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Fisher's View- Day 1 ACWS - Venice turns on perfect racing conditions

by Bob Fisher on 18 May 2012
America’s Cup World Series Venice 2012 ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/

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.

He writes:

Dear Diary – Day 1 - America's Cup World Series - Venice, Italy

Before racing began, the entourage gathered on the waterfront close by St. Marks Square for the 'unveiling' of the worst-kept secret of the event, that of the Red Bull sponsorship of the AC Youth racing programme next year. 'Before this,' said Jimmy Spithill (the youngest ever winning skipper of the America's Cup, 'there has been no clear pathway to [taking part in] the America's Cup.'

The Red Bull Youth America's Cup will take place in San Francisco in August and September 2013, seemingly scattered around the Louis Vuitton Cup and the AC match. It will be a nationality controlled regatta and only one team per nation will be permitted for the six fleet races. Rumour has it that Ben Ainslie Racing will be entering a British team, but there is no news of others to date. There is a provisional entry fee of US5,000 that will be refunded to the non-selected teams. The full entry fee is US$35,000. Boats and rigs will be loaned.

Today's racing, which was fowards the fleet racing championship and also for Match-race seeding, was in sunshine and 8-10 knot southerly breezes outside the Lido - almost perfect conditions for the nine teams racing around the three lap courses. It provided some new faces on the leaderboard. In the first race there were more boats on the course side at the start than there were genuine starters. Oracle Team Bundock led at the first mark overlapping Luna Rossa Swordfish with Team Korea three seconds further back.

At the start of the first beat, Darren Bundock, with Russell Coutts as tactician, led Nathan Outteridge in Team Korea by six seconds with Paul Campbell-James steering Luna Rossa Swordfish a further seven seconds in arrears. Upwind Team Korea began to gain and at the windward mark led Oracle Team Bundock by 11 seconds with Swordfish another 12 seconds back. Life was not good for Dean Barker and the crew of Emirates Team New Zealand; they had lost much ground from the starting penalty and were last.

Downwind the leaders positions remained the same but ETNZ improved two places and, most importantly, saw Oracle Team Spithill go to the back of the pack. After another round, Spithill gained a place, relegating China Team to the last place, but on the final round Oracle Team Bundock plunged steeply down the rankings to finish seventh behind ETNZ and just one place in front of teammate Spithill.

The race went to Outteridge in Team Korea from a fast finishing Terry Hutchinson in Artemis with Loick Peyron, back at the helm of Energy Team, in third place. How were the mighty fallen!

The nine boats were quickly into a second race and this time all held back from the line. Luna Rossa Swordfish was at the weather end of the line, while Campbell-James' teammate Chris Draper was at the other end with ETNZ immediately to windward. On the short reach to the first mark, the Kiwis made good speed but Swordfish just beat them to the rounding by two seconds. Downwind there was some place changing at the front with Energy Team going into the lead, three seconds clear of ETNZ.

Upwind Luna Rossa Swordfish shaded Energy Team to lead around the mark by 10 seconds with ETNZ a further 10 seconds behind, but downwind the two leaders exchanged places when Peyron nailed the lay-line to the leeward mark better than his rival. Barker wasn't able to make any impression on the leading pair but kept a wary eye on fourth placed Oracle Team Spithill, his major rival for the overall prize in the Championship. Currently Oracle Team Spithill leads ETNZ by a single point.

As the race progressed Energy Team settled into covering every move of Luna Rossa Swordfish while ETNZ did the same to their principal contender while Chris Draper, the winner of the 'Dash for Cash', Sundays 50,000 Euros prize, moved up with Luna Rossa Piranha into fifth place.

Scores after two races:

Energy Team 3,1 18
Luna Rossa Swordfish 4,2 16
Team Korea 1,6 15
Emirates Team New Zealand 6,3 13
Artemis Racing 2,7 13
Luna Rossa Piranha 5,5 12
Oracle Team USA Spithill 8,4 10
Oracle Team USA Bundock 7,8 7
China Team 9,9 4













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