America’s Cup: here’s how Luna Rossa fares with the new foil and Gradoni at the helm

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Luna Rossa foiling
Luna Rossa in training in Cagliari, the new appendage is noted. AC Recon Photos

For Luna Rossa Prada Pirellt’s time to pack your bags, pack up the new AC 75, and fly to Barcelona where the final phase of preparation toward the America’s Cup 2024, for what promises to be a very hot sailing summer, as we await the first official regattas starting August 22.

Already in Port Vell are Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Ineos Britannia, and American Magic; coming up next is the Italian team and the defender Team New Zealand. Only Orient Express Team France, which will launch its new AC 75 by May, is missing from the roll call.

How is the new Luna Rossa

It’s been a busy few days in Cagliari over the past few weeks, with Luna Rossa stepping up the level of training in both tight breeze and light wind conditions, finally showing off one of the new foils. The latter topic is very sensitive, because we remember that appendages were one of the reasons for the performance gap between the Italian and New Zealand boats in the last final.

Luna Rossa's new foil
Luna Rossa’s new foil, flat and long, apparently with little curvature, but equipped with a very sharp “ticket.”

At the moment Luna Rossa showed only one of the new foils, training with the boat in asymmetrical trim: on the left (starboard tack) the old foil, on the right (port tack) the new one. The reason why the Italian team is testing only a new appendage and not the pair is not known, but one can speculate. With the Protocol stipulating that only three foils can be made, a pair plus a spare piece, the margin for error here is also minimized.

Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that Luna Rossa is trying out what will be the third foil, testing it to evaluate possible solutions to be applied on what will instead be the main pair of appendages to come.

The new appendage appears as we imagined it, narrow and long, an evolution of the foils introduced by Team New Zealand in the last Cup. There does not appear to be a pronounced curve on the profile, as there appears somewhat more on Alinghi foils.

Instead, Alionghi’s foil seems to show a sharper curvature. America’s Cup Recon.

This may contain an attempt to “play” with material deformation, a card that Alinghi seems to be banking on instead (when the boat is “slow,” the appendage remains curved with more lift to flatten out when the boat accelerates and reduce drag). The most important thing, however, is that the foil shown by Luna Rossa certainly has a much smaller surface area than the old generation, because any small saving of inches immersed in the water can turn into a large performance increase.

And speaking of performance, the official Recon reports tell of a Luna Rossa in good shape, virtually in all wind conditions managing to sail smoothly with effective takeoffs and repeated maneuvers on the foils. Most of the windward-leeward rests were done with the new appendage, a clear sign of a desire to test it to evaluate its performance and possible modifications.

With 15 knots of wind the Italian boat, left tack so with the new foil at work, was read by the spies around 37 knots upwind, between 43 and 44 aft. Numbers apparently still some distance from those reported for Team New Zealand, but at this stage ratings matter little, at least until the level of development of the new AC 75s reaches a significantly more advanced level

Who is sailing on Luna Rossa

Predictably, Ruggero Tita is not currently conducting training with AC 75. The final part of the preparation toward the Paris Olympics with the Nacra 17 is in full swing, with Tita and Caterina Banti also playing for the World Class.

It is likely that in the coming months the Trentino helmsman will touch the wheel of the AC 75 a few times, but he will have to devote more time to the Nacra 17. We will then see how Max Sirena will go about his choice of helmsmen in light of this aspect as well.

Space then is made for the trio of Bruni, Spithill and Gradoni, with the latter having almost the same training hours on 75 as the two veterans. In fact, the young man was employed at the helm in every outing, even starting a few times in the “starter” position and then alternating with the other two.

The trimmers rotating at the moment are three, the two titled Andrea Tesei and Umberto Molineris, with the inclusion of Vittorio Bissaro who is likely to be one of those who will certainly rotate aboard for the official races. All “grinder cyclists” were also tried in rotation.

Mauro Giuffrè

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