America's Cup World Series first leg of season two (2012-13) got underway in San Francisco on Thursday 23rd August 2012. Finishing fourth and then seventh in the day’s fleet races, it was a rather mixed bag for the Energy Team crew led by Yann Guichard. Earlier in the day, Artemis Racing White and Oracle Team USA Spithill qualified for the match race semi-finals. As for the French, they will be competing in the quarter final, when they come up against Oracle Team USA Coutts on Friday.
Against an amazing backdrop – between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz prison – and in an air stream of around 15 knots the eleven AC45s taking part set off at 1450hrs (local time) (2150hrs GMT). Packed closely together at the first mark, the fleet was led by Oracle Team USA Coutts. Well placed at the start of this race, Energy Team dealt with the first downwind leg and rounded mark 2 in fifth place. The two Oracle boats led the way, but Luna Rossa Piranha, Energy Team and Artemis Racing White were not far behind. There was then a gybing battle as they made their way to mark 3. Quite adept at this little game, the crew led by Yann Guichard remained in fourth place. The podium was still within their reach, as they started the second downwind leg.
The French AC45 was still in the same position at mark 4. So, now it was time for the final upwind leg. At ease on their home turf, the Americans sailing side by side took off to grab the first two places. Behind them, Energy Team was not able to catch Luna Rossa Piranha, who took third place and had to fight off a challenge from the two Artemis Racing boats. It was extremely close, but the French were still in fourth place at mark 5. They set off down the final downwind run hoping to remain in this position. And they managed to do just that, with only Oracle Team USA Coutts, Oracle Team USA Spithill and Luna Rossa Piranha ahead of them. A satisfactory start.
Results of Fleet Race 1
1. Oracle Team USA Coutts
2. Oracle Team USA Spithill
3. Luna Rossa Piranha
4. Energy Team
5. Artemis Racing White
6. Artemis Racing Red
7. Team Korea
8. Emirates Team New Zealand
9. Luna Rossa Swordfish
10. J.P. Morgan BAR
11. China Team
So, it was with a boost to their confidence that the French team set off in the day’s second race. The whole of the fleet got off to a clean start. At the rear in the first race, the crew of China Team got off to the best start this time and rounded the first mark in front, while Energy Team was in the middle of the pack. However, at the end of the disappointing first downwind leg, Yann Guichard and his men found themselves back in eighth place at mark 2, in between Emirates Team New Zealand and J.P. Morgan BAR. But there was still plenty of time to claw their way back. At the front, James Spithill controlled the race. It was very close behind between China Team, Team Korea and Artemis Racing Red. Still some way back, Energy, still in eighth position at mark 3, were closely followed by the Italians on Luna Rossa Piranha. The second downwind leg was better for Yann Guichard’s crew, who recovered to move up two spots and were therefore in sixth place at mark 4, just ahead of Oracle Team USA Coutts.
Energy Team tried to continue in the same vein on the second upwind leg, but Russell Coutts got ahead of them. Still out in front, James Sptithill had to fight to keep first place as he came under attack from the two Artemis boats, clearly on form. The skipper of the American boat triumphed in front of the home crowd finishing in front of Artemis Racing Red and Artemis Racing White, which the crowds lapped up. Losing out in their battle with sixth placed Oracle Team USA Coutts by just a few centimetres, Energy Team ended up in seventh place.
Yann Guichard’s reaction: 'It was a mixed day for Energy Team, who were often back in the middle of the fleet, in spite of getting off to a good start. We found it rather trickier in the second race, as with 11 boats competing, it is vital to get off to agood start: whoever is out in front has a good chance of winning. Tomorrow, we have a big match against Oracle Team USA Coutts, who will be out to get us. We’re going to have to give it our all, as what happens next in the match racing will depend on this single race. I hope that we’ll get better starts than today in the fleet races, even if it is Sunday’s race, which will be the big one, as Super Sunday is more heavily weighted.'
Results of Fleet Race 2
1. Oracle Team USA Spithill
2. Artemis Racing Red
3. Artemis Racing White
4. Team Korea
5. J.P. Morgan BAR
6. Oracle Team USA Coutts
7. Energy Team
8. Luna Rossa Piranha
9. Emirates Team New Zealand
10. Luna Rossa Swordfish
11. China Team
Overall rankings – Thursday 23rd Aug 2012: (after 2 fleet races)
1. Oracle Team USA Spithill : 22 pts
2. Oracle Team USA Coutts : 18 pts
3. Artemis Racing Red : 16 pts
4. Artemis Racing White: 16 pts
5. Team Korea : 13 pts
6. Energy Team: 13 pts
7. Luna Rossa Piranha : 13 pts
8. J.P. Morgan BAR: 9 pts
9. Emirates Team New Zealand: 7 pts
10. Luna Rossa Swordfish: 5 pts
11. China Team : 2 pts
Energy Team Americas Cup website
by Energy Team
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9:35 AM Fri 24 Aug 2012GMT
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