At the America’s Cup World Series, this Sunday was Big Sunday, with the most important race in Naples since the start last Wednesday. The last day was wide open because of the cancellation of Saturday’s two races and the weighting given to the final fleet race today.
Energy Team, who finished this race in fourth place, also end up in fourth place in the overall rankings. We look back at this race, which was tricky to say the least, because of some very light and variable winds out on the race course in Italy.
With rain arriving as racing was about to begin, the wind dropped off to six-seven knots, before freshening again in the middle of the race. In front of an Italian crowd, it was an Italian boat with Chris Draper at the helm, which got off to the best start ahead of Oracle Spithill.
Team New Zealand at the end of the line got squeezed out and got off to a poor start, as Luna Rossa took off, never to give up their position at the front. The wind decreased to just five knots and the multihulls were once again slowed right down. Chris Draper kept the lead, while Spithill appeared to have come to a standstill on the other side of the race course.
At the second gate, Yann Guichard reassured his men. It was not over yet, as the multihulls struggled to take advantage of the slightest puff and found it tricky getting around the mark. The conditions were very random and the French on Energy Team rounded the second gate in fourth place.
For a long time slowed down on the other side of the race course, James Spithill made a remarkable recovery, with the breeze picking up from the left-hand side of the course. Spithill was only 22 seconds behind Draper and his men by the end of the third leg. Artemis and Energy Team also bounced back. Luna Rossa Swordfish got a penalty for not leaving enough room for Artemis, and the Swedish team moved up to third place.
Luna Rossa Piranha was still out in front, but also almost came to a standstill. Spithill narrowed the gap considerably to just 14 seconds by the end of the fourth leg. Artemis was in third place. Guichard and his men, fourth, two minutes and three seconds behind the leader, rounded the mark leaving a lot of room in order to avoid getting slowed down.
On the fifth leg, the four frontrunners lined up behind each other and the boats were away again. Luna Rossa extended her lead by the mark with Spithill behind them and with Artemis in third place. Yann Guichard rounded the fifth gate in fourth place, one minute and 59 seconds from Luna Rossa Piranha. The Italian lead seemed to be increasingly comfortable.
Spithill was also more and more certain of grabbing second place. Energy Team and Artemis split, with the French going right and the Swedes left. At the mark, Artemis was still in third position, one minute 39 seconds from the leader, while Energy Team in fourth place narrowed the deficit to just 20 seconds.
At mark 8, after 39 minutes and 55 seconds of racing, Luna Rossa cleanly carried out the required manoeuvres. In front of a crowd of Italian supporters, the Italians could sail away to the finish, which they reached after 40 minutes and 24 seconds of racing. Oracle Spithill finished in second place ahead of Artemis, who took the final spot on the podium, just ahead of the French on Energy Team.
Yann Guichard: 'The final day was difficult, but rather like the rest of the week, in fact, with variable winds and squalls. This was an event, where we were able to see some great moments. We end up in fourth place in the fleet race and fifth in the match racing, which is not that bad for the final rankings. We saw the Italians achieve a great win here and they have certainly showed their strength. It’s fantastic for them to achieve this success in Italy. The standard is now much higher than last season and the competitors are getting closer together. We have seen that we can do it, in spite of our slight lack of training. We need to keep at it and train harder to be more consistent by the end of the season, so we can be up with the frontrunners and get on the podium in Venice where Loïck will be taking the helm and I’ll be the coach.'
Bruno Peyron: 'It’s been a week with its ups and downs, some disappointments, as for everyone and a fantastic race win on Friday. Overall, we’re moving in the right direction. It’s perfect for the Italians to have won on their home ground. With this fourth place here in Naples, we have moved up to third in the overall rankings in the Fleet Races since the start of the year. We know that we still have work to do and that there is room for improvement. The team is very united and there’s a good spirit, with everyone remaining calm on board, whatever is happening. We can do better and we won’t be satisfied getting third or fourth place. We still have a little psychological hurdle to clear to show that we can win. That is what we need to show in Venice.'
America's Cup website
by Pierre Giboire
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5:20 PM Sun 15 Apr 2012GMT
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2011-12 America's Cup World Series
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