part of the game,” was how Max Sirena brilliantly described it and went on: “We righted the boat quickly and the plan was to keep sailing but the breeze was, for about 5 minutes, over 21-22 knots, so we decided to drop the sails mainly because of the waves, not the wind.” It was a good call but there were no dramas or breakages onboard and the most striking yacht of this America’s Cup cycle so far, docked back in at 3.20pm safe and sound.

    From a recon perspective, much speculation has been given to the Italian crew numbers with six sailors squeezed into the trenches, three either side. Suggestions had been made as to the defined roles onboard, but Sirena cleared that up, saying: “That was the plan from day one to go with more ballast, more righting momentum and we’re going to keep playing that until the end…and we’re going to see the big guys start jumping onboard and get used to the speed – these boats are pretty fast. We reached speeds over 44 knots today, so it was good fun.”

    It has been a very good week for the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team who have bounced back ahead of schedule after their incident where the mast was dropped dockside. The shore team have done a terrific job to get the boat back in A1 condition and the sailors look very much on their game putting in some blistering runs this week with a new port foil to test. The recon teams noticed a new camera at the masthead on the port side looking downwards and have noted some powerful jib and mast co-ordination at the point of take-off as the boat hits foiling speed before hardening up onto the wind. Good data will have been extracted for the technicians and design teams shoreside and this Italian programme is very much back on track and operating at full tilt.

    Forza Italia!

    On-Water Recon Unit Notes: Unusual day for the LRPP team. The sailing session started with less than 5 NW, dropping completely at 13:00 until the stronger breeze from E filled in the gulf at 13:40. Quickly the gusts reached 21 kt and incoming ESE swell of 0.7 meters.

    After taking off, the LEQ12 came up on a beam reach course, and after the first and only successful tack it touched down, bearing away slightly afterwards, and having reached low boat speed (with tow line attached) it capsized slowly. The righting of the LEQ12 happened pretty quickly, a bucket was being passed on board for the water below deck. The wind had increased with the swell and the team decided to call it a day.

    Onboard Today:
    Helms: Jimmy Spithill / Ruggero Tita
    Trimmers: Marco Gradoni / Umberto Molineris
    Flight Control: Vittorio Bissaro / Andrea Tesei

    Sails Used:
    Mainsail M1: 2 hours 30 minutes
    Jib J1: 40 minutes
    Jib J4: 30 minutes

    Conditions: 16-21 knots (PM), 16 degrees, Cloudy,

    Wind: Easterly (PM) with a 0.7m swell from ESE

    Last edited by Photoboy; 12-06-2022, 12:50 PM.
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