North Sails NEWS
Story Contributors: Alessio Razeto
RECENTLY LAUNCHED: FLYINGNIKKA
Roberto Lacorte’s New Racing Machine is Pure Performance
It was the most anticipated launch of 2022 and one that generated a buzz of excitement. A challenge within a challenge, FlyingNikka is the first yacht to tackle so many design boundaries. The 60′ Mark Mills designed mini-maxi experienced the first ‘flights’ in Valencia in early May and is soon departing to Italy with a mission; to claim race records of the prominent offshore regattas. North Sails is a longtime supplier to the ‘Nikka programs, and we’re honored to have played a part in bringing FlyingNikka to life.
“To fully understand the meaning and purpose of such a boat, it is first necessary to get acquainted with its owner Roberto Lacorte,” says North expert and Italian sales manager Alessio Razeto.
Razeto heads up the FlyingNikka sail program and serves as the team’s sail trimmer. He explains more from Valencia:
“We met with Roberto during the construction of the first Nikka, a Vismara-Mills 47. It was 2012, and compared to where we are now, it seems like a lifetime ago! In those years one of his other creations was taking shape, the 151 Miglia – a regatta that is now sold out with every edition.”
In 2012, Lacorte’s core team was formed, a group still together over a decade later. From the 47′, the program moved on to its next ambitious project, SuperNikka. From a blank sheet of paper and the design vision of Mark Mills and Alessandro Vismara, SuperNikka saw immediate success. The boat claimed the 151’s Line Honors in 2015 just four days after her launch, a hint that this was a program that would never stop racing alongside such an owner, neither at sea nor in the design office.
With the original group intact, the boat continued to do very well, and the results kept coming in. But despite their numerous successes, the team always felt compromised. “Sometimes we ended racing with 72s, and in other regattas, we sailed against the 50s with mixed results, Razeto explains. “And so we reached a turning point: changing the boat and moving forward along the path of friendship and sport, consolidated by thousands of miles in regattas.”
Razeto elaborates, “FlyingNikka is how Roberto Lacorte abandoned the path of compromise. He wanted a pure racing machine.”
Mark Mills, again the facilitator of Lacorte’s vision, presented the first drawing of a reasonably radical 75′. As the AC75s had just hit the water, the attention – and the inevitable doubts – of the entire world sailing community were mesmerized by the new America’s Cup monsters. But Lacorte knew there were boundaries to push further.
‘What’s new? I want to leave my mark” were Roberto’s exact words as he observed the plans for the new concept, to which Mills immediately took up the challenge.
“And so, we started too,” concludes Razeto – sharing his vision and demonstrating the cohesion of the group once again. “This is how FlyingNikka was born, an unparalleled design challenge. The boat and the sail inventory were an infinite series of uncharted design aspects, and a direct technology transfer from the experience North Sails gained during the 36th America’s Cup. But, unlike the Cup boats, which are designed to always fly, we will sail distance and, at times, stay offshore overnight. We will have to have a seaworthy boat and, last but not least, with acceptable performance even in displacement, we have a thermal engine and so on. We like to think that we have extended the concept of high limit and low limit of the AC75. And in this, we are indeed the first.
FlyingNikka’s Sail Inventory:
FlyingNikka’s sail inventory enjoys a considerable advantage from North HELIX Structured Luff, a technology derived from the America’s Cup, and yields sail with a more dynamic shape. “This is not an insignificant detail onboard a hull without a backstay or flying shrouds,” Razeto explains. “These load sharing sailing transfer to 80% of the overall sail load in the jib with 20% remaining on the forestay. A similar situation applies to the mainsail, also designed HELIX.”
All of FlyingNikka’s sails are 3Di Raw, and according to Razeto, “We have coined the new term ‘ultra-custom.”
FlyingNikka’s sail inventory includes a 140sqm square-top Helix mainsail, with two reefs (122 and 73sqm), four Helix headsail sails, from the 93sqm J1 to the 44sqm J4, all for flying speeds, and a large Helix Code sail of 150 square meters to be used solely for displacement sailing. Her total sail area is 564 sqm, approximately the size of two tennis courts.
Razeto joined the team in Valencia for the first trial and, considering a thousand unknowns of the project, saw the new boat fly on several occasions and sail very fast in light winds. The FlyingNikka program has many miles and many races ahead of it. It’s an ambitious project with a big family vibe amongst the close-knit team, just like when Roberto Lacorte, in 2012, launched his first Nikka into the water.
“A lifetime ago, indeed.”
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