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 - Venice, Italy
It was a day for the huge crowds that gathered along the shores leading into the Grand Canal; short-course racing at its best and once more the defenders all but eclipsed while the French team led by Loick Peyron moved into a near commanding points lead after the day's two races, which were held in light south-easterly breezes of 5-7 knots. Penalties levied for sailing outside of the permitted area were common, but it was noticeable that they were almost completely absent for premature starting.
The first race - number three in the series - saw Dean Barker with Emirates Team New Zealand lead away from the start, hotly pursued by the two Luna Rossa boats and Team Korea. At this stage Energy Team was right at the back. On the downwind leg towards the city, Paul Campbell-James in Luna Rossa - Swordfish moved into the lead and began to sail away from the pack, even when, on two occasions, he stayed over the course boundaries and was subject to penalty pauses. At the third mark, Luna Rossa - Swordfish led ETNZ and Energy Team with Luna Rossa - Piranha fourth. Both the Oracle Team boats were well back.
Upwind Swordfish stretched away to lead ETNZ by 1:16 at the next mark with Energy Team another 35 seconds behind and Piranha a further nine seconds off the pace. These place remained intact to the finish, right in front of the historic Doges Palace, on the corner of St. Marks Square. Oracle Team - Bundock was next, then Team Korea, Artemis Racing, Oracle Team - Spithill with China Team bringing up the rear.
There was one moment of drama when guest rider, Sam Hales, fell off the back of Emirates Team New Zealand during a tack. He had the presence of mind however to hold on to the rear beam and was able to pull himself back on board. The crew members were too busy to notice.
The second of the day's races saw Darren Bundock lead the fleet around the first two marks, but downwind Piranha went ahead and Spithill passed Swordfish as they approached a patch of lighter breeze. It was here that Peyron made gains to be second, 18 seconds behind Piranha and 19 seconds ahead of Swordfish. ETNZ was next and later was fouled at a mark by Oracle Team - Bundock, which failed to give Barker room to round. Bundock was penalised and ETNZ was fourth.
In the second half of the race, Chris Draper took Piranha further ahead and was even able to overcome two penalties for straying over the boundaries. He appeared to have speed to burn in the light winds. Piranha finished the 30-minute race with a 1:28 lead over Energy Team with Spithill third and Emirates Team New Zealand fourth, 2:04 behind the winner.
Scores after four races:
Energy Team 3,1,3,2 35 points
Luna Rossa - Swordfish 4,2,1,6 31
Luna Rossa - Piranha 5,5,4,1 29
Emirates Team New Zealand 6,2,3,4 29
Team Korea 1,6,6.5 26
Oracle Team USA - Spithill 8,4,8,3 21
Artemis Racing 2,7,7,7 21
Oracle Team USA - Bundock 7,8,5,8 16
China Team 9,9,9,9 8
There was a third race whose results will only be used if the final race on Sunday is not held. The finishing order was:
Luna Rossa - Swordfish
Emirates Team New Zealand
Luna Rossa - Piranha
Oracle Team USA - Spithill
Oracle Team USA - Bundock
Match racing - Day 1
The fleet racing results, from Day 1 were, as usual, used to seed the teams for the match racing of the Venice championship. Ninth placed China Team met and was quickly despatched by Oracle Team Bundock in a single race, but when the winners met the number one seed, Loick Peyron and Energy Team, the top seeds won the match in two straight races.
This one-way pattern was a feature of the round with Oracle Team Spithill serving double defeats on Luna Rossa Swordfish to the disappointment of the local crowds. But Luna Rossa Piranha redressed the balance by dealing a double defeat to the winners of the first fleet race, Team Korea. Terry Hutchinson's Artemis Racing proved too good for Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand; the two wins completing the round.
Artemis Racing will meet Energy Team in the first match of the semi-finals, and Oracle Team Spithill faces up against Luna Rossa Piranha on Friday after three fleet races. The one race scheduled in each of the semi-finals was postponed because time had run out and the Canal had to be reopened for navigation.The second half of the semi-finals will be held on Saturday after the two fleet races and before the Speed trials. The final will be held as a prequel to the winner-takes-all last fleet race for which the points are trebled.
by Bob Fisher
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8:00 PM Fri 18 May 2012GMT
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