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'Biggest we've ever had': Luna Rossa crack test boat after massive crash

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Thu, 7 Dec 2023, 1:29PM

'Biggest we've ever had': Luna Rossa crack test boat after massive crash

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Thu, 7 Dec 2023, 1:29PM

A nosedive ended Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s hopes of victory at the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah at the weekend.

Now, a nosedive has put their LEQ12 testing boat out of action.

Back on the water in Cagliari to dive into testing as they get closer to the launch date for their new AC75, the Italian syndicate were putting their test boat through its paces in light conditions before coming to an abrupt stop.

The America’s Cup Recon Team reported the steering seemed to be lost as they rounded a mark, which resulted in the vessel making a deep nosedive.

A large crack appeared in the hull as a result, which appeared to begin on the deck and run down the topside, stopping before the waterline.

“We’d made a few changes to the boat and everything was fine. We were at the beginning of a flat piece around the mark and had a big nosedive – probably the biggest one we’ve had so far,” Luna Rossa team principal Max Sirena said.

“It’s funny because you think in light conditions nothing can happen. In reality, most of the time it happens in light breeze because you’re pushing the ride height more and all of that.”

Support boats were quick to get to the boat following the nosedive and passed on water pumps and flotation devices in case of a worst-case-scenario situation, but the vessel was safely taken back to shore with the support of the chase boats.

Sirena confirmed the LEQ12 – a vessel specifically designed as a testing platform for teams to work through their plans before committing to AC75 elements – had sustained “big damage” but said it was fixable and the team were quick to assess what needed to be done to get the boat back on the water.

“It’s fixable so the plan is to be back in the water as soon as possible,” Sirena said.

“It’s actually not too bad, it’s just time-consuming.”

While the next month is likely a vital period in the design phase of the campaign, the break in the hull could have come at a worse time for the team as helmsman Jimmy Spithill is set to head to Dubai for this weekend’s SailGP regatta.

Spithill, who recently left SailGP’s American team and plans to establish an Italian team for next season, will sub in at the helm for the league-leading Australian team as Tom Slingsby – who is contesting the America’s Cup with American Magic – is unavailable as he and his wife, Helena, are expecting their first child.

“When Tom approached me, I was stoked but I did jokingly tell him my one condition, which is that he needs to name his first child Jimmy,” Spithill said.

“My goal is no different to past races with the USA SailGP team: go out, race hard, stay consistent, and hopefully be in a position on Sunday to make the final.”

Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits.

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