The sole America’s Cup World Series event of 2013 began today in Naples with Emirates Team New Zealand looking strong.
Playing no part in the initial rounds of the match racing (the team goes straight through to the quarter finals) Dean Barker and his crew hit the start line of the first fleet race with pace and rounded the first mark just metres astern of the Oracle AC45.
Their lead was short lived as Emirates Team New Zealand was right there to pounce on an unforced error by Oracle on the fourth leg, when they sailed outside the race course boundary and was penalised.
Barker said, “We thought we were close enough to have a crack at Oracle as we had a good jump on the third placed boat so we gave it a nudge. In the end they blew it by going over the boundary in the gybe so it was nice to be on the right side of that one.”
Once their nose was in front that was where it stayed, walking the fine line of playing the shifts and covering the trailing boats until crossing the line just off the Naples foreshore to cheers of the growing local crowd.
“It was one of those days that if you get your nose in front you tend to have a few more options”, was how wing trimmer Glenn Ashby saw it.
In the second race Emirates Team New Zealand boat was caught to leeward of two boats that were over the line early and were held up getting away, rounding the reach mark in 5th place.
The breeze continued to shift dramatically around the course and by the end of the final race had dropped from a start speed of 12 knots to a light 7 knots.
The team pushed hard and sailed fast all the way around the track and finished the final run with pace taking a big chunk into the lead of the boats ahead, finishing in 4th place with skipper Barker’s finishing comment, “Good day guys”
This result sees Emirates Team New Zealand finish the first day in second place overall, just one point off the lead from BAR Ben Ainslie Racing. Dean Barker: “Our objective when we left the dock today was to be in the top three when we came in, and it was a day where you almost had to survive more than try to win. The guys did a good job.”
Match racing starts tomorrow with a quarter=final race against Luna Rossa Swordfish skippered by Francesco Bruni followed by two more fleet races.
America’s Cup World Series Naples Standings
(Provisional, after 2 of 7 scheduled races)
1. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) – 21 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) – 20
3. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) – 18
4. ORACLE TEAM USA (Tom Slingsby) – 16
5. Energy Team (Yann Guichard) – 14
6. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Francesco Bruni) – 14
7. Artemis Racing White (Charlie Ekberg) – 11
8. China Team (Mitch Booth) – 7
9. HS Racing (R. Hagara/H.S. Steinacher) – 7