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Straight out of the box
Italian America's Cup challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli becomes the fourth team to take flight in the build up to the 37th America’s Cup
Following on the heels of the Swiss squad Alinghi Red Bull Racing in Barcelona, Spain, US outfit NYYC American Magic in Pensacola, Florida, and the Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand in Auckland, the Italian syndicate yesterday went sailing in Cagliari, Sardinia aboard their wildly painted 40-foot LEQ12 prototype test and development boat.
The boat’s foiling systems had previously been successfully tow-tested and a lack of meaningful breeze on the waters of Cagliari meant a tow start was necessary to get it airborne for the first time. Once it was up there, however, it reportedly managed to stay flying under its own steam – despite fickle winds around seven knots maximum.
At the dual helming stations were American Jimmy Spithill and reigning Olympic Nacra 17 helmsman Ruggero Tita (ITA). Both declared themselves happy with the Italian LEQ12’s performance ‘straight out of the box’.
“It was a great day and considering that it was the first time under sail the boat behaved very well,” Spithill said. “Everything worked and we did some foiling. We did not manoeuvre much because there was not enough wind, but in the next few days we should have more air and we should be able to sail normally.”
Meanwhile Tita said he had found the small boat more sensitive to steer than the team’s Prada Cup winning AC74.
“As a first day, I'd say it went very well, even though we didn't get to sail at 100 percent. Alternating with another helmsman is quite a new experience and switching roles is not automatic when tacking from one side to the other.”
Stay tuned for more sailing action from Luna Rossa in coming days – wind prevailing – while 300 or so miles to the west of Sardinia on the Spanish island of Mallorca the British team INEOS Britannia are believed to be close to launching their version of an LEQ12 on Palma Bay.