Ready for tomorrow's kick-off
Nine teams took part in the official practice session on the Bay of Naples on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of the first day of championship racing in the America’s Cup World Series scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
This is the final event of the 2012-13 America’s Cup World Series. Oracle Team USA is leading the standings and has tasked Tom Slingsby with protecting a lead built up in the first events by team skipper Jimmy Spithill.
Slingsby jokes that Spithill has told him not to ‘stuff it up’, and although he considers himself an underdog in making his AC World Series debut as skipper, he’s confident his team can earn good results. “I think we've got a good young team that could surprise some people,” he said. “Our boat handling looks pretty good so we just need to get our race experience up.”
Another team making their inaugural AC World Series appearance is HS Racing, led by double Olympic Tornado gold medalist Roman Hagara, who says he’s hoping to challenge some of the more experienced AC45 teams over the course of the week: “I want to see us improve a little bit from race to race and hopefully get some finishes near the top. The other teams have many more hours on the water than we do, but I think there’s a chance we could surprise some people.”
British hopes are being placed on Ben Ainslie's crew aboard J.P.Morgan BAR, who have been trying to adapt to conditions on the Bay of Naples. The light Mediterranean conditions present a very different challenge to the two previous America's Cup World Series events in San Francisco.
“It’s definitely a different environment to race in, it means we’re learning some new skills, we have to get our head around sailing in a lighter breeze, it’s a challenge but we are adapting well, " says Ainslie.
For the crew onboard J.P.Morgan BAR they have a clear objective ahead of them, as J.P.Morgan BAR headsail trimmer Simon Daubney explained: “I’ve got to be honest with you we won’t be entirely happy unless we win this regatta, we have to be realistic and we have a healthy respect for the other teams we’re up against and there are good guys that are out sailing here, but you ask me a question and I’ll give you an honest answer, we won’t be happy with anything else but winning. “
There will be three races for J.P.Morgan BAR tomorrow, one match race in the first quarterfinal against Team Energy, followed by two fleet races.
Skipper Ben Ainslie gives his thoughts on the challenge ahead for the crew and how the team has been adapting to sailing in Naples.
“For us at J.P.Morgan BAR, we’ve only competed in two events, both of them in San Francisco and both in pretty breezy conditions. So every practice session we can squeeze in makes a big difference to us. In addition, the weather for the rest of the week in Naples puts us in territory that we have little experience of in the AC45s. In up to 12 knots of true wind we will be using the big gennakers downwind as opposed to the code zeros that we used in the breezier conditions in San Francisco. We’ve only used this sail a couple of times in practice and still have a lot to learn.
"The gennakers present a number of key differences for us as a crew, in particular handling. Unlike most boats that get harder to sail as the wind increases, the AC45s are almost the opposite. The gennakers are much larger than the code zeros and are therefore trickier to gybe. When the breeze gets towards the upper limit for these sails they do become a handful. We’ve had little experience of this so we’ve still yet to get our systems sorted on board.
"Add to this the forecast sea breezes of around 10 knots or maybe a little more and we’re into the top end of these sails making it just about as difficult as it gets for the crew."
2012-13 America’s Cup World Series Championship leaderboard
(Teams participating in Naples – skipper – points)
ORACLE TEAM USA (Slingsby) – 165
Luna Rossa Piranha (Draper) – 121
Artemis Racing White (Ekberg) – 120
J.P. Morgan BAR – 116
Energy Team – 102
Emirates Team New Zealand – 100
Luna Rossa Swordfish – 71
China Team – 43
HS Racing – 0
More images from Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa