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 America's Cup World Series.
Bob is a multihuller from way back, having won the 1967 Little America's Cup, with Peter Schneidau on Lady Helmsman, and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.
Day 5: Saturday - my birthday - in Naples - Race Day 3
'Saturday’s child works hard for his living.' Old Nursery Rhyme
The day began without the sunshine of the previous days of this regatta and very little promise of improvement. Stephen Barclay, the CEO of ACEA, made an attempt to alleviate the gloom when he said: 'Naples is fantastic. We are learning from this relationship the possibilities before us with a city that provides an enthusiastic crowd.'
America’s Cup media for the ACWS in Naples Italy interviewed Stephen Barclay, CEO and America’s Cup Events Athority on April 20, 2013 before the start of the third day of racing. - Click Here to view large photo
He then went on to explain why some of the ACWS regattas did not happen this year. 'There were contractual problems with Venice and a regatta in New York in June would have materially interfered with the Louis Vuitton Cup start at the beginning of July – it was too close,' said Barclay.
The America’s Cup will get underway in San Francisco with an opening ceremony on July 4th and it will be 'a ceremony – just that,' declared Barclay, 'the next day there will be a fleet race for all the Louis Vuitton challengers and the defender.' He added that Oracle would field only one of its two AC-72s. Interestingly, the bleachers’ seats sold out for this event in the first 24 hours.
That might go a small way to assuaging the constant criticism leveled at this America’s Cup by various bodies in San Francisco. Lack of interest cannot now be levied as a reason for complaint, but the Californian city would envy the enthusiasm of the citizens of Naples who lined the two kilometres of foreshore again today, ten to twelve deep – conservatively estimated at well in excess of 120,000.
As if by magic, as the time for the racing approached, the clouds rolled away and there was 13 knots of seabreeze – almost perfect. The first match was between Tom Slingsby with Oracle and Ben Ainslie in BAR swith another crew from that stable. The pre-start was quiet but Slingsby started to windward of Ainslie and took the advantage to lead at the first mark and to the leeward gate.
Upwind Ainslie had a couple of bad tacks and lost further ground but towards the end of the beat, he picked up a favourable slant and was almost with Slingsby; the Oracle skipper just crossed ahead at the mark to start the run home still ahead. There was no further change and Slingsby went on to win by 20 seconds.
Bruni versus Draper came next and this led to an anomaly in the AC racing rules when both boats were OCS. Bruni who was ahead and to windward remained in that position after both had slowed for the penalty, yet he was the greater sinner of the two. Bruni led from then on but Draper, working the offshore side of the course did draw slightly ahead but didn’t risk the cross when the two boats met – he lost four lengths by a huge dip and never recovered.
Bruni then sailed coolly, minimizing his manoeuvres to stay in front. He won by 21 seconds and will meet Tom Slingsby in tomorrow’s final. On then to the fleet races and the crowd had grown bigger than on the two preceding days. Boats speeds were approaching 20-21 knots downwind.
Energy Team suffered damage and didn’t start the first of the fleet races. Dean Barker claimed the start, and that was all-important. So far this regatta, the boat that has rounded the first mark in the lead has won the race. And so it was to prove again. The Kiwis stepped out to a comfortable lead in the lumpy conditions over Slingsby with Oracle Team USA and these two drew away from the rest – the gap, at the finish, to third placed Luna Rossa – Piranha was 40 seconds.
Draper had jumped the gun at the start, cleared his penalty and was soon back in the action. But it was Roman Hagara in HR Racing that was making the third place running until the windward mark, where, unusually for the double Olympic Tornado gold medallist, he tacked and was hit by a wave and stopped, allowing the rest of the fleet to sail past. Ainslie, who had gone towards the shore, rounded in fourth place and the leaders’ positions did not change. It kept J.P.Morgan BAR in third place on points after five races, but five points behind Barker with ETNZ, on the same points as Slingsby.
The conditions were even lumpier for the second fleet race and Bruni led across the line from the windward end with Hagara making the running from the leeward end, but at the first mark it was Bruni from Ainslie with Barker third ahead of Hagara. Slingsby was buried in the pack. There was minor excitement of a different nature when the French ambassador fell off the back of Energy Team where he had been the guest racer.
Jane Powys, Accreditation Manager for the Media Center here in Naples Italy, wishes HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Bob Fisher - April 20, 2013, America’s Cup World Series, Naples, Italy. - Click Here to view large photo
Bruni and Barker headed on port tack towards the shore while Ainslie and Draper went offshore. When both groups tacked, Barker crossed Ainslie by a length, but as the Brit went towards the shore, he picked a favourable slant for a while to lead. However, when they all came together at the weather gate, Barker was one length ahead of Ainslie with Bruni a couple of lengths further back.
With a simple bear away set, Barker and Ainslie seemed tied together by a short string, but two thirds of the way down the leg, as Ainslie went for a gybe, BAR crossed the boundary and was penalized! It was an unforced error of the worst type – the sting went out of the challenge as Ben slowed the boat to clear the penalty and worse still, Bruni moved into second place.
The second round was more processional and the order hardly changed. Barker and ETNZ went on to win by 16 seconds from Bruni with Ainslie third, Draper fourth and Slingsby fifth. It was a triumphal day for the Kiwis with two stunning victories to lead the scorecard after six races, five points clear of Oracle Team – Slingsby, with J.P.Morgan BAR a further three points back, but with the points loading of the final race, any of the top four teams could win overall after 'Super Sunday.'
Saturday’s Child, Bob Fisher is interviewed by the Italian Media on his Birthday at the ACWS in Naples Italy April 20, 2013. - Click Here to view large photo
1. Emirates TNZ 1,4,5,3,1,1 60
2. Oracle Team – Slingsby 2,6,1,2,2,5 55
3. J.P.Morgan BAR 3,1,6,4,4,3 52
4. Luna Rossa – Piranha 4,2,4,5,3,4 50
5. Energy Team 7,3,2,1,DNS,6 42
6. Luna Rossa – Swordfish 5,5,3,DNF,5,2 40
7. Artemis 6,7,7,7,6,8 31
8. HS Racing 8,9,8,6,8,7 26
9. China Team ` 9,8,9,8,7,9 22
© This report and images are copyright to Linda Wright, Bob Fisher and Sail-World.com and may not be republished without permission
by Bob Fisher - 8:03 PM Sat 20 Apr 2013 GMT
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