In his role as helmsman with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, Jimmy Spithill says he’s enjoying simply being part of the afterguard. (Carlo Borlenghi /)
The wind is howling through Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team’s base in Cagliari, Italy, in mid-January. There will be no sailing today, but they’ve already had plenty of whitecap sessions, validating their sleek, black 75-footer all the way to the top of what is yet to be determined as the raceable wind range for America’s Cup in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2021. “We’ve been pushing pretty hard,” Luna Rossa helmsman Jimmy Spithill says. “Most days, we’re off the dock at 7:30.” A few weeks later, a rigging failure resulted in the team’s entire rig timbering over the front of the boat. It’s a new boat—it happens. Better now than later. “We have to take everything to maximum loads,” Spithill says. “The rig, the foils and the hardware—all that takes time. Some things go well; some things need development.”
For Spithill and the Italian Challenger of Record, break-in of their first of two AC75s has ratcheted ever higher since the beginning of the year. In a few months, they’ll host the first of three America’s Cup World Series events, providing themselves, two other challengers and the defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, a taste of what’s to come in Auckland.
All four teams—Luna Rossa, Ineos Team UK, American Magic and Team New Zealand—have each put significant hours into their boats, their bodies and their simulators, and Spithill says he’s happy with the team’s progress. But these are early days yet, and they’re only just coming to grips with their flying beast…