America's Cup World Series - Emirates TNZ masterclass
After a long night for the shore crews repairing boats broken after yesterday’s boisterous winds and sea state, all nine AC45s made it out on to the water today in substantially more benign conditions. The wind was typically in the 7-11 knots range with at times crews not having to hike, but never light enough that the boats weren’t hull flying. While it wasn’t yesterday’s edge of the seat spectacular, nonetheless the AC45s demonstrated once again that their performance excels in single figure wind speeds with boats still hitting 16 knots downwind, double the wind strength.
But the overall wow factor of the day was the dominance of Emirates Team New Zealand, which decisively won both of fleet races, sailing in a different league to everyone else (despite Jeremy Lomas standing in for injured crewman Winston Macfarlane), while most unusual was the lacklustre performance of Oracle Racing’s wonder boy, James Spithill.
With the teams having to change gears decidedly compared to yesterday it was noticeable how fast the Kiwis were out of the blocks in today’s first race. Accelerating the fastest off the line, they reached the all-important first mark ahead ahead of the Paul Campbell-James steered Luna Rossa Swordfish and Artemis and from there never looked back.
This left the ranks fighting for the positions with the Nathan Outteridge steered Team Korea moving up to second ahead of Luna Rossa Swordfish and Artemis only for Paul C-J to regain second place by the first weather mark rounding. Unusually the two Oracle Racing boats were bringing up the rear at this point. On the first beat the Koreans and Swordfish were trading places for second with Team Korea losing ground but by second beat Artemis Racing and the Chris Draper-helmed Luna Rossa Piranha were on the charge. Making amends for his capsize yesterday, Artemis Racing pulled up to second, but was pipped at the post by Draper’s crew with Bundock having regained ground to take fourth.
1) Emirates Team New Zealand
2) Luna Rosa-Piranha +2:27
3) Artemis Racing +2.33
4) Oracle Racing Bundock +2.45
5) Team Korea +3.03
6) Luna Rossa-Swordfish +3.13
7) Oracle Racing Spithill +3.35
8) Energy Team +4.03
9) China Team +4.20
In the second race Team Korea and several other boats were over early and on this occasion it was Luna Rossa Swordfish that got to lead at the first corner, but, once again proving their might, it was Emirates Team New Zealand that surged into the lead on the first run with the Italian team’s two boats holding second and third close behind with Spithill up to fourth and Korea in fifth. On this occasion this was the positions that remained through to the finish except with Energy Team finally pulling into fifth on the last beat.
With two wins today, so Emirates Team New Zealand has pulled out a nine point lead in the fleet racing.
“With conditions sharply different from yesterday – eight to 12 knots and flat water – life on board was much easier and we made the most of it,” commented Barker. “The boys we slick in all the manoeuvres and boat speed felt good.”
Luna Rossa podiuming in both races was a welcome result for the home side and a popular outcome with the large crowd that had assembled along the Naples shoreline.
“That’s more like what we prepared for,” admitted Chris Draper, who after a 2-3 today posted the best result after the Kiwis. “ The boys sailed awesomely today, the boat handling was epic. We’re really pleased.”
Artemis ended up in seventh in the second race having incurred a penalty in a tussle with Team Korea. “We were going well today, but in the second race we copped a penalty, although we were quite a distance from them. Looking forward to racing again tomorrow,” said skipper Terry Hutchinson.
As to his team's disappointing performance today James Spithill said: “We really want to pride ourselves on being consistent, and today we really weren’t. That is sport, but we have to learn from it and move forward. There’s plenty of racing left, we just have to come out tomorrow firing.”
Before the fleet races today, three match races were sailed, one of which pitted the two Oracle Racing teams against each other. And with another surprise outcome it was the match racing newbie Bundock who beat the old hand Spithill.
“We were up against the winner of the America’s Cup, so to walk away with his scalp was great,”said Bundock. “I suppose we can thank the shore crew for the victory against Jimmy. We’re very happy to walk away with the win from that one. I guess it’s all that training they’ve given us the past couple months.”
The outcome was especially surprising after yesterday’s racing in when Bundock’s boat developed a crack around a deck hatch that had forced them to stand down for the second race. The Oracle Racing shore team, led by Andrew Henderson and including “The Three A’s” – Andrew Walker, Aaron Hunter and Andrew Rhodes – pulled an all-nighter to complete the repair job, which required grinding, new core sections and laminating.
No one was quite certain if the boat would be ready until the heat guns were turned up at full blast about an hour before the start of the race to accelerate the laminate curing process.
“Lucky for us the shore crew did a fantastic job overnight. They had four repairs to make: two cracks in the hull and a little damage from a RIB when we came dockside,” said Bundock. “Probably an hour before the race start they still had the heat guns going to set the carbon off. It was all touch and go, but lucky for us they got us out there.”
Artemis Racing and Luna Rossa Piranha were the other match race winners and both will advance to the next stage of the competition; the losers in each match have been knocked out and assigned a final finishing position.
The teams also completed the ‘spare’ race on Thursday afternoon. This fleet race will only be scored if there is no racing on Sunday. In that case, the race will be broadcast on Sunday afternoon and reported on at that time.
The program for Friday starts with further match racing followed by two fleet races. The start of the first match is scheduled for 1130 UTC.
America’s Cup World Series Naples fleet racing overall standings
Team (Country) R1 – R2 – R3 – R4 — Total
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 3 (8) – 1 (10) – 1 (10) – 1 (10) — 38 points
2. ORACLE Racing Spithill (USA) 1 (10) – 3 (8) – 7 (4) – 4 (7) — 29
3. Luna Rossa – Piranha (ITA) 6 (5) – 6 (5) – 2 (9) – 3 (8) — 27
4. Team Korea (KOR) 4 (7) – 2 (9) – 5 (6) – 6 (5) — 27
5. Energy Team (FRA) 2 (9) – 4 (7) – 8 (3) – 5 (6) — 25
6. Luna Rossa – Swordfish (ITA) 7 (4) – 5 (6) – 6 (5) – 2 (9) — 24
7. ORACLE Racing Bundock (USA) 5 (6) – DNC – 4 (7) – 8 (3) — 16
8. Artemis Racing (SWE) DNF – DNC – 3 (8) – 7 (4) — 12
9. China Team (CHN) DNF – DNC – 9 (2) – 9 (2) — 4
America’s Cup World Series Naples match racing championship
Qualifier 1 - Artemis Racing d. China Team
Quarterfinal 1 – Oracle Racing Bundock d. ORACLE Racing Spithill
Quarterfinal 2 - Luna Rossa Piranha d. Team Korea