On the second day of the America’s Cup World Series in Naples, Energy Team finished second before winning in the day’s two fleet races. With Yann Guichard at the helm, the French crew on Energy Team was almost in Naples. A performance worthy of champions, which puts them back in the running in the overall rankings. Out of the four races so far run in Naples, Energy Team has made it to the podium on three occasions including one win. The result is that they have taken a giant leap forward in the overall rankings, going from fifth to second place. A truly great day.
In spite of getting a penalty, which they quickly executed in the pre-start phase, Energy Team with Yann Guichard at the helm was up with the frontrunners from the start. The French AC45 managed to round the first buoy in third position, just ahead of the Italians on Luna Rossa Swordfish, who were playing on their home ground and Oracle Team USA skippered by the talented young Australian, Tom Slingsby. The breeze blowing at around ten knots was a little more stable and the local effects less noticeable in the Bay of Naples today. Early this afternoon, the wind was still moderate, but the this third fleet in Naples race saw the boats racing at around 13 knots upwind and almost 20 knots downwind.
On the first upwind leg, Energy Team warded off attacks from the other Italian AC45 and by the third mark, Yann Guichard was up there on the provisional podium. After just 11 minutes of racing, they had already reached the fourth mark and the three frontrunners remained in front: Francesco Bruni led ahead of Tom Slingsby and Yann Guichard. Energy Team was still under threat from Luna Rossa Piranha and Emirates Team New Zealand, but the French sailed perfectly and managed to avoid committing any mistakes… quite the reverse.
At the fifth mark, Yann Guichard won priority over Luna Rossa as in the sailing manuals and grabbed second place. On the final leg, Energy Team held on to this great second position right up to the finish, which they reached 19 seconds after the winner Oracle and 19 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa Swordfish. Yann Guichard’s crew had made it to the podium for the second time in a row after three races and move up a notch in the rankings. We should add that there was a rather disappointing performance from the two leaders in the overall rankings, Ben Ainslie and Dean Barker, who finished respectively sixth and fifth. But for the French, it was an excellent start to the day.
The crew of Energy Team was on fire. A great start and in the first few magnificent legs they were leading the fleet of AC45s. With the wind freshening a little, Yann Guichard and his men sent the sparks flying and were way out in front at the first three marks. They made perfect use of the wind and built up their speed managing to get a lead of more than 200 metres between marks 3 and 4. Energy Team rounded the fourth buoy after 10 minutes of racing, some 19 seconds ahead of Oracle, 36 seconds ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand, 42 ahead of Luna Rossa Piranha and with a lead of more than one minute over Ben Ainslie (JP Morgan Bar).
The next upwind leg was a little bit trickier with Dean Barker’s Kiwis and Tom Slingsby leading the American team initially managing to narrow the gap, but Yann Guichard proved once again that he knows how to manage such a lead and remain ahead. After 16 minutes of racing, Energy Team, rounded the fifth mark with a relatively comfortable lead: 23 and 38 seconds, before setting off at high speed downwind sailing at almost 22 knots with a lead of 250 metres. They rounded the sixth mark in perfect style and Yann Guichard and his men sailed away to a magnificent victory.
After 20 minutes, it was all over: a huge win for Energy Team, who showed themselves today to be on champion form, finishing second and then winning. This fantastic day in Naples gives them a real boost in the rankings. What a race!
Yann Guichard: 'We got off to two great starts and then sailed well. This was a magnificent day for Energy Team! On these boats, you are always close to the edge, particularly in the start phase. We clearly saw that today in the second race, when four boats got penalized at the start. We’re really pleased, as rather frustrated with the match racing result yesterday against Ben Ainslie, when we lost out after getting off to a fantastic start. Today, after a long debriefing and some adjustments to the boat, we overcame that and everything went smoothly. I’m really pleased with the team… I hope that everyone and the French in particular enjoyed watching us sail like that today.'
The Naples Fleet Race rankings after the second day:
1. Oracle Team USA (USA) / Tom Slingsby 38 pts (2nd/6th/1st/2nd)
2. Energy Team (FRA) / Yann Guichard 36 pts (7th/3rd/2nd/1st)
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) / Dean Barker 36 pts (1st/4th/5th/3rd)
4. JP Morgan Bar (GBR) / Ben Ainslie 35 pts (3rd/1st/6th/4th)
5. Luna Rossa Piranha (ITA) / Chris Draper 33 pts (4th/2nd/4th/5th)
6. Luna Rossa Swordfish (ITA) / Francesco Bruni 23 pts (5th/5th/3rd/DNF)
7. Artemis Racing (SWE) / Charlie Ekberg 21 pts (6th/7th/7th/7the)
8. HS Racing (USA) / Roman Hagara 17 pts (8th/9th/8th/6th)
9. China Team (CHN) / Mitch Booth 14 pts (9th/8th/9th/8th)
Energy Team website
by Pierre Giboire
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3:46 PM Fri 19 Apr 2013GMT
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