Flying Under the Radar
Flying Under the Radar
Luna Rossa is counting down its last days of training and preparation in Auckland, New Zealand, where the team has been steadily making up time as latecomers to the game. In a few weeks the sailing team heads to Naples for the grand finale of the 2012-’13 America’s Cup World Series, while much of the shore team will begin to set up shop in San Francisco. Team manager Max Sirena plans to have his team sailing on San Francisco Bay by the beginning of May. The 41-year old has his work cut out for him managing a relatively novice team, however he says it’s way less stressful than his job managing the wing program on the monster trimaran in his last campaign with Oracle Racing.
Luna Rossa has been very quiet lately.
This is how we like to work—we don’t like to show too much, we’re not the kind of team who likes to go in the press every week like all the other teams are doing. I prefer to work really low profile and take all the distractions away from the team. We are a young team, we start almost a half year after the other guys so we’ve been really focused on what we are doing, which is really hard. I want to focus on the job.
How many training days have you had now?
We sailed 26 days inside of January 30, then we sailed after that 14 days, so we have about 40 days on the 72, about 4 or 5 days behind Team New Zealand who is the team with the most sailing days in their pockets.
Have you been doing much sailing with ETNZ?
We’ve been doing some practice racing with them, and it was really positive because for the first time we’ve seen the two 72s doing a real match race start and what the 72 can do in the pre-starts. It is very different to go around the course in the middle of the ocean with no limitations and especially without any other boat interfering in your course. Every day we are more and more surprised at what you can do with these boats.
What’s working and what’s not in the pre-starts?
Everything is obviously related to wind speed. As soon as you go in a higher range over 18, everything is more difficult to do because the boat is way more loaded and is powerful. For example, it’s really difficult to do a double tack in a short amount of time, or a double jibe. But so far we are surprised that you can almost do everything, but again it’s all related to the wind speed.
Are you prepared for the summer sailing conditions in San Francisco?
We’ve been lucky as since January we’ve had a lot of windy days in Auckland, over 16 knots for a big percentage of our sailing days and over 18 for most of the last few sailing days, with a day of 20-25 knots. We have tried to push the limit higher and higher every time we get a chance, but again there is still a lot to learn in the higher wind range so we want to take that carefully.
Do you worry about capsizing?
The problem with these boats is that they’re really powerful. Over 22 knots it is a completely different way to sail with these boats—you have to pay attention and respect that. When it’s getting really windy, we always make the call and say together, “Let’s respect the better way,” which is the most critical moment when you sail in big breeze with this boat because you always hope that the bow doesn’t stick down. We had a couple of nose-dives the other day, and I can tell you its pretty scary.