America’s Cup: Luna Rossa launched in Barcelona

America’s Cup: Luna Rossa launched in Barcelona

America’s Cup: Luna Rossa launched in Barcelona


26/05/2024 - 07:58

The impressive Italian challenge for the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup stepped up a gear today with the first sailing session from their Port Vell base in Barcelona. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli received a baptism of fire with the Barceloneta racecourse offering 12-16 knots of solid easterly breeze and a short chop – almost certainly what the design team had in mind when crafting a Barcelona-specific AC75. And in those prime conditions, the aesthetically stunning Luna Rossa bristled with outright power and pace.

With now symmetric foils, having fitted a new port foil in Cagliari before shipping to Barcelona, life should have been easier for Jimmy Spithill who steers from the starboard pod but the recon team noted some instability, particularly downwind, so for sure there’s still some bedding in to do. Francesco Bruni, steering in the port pod commented on the foils saying: “I mean it's easier, the asymmetry that we had was a little bit hard to manage in some manoeuvres, so now that we have everything symmetric it's easier in a certain way.”

The Italians also introduced a new windshield for the flight controller/trimmer on the starboard side in the forward pod position that gives a much clearer view than the arrangement they had before with the trimmer able to see the sails and foils. With this very much a commissioning day, the team executed some long upwind and downwind legs, stopping in between to let the tech teams onboard to check everything was running as it should. Finally with the use of Chase Boats and virtual marks, they went into a race format before calling it a day having recorded some 68 minutes of flight time over the two-and-a-half-hour session. A great first day at the venue for the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team.

Speaking about the first sail here in Barcelona, Francesco Bruni, port helm on Luna Rossa commented: “Well first of all we are very happy to be in Barcelona and to train in the official venue. It's a different piece of water for sure, the waves we knew it and today it was proved that they are different from what we trained in Cagliari so it's very important that we do as much sailing as possible in these conditions. We know that it can be also worse than this and today was possibly an average day for the waves so yeah we're super happy to be here in Barcelona.”

And talking about the stability issues that his co-helm Jimmy Spithill appeared to be having when steering on starboard gybe downwind, Francesco commented: “I felt unstable on port as well! I think the waves were definitely something new and it was the first time for Jimmy on that foil so it's a little bit different, also the waves were a little bit asymmetric at times so I think that overall we saw everything today, I don't think they were more stable than us let's put it that way and a lot of the time stability doesn't mean speed so sometimes you are stable and you're faster so we don't know that but we felt pretty good, the boat felt good, Jimmy was happy to steer for the first time on that new foil and yeah it was a very good day for the team.”

NYYC American Magic were the first to dock-out today at 10am keen to trial their new M1 mainsail in the lighter morning conditions. Garnished with a million tell tales, this new, slightly bigger mainsail appeared to give the trimmers a lot of confidence and over the next five hours, as the wind steadily increased, they more than put it through its paces as they completed three races with virtual marks and some 141 minutes of active foiling time. A total of 70 manoeuvres were completed at an 87% foiling rate – impressive by any standards. Please also note the calculations in the report below of VMG speeds attained over the racecourse.

Speaking afterwards, sail designer Juan Mesegeur commented on the session, saying: “It was a great day, we started very early, the earliest team today on the water, we wanted to get some of the lighter wind in the morning because it was a new main and when you start loading it, we just wanted to take it easy with the loads and how you sail with the sail and it was great because the wind came up is slowly not brutally so quite slowly so was great for us to verify all the new design of the new M1...The only thing I can tell you is that it’s slightly bigger and we’re testing, obviously like other teams, different sizes of mainsails and this one is just a touch bigger.”

And commenting on the barrage of tell tales that American Magic runs all over the sails and key deck areas, Juan said: “I think everyone is in the same place, everyone is keen to know what's happening on the surface of the aero side - it could be the sail, it could be the mast, the interaction with the jib, with the back of the mainsail so those tell tales tell us few things that we are interested also you know, some on the deck, just to see all interaction of how everything works together...I think everybody is trying to push the aero for the best performance and then also learn how to get more forgiveness on the trim and go through the waves when it's bumpy so it's nothing new it's just push the limits and then back off a little bit.”

For Alinghi Red Bull Racing, a terrific overnight effort from the shore team to repair the damaged rudder from yesterday, saw the boat emerge from the shed in pristine A1 condition for another day at the office at pace. Today onboard, the Swiss mixed things up with the talented Nicolas Rolaz taking up a trimming position and from the outset, after an initial upwind and downwind sighter, it was all-on for the youngster as Maxime Bachelin and Arnaud Psarofaghis performed their usual “S” and “zero” training manoeuvres that require huge co-ordination and accuracy. Nicolas more than passed the test.

Going into fast laps and pre-starts, this was a solid afternoon of nearly five hours of training with the team getting more confident in the platform and executing their pre-start manoeuvres aggressively. Often the preferred option was to run in the pre-start areas with both boards down before the time-on-distance leg into the line at the gun. Also observable was how much lower they ran the ride height today and moded the boat with a bit of leeward heel and deep cant to effectively ‘stand’ on the immersed foil.

Speaking afterwards, Arnaud Psarofaghis complimented the build team for getting the boat back on the water so fast, saying: “The shore team did a really good job to fix it overnight and today we were sailing with the same rudder as yesterday and we couldn't feel any different, really great work from the team, and it was really a minor issue I think that we probably hit something in the water that made the damage.”

And talking about having Nicolas Rolaz on the boat, Arnaud added: “It was first time for Nicolas Rolaz) to be on the trimmer post on BoatOne and I think you just need to get used to it but it was a really good day we did a lot of tricky manoeuvres in a challenging condition as well, but really good is going pretty well (between helm and trimmers), we started it yesterday I think or the day before and we did some fine tuning on what we wanted to improve and today was a perfect day to do that. We can still get better at it and if we can get to the level where we were with the AC40 in the AC75, we will be in a really good position.”

Asked if there were still positions on the boat up for grabs, Arnaud left the door wide open saying: “The racing team is still open for every position, even the helmsman, trimmer, flight controller and the cyclors - of course we’re never going to jump on the bike but between them they will rotate.”

Down in Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand went hard into two-boat race practice with the LEQ12 being half equalised by running a one-design foil on port which made the lead backs into the starting line on starboard tack far more even in terms of speed differential. Once again Josh Junior and Sam Meech were making life tough for Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge and with wind gusts of up to 20 knots, this was all-out racing at the very highest level.

The big game in town was staying on the foils in the final circling manoeuvres and on more than one occasion a turn just too tight would result in a rapid splashdown and effectively end the race and give the other boat a big advantage. On the racecourse itself over short-course laps, it was tight and almost synchronised covering had a huge effect on the trailing yacht such were vortexes coming off the sails.

On the way back home, Nathan Outteridge swapped helming roles with Josh Junior and there was a bit of drama as the clew-board ripped from the sailcloth of the starboard skin on the one-design AC40 which was running LEQ12 sails. The sailors stopped and de-rigged to tow back to the base.

Earlier in the day with the winds around 12 knots, the Women & Youth teams docked-out early to continue getting their valuable on-water time up and the recon team spoke to Olympic Nacra 17 representative, Erica Dawson, who is due to travel to Marseille next week to work up for the Games. Speaking about the training and the day, Erica said: “It was awesome a bit more breeze today, we just wanted to get some manoeuvres down and get some pre-start work in so just trying to up the hours on the boat and throw a few manoeuvres’s so cool learning so much every day and I guess every hour on the water counts so yeah it's been really cool.”

A truly great day of sailing both in Barcelona and Auckland and all eyes this weekend will be on the Orient Express Racing Team base with word reaching us that they will be stepping the mast on Saturday afternoon. NYYC American Magic and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will continue training over the weekend too. It’s all happening as the race for the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup ramps up. (Magnus Wheatley)


America’s Cup: Orient Express showcase stunning design and livery
America’s Cup: Orient Express showcase stunning design and livery