Luna Rossa America's Cup Hydrofoil Hits 32MPH Then Capsizes

In a letter to his son Eduard in February of 1930, Albert Einstein wrote “Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Luna Rossa AC75 8 photos
Photo: Ivo Rovira / America'sCup
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Drawing a relationship between that wisdom and sailing never really crossed my mind until I saw a picture of America's Cup contender Luna Rossa's AC75 hydrofoil capsized in the Gulf of Cagliari. The fact that a $8-10 million high-tech hydrofoil would capsize in light winds while at a virtual standstill is somewhat of a head-scratcher.

Even more confusing is the explanation offered by Australian and America's Cup winner helmsman Jimmy Spithill once the crew reached shore. He states in the video below “it's just one of those capsizes where you get caught slow, slow boat speed.” Just prior to that explanation he described the day out on the water as a great sailing day. It is hard to imagine the captain of a boat describing a day that ends in the capsize of their multi-million dollar hydrofoil as a great sailing day.

It may very well be, he was referring to the performance of the Luna Rossa prior to the capsizing. You can see in the video the Luna Rossa LEQ12 sailing on its hull in a reported 16-breeze and moderate swell conditions. Their support team trailing LEQ12 clocked her speed at 28 knots (51.86 kp/h) on close and broad reach courses.

A close reach is a heading more closer to the wind (think of driving a car into the wind with the wind hitting either front end fenders from the side. A broad reach (the fastest point of sail) is where the wind is broader to the wind but not directly downwind (think of driving a car away from the wind with the wind hitting the rear quarter panels from either side).

There is no video evidence of the LEQ12 getting up on her foils, but given the sea state that is no surprise.

We have seen this before with these highly nimble and extremely fast foiling boats as recently as early September when the Alinghi/Red Bull Syndicate's AC75 dubbed 'Boat Zero' capsized off the coast of Barcelona.

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