Naples (ITA) - 34th America’s Cup - America’s Cup World Series Naples 2012 -
'It's never like this here.'
It's a phrase heard so often at regattas around the world that it's become a popular cliche among sailors.
Saturday, that was the refrain being heard on the dock in Naples for the Practice Day for the first event in 2012 for the America's Cup World Series .
Rain showers giving way to afternoon drizzle. The strong breeze in the forecast for the afternoon never arrived. So practice racing was conducted in light, shifty conditions, as opposed to the moderate sea breezes we've seen for much of the past week.
The Race Committee ran some short match races ahead of two fleet races on Saturday afternoon. Finishing positions weren't scored and the boats hadn't been weight equalised (some teams had guest racers, some didn't) so it would be hard to read anything from the results anyway. But it was a first opportunity for the teams to get racing within the confines of the race course boundaries and to check all the systems.
'We're learning a lot still,' said Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper. 'That's our first day sailing with course boundaries and umpires, so it was good test for us.'
While Draper sailed in the AC World Series events last year with Team Korea, for Nathan Outteridge, the man who is replacing him on the Korean helm, today was the culmination of a week of learning how to sail the AC45.
Outteridge says the key to having a smooth transition into the class has been the work of his team mates.
'The boys know what they're doing on the boat,' he said. 'They've gone through the procedures on how we do all the manoeuvres. We haven't had any major issues yet. Most of the time it's been pretty smooth and the boys have come up with the job when we've needed it.'
The team had mixed fortunes on the race course today according to Outteridge, reinforcing how quickly fortunes can change in a quality fleet.
'I think we were fourth in the first race and in the second race we were fourth again at the last top mark but the fleet came down on us with a bit more wind and we ended up a little bit boxed in and finished up around eighth. It's amazing how quickly it can all change around,' he said, shaking his head.
But despite the challenging conditions on the Bay of Naples today, he says he's enjoying sailing here.
'It's a cool place. We've had some good breeze over the past few days. Today was a bit different, but I think it will be a great venue, with the racing so close to shore. And if the wind stays like this, then you get exciting racing and that's what we're looking for.'
Draper agreed: 'Today wasn't a normal day weather wise. What we saw yesterday, with the moderate sea breeze, was more classic. But it looks like we may get a bit of everything this week.'
But of course, it's never like this here.