North Sails NEWS

ITALIAN OWNER ROBERTO LACORTE PRESENTS FLYINGNIKKA

The First New Generation Foil Mini Maxi Designed by a Team of Specialists Captained by Naval Architect Mark Mills

Republished with permission from the FlyingNikka Team

Futuristic, unique, extraordinary. A real “weapon”, ready to amaze from the first day it touches the water in middle of 2022.

FlyingNikka is the new highly anticipated boat by Roberto Lacorte, a successful entrepreneur with a passion for regattas – with the Mini Maxi SuperNikka he has won everything possible, including four Maxi titles in Porto Cervo and the FIV Owner-Helmsman of the Year, followed by victory in the first year of the new Persico 69F foiling monohull circuit.

FlyingNikka is something unique, unprecedented, a dive into the sailing of the third millennium which, as is clear from the main sailing events in progress – the Vendée Globe round the world and the America’s Cup regattas – no longer sails on water but flies above it. 

19 meters long, equipped with latest generation appendages that allow foiling in excess of 40 knots, FlyingNikka is being designed by a team coordinated by Irish designer Mark Mills of Mills Design.  She will be the first foiling Mini Maxi in the world, an evolution suitable for longer trips than the current AC75, with which to compete in coastal and offshore races in record time.

“It will be a different boat, the first of a new generation that will definitely set sail in the coming years. We are the first, with the pros and cons of the case, but my professional and sporting life has always been marked by innovation and the desire to explore, so I could only take this direction”, explains Roberto Lacorte, also involved in motorsport with the Cetilar Racing team driving his Dallara prototype, including four years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“We have been working on the project for a long time, with Mark Mills and the professionals with whom I have shared many victories with SuperNikka and the Persico 69F circuit. Now we know which path to take precisely and we are ready. I can count on an exceptional group, which is making a fundamental contribution to the realization of FlyingNikka. And it is the most important aspect, when you embark on an undertaking like this, outside the comfort zone, which might even seem a bit crazy”.

Alessio Razeto, Team Manager and Head of the Sails Project, Lorenzo Bressani, Enrico Zennaro, Andrea Fornaro and Lorenzo de Felice are the five, experienced and titled sailors who together with Lacorte himself, the Commander of the boat Fabrizio Turini and the design team set up by Mark Mills and the Project Manager Micky Costa, will work closely on the development of the innovative FlyingNikka project until the day of launch, scheduled for the middle of 2022, with the colors of the Yacht Club Repubblica Marinara di Pisa.

Designer Mark Mills is very enthusiastic about this new direction: “Mills Design is proud to be developing the most exciting new design project outside of the America’s Cup.  The vision of repeat client and Italian Owner of the Year Roberto Lacorte is to be the first to have a Mini-Maxi sized foiler capable of coastal racing and to bring true big boat foiling performance to a wider audience.  This will take the lessons and some of the technology from the America’s Cup AC75 foiling monohull and put them together in a more user friendly and cost-effective package which can sail in a wider range of conditions.  

Given the very challenging design brief we assembled a team of specialists to ensure we could deliver Roberto’s vision. Among the 10-man group are members with experience of 3 of the 4 AC teams currently competing in Auckland.  Our R&D Partners KND provide the analytical tools to evaluate the novel design topography, with aero input from North Sails design specialists, while Pure Engineering provides their relentless drive and technical knowledge to produce the lightest and most reliable platform.  The initial six months of preliminary design work has been focused on validating the concept, using the TNZ-developed Gomboc dynamic simulator and the North Sails VPP to evaluate various configurations and foil geometries both when flying and in displacement mode.  Led by founder Gio Belgrano, Pure have developed an entirely new wing articulation solution to reduce foil cost and improve reliability appropriate to a project operating outside the rarefied conditions of the America’s Cup.   

Our vision for the design is a robust simple platform able to foil in winds below 10 knots true, and capable of passing the various requirements for entry into mainstream race events, such as WS Offshore Special Regs categorisation including stability.  The need for limited Archimedean sailing in sub-optimal wind speeds and increased contact with the sea surface in a wave pattern leads to a hull shape differentiated from its AC75 siblings by greater concern for wetted surface.  Powered controls and winches assisted by a flight augmentation system reduce the burdens on the 5 man crew, allowing the helm to focus on steering without also having to directly control ride height.   

Now that the project is moving at full speed, the design team is focusing on development and optimisation of the design geometry and systems.  Over the next three months the hull, deck, and crew configuration will be finalised prior to the commencement of construction.  Builder selection is at an advanced stage, guided by experienced Project Manager Micky Costa who fills a crucial role linking the designers, builder, and sailing team to produce a reliable, simple and effective sailing machine”.

A boat ready to amaze – which will be able to race with an ORC certificate thanks to the close collaboration with the Offshore Racing Congress for the definition of the VPP relating to full foil boats – of which the first technical details will be revealed in the coming months, in addition to name of the construction site and of the members of the design team.

In the meantime, the crew will be engaged again in the Persico 69F circuit with the two “small” FlyingNikka 47 and 74, as confirmed by Team Manager Alessio Razeto. “We will have to defend the first and second places won this year. And continue to accumulate specific experience on foils, a constantly evolving world that must be followed daily and on which there is still so much to learn. Our experience on the Persico 69F ”, continues Razeto,“ was very important in this first phase of conception of the new project, because the contribution of those who go by boat is crucial. And ours is a very high level sailing team ”.