America's Cup World Series Naples first day of championship racing got underway yesterday. It is clear this is an event at another level. From the spectacular opening ceremony, to the Easter Weekend crowds, to a thrilling first day of racing in strong wind and big waves, everything about the Naples experience is 'più intense'.
The racing has never been more competitive. The addition of the two Luna Rossa crews has ratcheted up the intensity level on the race course. Dean Barker's Emirates Team New Zealand and Jimmy Spithill's Oracle Racing, separated by just one point on the 2011-12 AC World Series leaderboard, resumed battle on day one in Naples, and not surprisingly, neither team would give an inch. After two races, both have posted one-three on their scorecard to lead the fleet.
But young guns like Team Korea's fearless Nathan 'I hadn't sailed a boat that big in that kind of wind' Outteridge and Energy Team's Yann Guichard are nipping at their heels.
Off the water, local organisers estimated the crowd along the extended waterfront on the sunny holiday Monday at an incredible 250,000. This on the heels of a spectacular opening ceremony on Saturday evening, produced by the same group contracted for the Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio. It came to a dramatic conclusion - unplanned - as an powerful thunderstorm brought deep growls or thunder and flashes of lightning, to say nothing of a heavy downpour. But even the rain and hail couldn't dampen expectation that Naples was going to put on something special for the America's Cup World Series.
And so it has proved. The first half of the event will be hard to top. But everyone here is looking forward to the next four days.
Americas Cup website
by America's Cup
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11:04 AM Thu 12 Apr 2012GMT
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