Roberto Lacorte: “So I decided to change the rules of the game by flying.”

flyingnikka roberto lacorte
Roberto Lacorte’s FlyingNikka in flight

In the Journal of Sailing we host FlyingNikka owner Roberto Lacorte‘s article in which he explains why the time was ripe for a 19-meter maxi flying boat. The piece is within the feature “Fish vs. Birds,” or traditional boats vs. flying boats, published in the July Sailing Newspaper on newsstands and digitally.

“Why I decided to change the rules of the game — by flying.”

Many people have asked me. Was this the time to launch FlyingNikka? Was the time ripe for a 19-meter maxi with foils with which to tackle offshore racing? Yes, it was. At least for me. After the experience of flying AC75s in the America’s Cup, data came out, technologies that can support a project like ours. A project that has the ambition to combine flying and sailing with new goals that are not limited to inshore racing, but also – and especially – offshore. It could be done, we did it.

Some people wrinkled their noses. But how will it be done for compensated time racing?Is it possible to compare FlyingNikka with traditional boats? “. It’s quickly said: the boat will have its own rating, or rather its own calculation system, because otherwise there would be unacceptable discrepancies with displacement hulls.

flyingnikka roberto lacorte 3

The ORC carried out a study of the boat’s performance in various conditions, in collaboration with FlyingNikka’s design team: based on this data, a certificate was issued that takes into account the boat’s different characteristics, creating a dedicated algorithm so as not to go against traditional non-foiling boats.

Think about it. It’s kind of like when canting keel boats came in., the canting keel, which opened up a new scenario. Or as happened in the case of the DSS (Dynamic Stability System, the horizontal appendages to improve the righting moment of the boat, as well as also promoting a slight upward thrust, the so-called lifting, ed.). Innovative boats, require innovative rating systems.

In an initial “break-in” phase, however, in agreement with RORC and ORC the algorithm will be extremely conservative: a boat like FlyingNikka in terms of fee races will be at a great disadvantage. Also because it is not winning on compensated time that is our focus: FlyingNikka was created to break records on long real-time sailing.

The boat represents the application of new technologies in offshore sailing. A transition, a breakup, a challenge, call it what you will. Both in terms of planning and conducting. So many people say, superficially in my opinion, that it is easy to win on FlyingNikka.

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To them I reply: it is not so. Accepting such a challenge is difficult in itself, starting with the design of the project. We could have made a huge boat, like Skorpios (the 43-meter Maxi made by Nautor’s Swan, ed.), to secure regatta wins in real time. But no. With a boat that is less than half the length of Skorpio and costs less than a Maxi 72, with the help of technology you can achieve amazing results.

But you have to earn them. There are conditions in which FlyingNikka is extremely difficult to lead: in extremely weak winds, for example, or in heavy seas. Quite a challenge, don’t you think? If we wanted to keep it simple, we would have built a 40-meter displacement to win in real time while staying in our “comfort zone.”

But what fun is that? With FlyingNikka, on the other hand, even if we don’t win we have the time of our lives, because I wish anyone to be able to board such a boat. Get off board that you have chills. Sailing, after all, is also this. It is to enjoy fun navigation: traditional, and non-traditional.

I close with an answer to another question that many people have asked me, What is the future of FlyingNikka? ” There are two. That of boat development and offshore racing in the Mediterranean, because learning how to use FlyingNikka takes hours and hours of flying. And then, in parallel, there is the desire to meet the demands of shipowners who want to make a boat similar to ours and start a new class run by a “box rule,” like the Maxi 72s. A spectacular, ultra-fun class to experience and see, above criticism.

Good wind and good flying to all!

Roberto Lacorte*

Roberto Lacorte
Roberto Lacorte

*Roberto Lacorte was born in Pisa in 1968. In 2003 he founded, with his brother Andrea, the pharmaceutical company Pharmanutra. As a young man he went on dinghies, in ’87 he entered the sailing world with a Comet 28 Race. Then a Vismara 34, a 47 and SuperNikka, the Vismara Mills 62. He is now the owner of the Maxi foiling FlyingNikka, the first offshore Mini Maxi in history.

Photos of Roberto Lacorte’s FlyingNikka mini maxi flying machine are by Fabio Taccola

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