Bob Fisher, one of the world's top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in Naples, Italy for the Fourth round of the America's Cup World Series.
Bob is a multihuller from way back, having competed for Britain in the Little America's Cup and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.
Dear Diary – Day 2 - America's Cup World Series - Naples, Italy
The Luna Rossa team was basking in the news that its owner, Patrizio Bertelli, had been elected to the America's Cup Hall of Fame, the first Italian to achieve this honour, as it, like almost all its rivals, repaired the damage suffered in yesterday's races. It varied from the extreme damage to the Artemis wing, which resulted in the substitution of the one previously used by Aleph, through the damage to the Oracle Racing-Bundock hull at the aft hatch, to the bad bruising of ETNZ's Winston Macfarlane' thighs, the result of being slammed into the forward beam by two successive waves.
Not even the first race winner, Oracle Racing-Spithill, was exempt from damage. The wing suffered broken ribs when Spithill gybed the boat and the wing crashed against the leeward runner. It meant nursing the wing from that point onwards, which accounted somewhat towards his third place in the second of the opening day's races.
It is planned that today's races will include a third fleet race, its results, according to ACRM supremo Iain Murray, to be held in reserve if for any reason there is no racing on the final day (Sunday). It should be noted that the results will carry, if used, the full, highly weighted, points, so the importance of the results of this race cannot be overstated.
The first race of the day proved a triumphal march for Dean Barker and the ETNZ crew. They led around every mark to finish 2:27 ahead of Chris Draper in Luna Rossa - Piranha. More importantly, Jimmy Spithill was way back, in seventh place; it put the Kiwi team six points clear in the overall standings.
Much hinged on the start and with China Team baulking several boats, Barker dodged the problem and led the fleet away in nine knots of south-westerly breeze. Instead of the expected challenge from the Oracle Racing Team, the pressure came from the Luna Rossa boats and Nathan Outerridge in Team Korea. Artemis too, back with a new wing, but dragging her heels at the back of the fleet.
Emirates Team New Zealand stretched further and further ahead with each leg, finally crossing the finish line 2:27 ahead. It was a stirring performance and the team can be justly proud. It also seemed to set the team up well for the second race of the day, which was held in very slightly less breeze.
Chris Draper with Luna Rossa-Piranha finishing second brought appreciative cheering from the huge local crowd that lined the foreshore, while there was considerable sympathy for Terry Hutchinson in Artemis after his bad day on Wednesday and his return to racing with a third place, but there was considerable surprise when Jimmy Spithill could do no better than seventh.
In the second race, Barker once more led from start to finish with ETNZ and once more the challenge came from the Luna Rossa team, this time from Paul Campbell-James' crew in Luna Rossa-Swordfish just ahead of his teammate Chris Draper in LR-Piranha. Co-leader of the first day, Jimmy Spithill, recovered slightly from an indifferent start but was almost two minutes adrift of the leader at the finish.
Positions with total points after four races:
Emirates Team New Zealand 3,1,1,1 = 38pts Oracle Racing - Spithill 1,3,7,4 = 29pts Luna Rossa - Piranha 6,6,2,3 = 27pts Team Korea 4,2,5,6 = 27pts Energy Team 2,4,8,5 = 25pts Luna Rossa-Swordfish 7,5,6,2 = 24pts Oracle Racing-Bundock 5,DNS,4,8 = 15pts Artemis Racing DNF,DNS,3,7 = 12pts China Team DNF,DNS,9,9 = 4pts
A further fleet race was held on which much might rest - it was a reserve race for the final one of the series - the much acclaimed 'winner takes all' for the fleet racing championship. The points for this are highly loaded; for example the winner gets 50 while the second placed finisher receives 30 and the third just 20. Because of that, Barker and the whole of Emirates Team New Zealand will be hoping that nothing gets in the way of racing on Sunday afternoon.
Luna Rossa-Swordfish nailed the start at the leeward end to lead around the first mark. Early on the next leg ETNZ was penalised for a windward/leeward incident with the leader and never really recovered. Campbell-James' team went on to win by 23 seconds from the Energy Team with Artemis third. ETNZ was seventh, just one place ahead of Oracle Racing-Spithill. The ETNZ prayer mat will not be the only one in evidence on Sunday.
In the Match races, Artemis beat the China Team (who takes ninth place) and will progress to meet ETNZ in the third quarter final. Bundock beat Spithill and progresses to a semi-final in which he will meet Chris Draper's Luna Rossa-Piranha, which beat Team Korea in the third match. Spithill takes seventh place and Team Korea is sixth.