PRADA Cup race day 2 in Auckland. Race conditions today were extremely tricky, with light and unstable winds across the entire racecourse that was positioned between course C at North Head and course D, closer to Rangitoto island. The first race of the day, closing round robin 1, featured NYYC American Magic against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
The regatta starts on time at 3.15pm. Luna Rossa enters on port tack and American Magic, entering the box early from the right is inflicted a penalty. In the two-minute pre-start the wind, coming from the west, drops to 8 knots with both boats struggle to stay on the foils. Luna Rossa starts on the left side of the course and gains first advantage over the Americans who have difficulty in lifting up on the foils. The wind stays shifty and course very patchy. Keeping the boat balanced on the foils is very complicated.
At the first windward gate Luna Rossa has a 7:38 minute lead over the Americans. The beat towards the downwind gate seems endless, with alternating foiling speeds up to 30 knots and slower phases in displacement mode with little chance to move forward. Here Patriot makes the most of a puff and rounds the mark to catch up with Luna Rossa. At the cross the gap is reduced to less than 100 meters. The breeze that will allow one of the boats to fly first only builds halfway into the downwind leg. At the gate Luna Rossa only has one minute of advantage.
On the second upwind leg the gain extends to 500 meters and it takes a cold and concentrated mind to stay in the breeze: a wrong manoeuvre, a "touch down" could compromise the entire race. The course is shortened to just two laps (4 legs). The conditions remain patchy and coming down through the center is like sailing through a minefield, with intense concentration to catch every gust.
After 38 minutes and 54 seconds, Luna Rossa crosses the finish line, with the American boat still struggling at the windward gate. It is the first point in the PRADA Cup, and a huge exercise in focus for the entire crew. Tomorrow Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will have an intense day, engaged in two races that will close round robin 2.
“It was definitely a difficult race from a mental point of view. The wind on the racecourse was really light, with a wide range of intensity and many holes where we didn't have enough wind to foil. The goal throughout the race was to stay in the pressure. I think we did a good job, especially in the second part, when we found a good pace. It was a great team effort, especially for the guys who had to grind a lot in these conditions through the many “touch downs” and “take offs”. We have two races tomorrow with very different conditions and we will give our best as always."