At the America's Cup World Series in Naples, the crew of the French Energy Team led by Yann Guichard came close to pulling off something of a shock on Sunday in the seventh and final race. After getting off to an excellent start, the French quickly moved to the front of the fleet ahead of the Americans on Oracle Team USA led by Tom Slingsby with whom they went on to fight a duel.
But in the end, after an exceptionally exciting race, it was the Italians on Luna Rossa Swordfish led by the excellent Francesco Bruni, who went on to win in front of the local crowds, who had turned up in their thousands in Naples. Energy Team finished in fourth place on Super Sunday and sixth in the overall rankings for the ACWS Naples.
The conditions were just right today (Sunday) in the Bay of Naples, where it was time for Super Sunday, the final fleet race counting towards the 2013 America's Cup World Series.
All of the competitors set off as the gun was fired, with Oracle Team USA crossing the line first just ahead of the French on Energy Team, who then went on to grab the lead shortly afterwards. A long duel would follow between the two frontrunners, who regularly passed in front of each other with the lead going from one to the other. Quite some way back, the two Luna Rossa boats were battling it out followed by Ben Ainslie (BAR) and Emirates Team New Zealand with the mighty Dean Barker at the helm.
As they rounded Gate 3, the French were in the lead and sailed off to the left hand side of the race course, while Oracle was struggling with the Italians on Luna Rossa Swordfish, who moved into second place. Energy Team had a lead of twenty seconds at the mark, sped away at the front at almost 18 knots under gennaker, with a lead of 100 metres over Luna Rossa and Oracle. But you could rely on the talent of the Americans to make a comeback and they rounded Gate 4 just three seconds behind the French.
Energy set off to the right-hand side of the course with Oracle going to the left, followed by the two Luna Rossa boats, while Ben Ainslie was some way back. Oracle went on to take the lead in the race in this long upwind leg taking the fleet to mark 5. It was as they rounded this windward gate that Francesco Bruni’s Italians got back in the running and pipped the French to the post. At Gate 5, Oracle set off to the left and Luna Rossa went to the right followed by Energy Team, who gave it their all on this final downwind leg. But Luna Rossa would soon gybe to catch Oracle and take the lead, while the French continued on their long leg on the left towards mark 6. The French were in third place at the sixth mark before getting overtaken by Luna Rossa Piranha. The final leg to the finish saw victory go to Francesco Bruni on Luna Rossa Swordfish, ahead of Tom Slingsby on Oracle Team USA, Luna Rossa Piranha and Energy Team.
Bruno Peyron: 'Clearly it was a mix today of some good things and other things that were not quite as good on Super Sunday. Once again Yann got off to a great start, which has improved his statistics to a success rate of more than 80% in terms of fast starts. Then, there was an exciting battle with Oracle Team USA. We grabbed the lead on the third leg, but chose the wrong side for 30 seconds and at this level, you can’t afford such mistakes. The penalty at the final mark was however more difficult to understand, but that’s part of the game and we have to accept that. We would have liked to finish with a performance matching our ambitions, but we have to come to terms with the fact that the Top Teams are out in front. The group showed that they have the standard required to fight at the highest level in these World Series events. But we still need to have the means to achieve those ambitions. That will be the next stage: we need to give the team the means to fight, not just enabling them to pull off a miracle now and then, but consolidating everything for the long term.'