America's Cup World Series, Naples: Oracle Team USA ready for battle

34th America’s Cup / ACWS Naples / Oracle Racing / Practice
Following on from alternating between sailing the AC72 and training for the next America’s Cup World Series, Oracle Team USA is in Naples, Italy, and ready to focus on racing the AC45. Skipper Tom Slingsby and crew Sam Newton (wing trimmer), Kinley Fowler (jib trimmer), Rome Kirby (runner) and Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (bowman), arrived over the weekend and hit the ground running in preparation for this week’s regatta, held April 16-21.

'All of our focus has been on the AC72, but on the days that we are not sailing on the AC72, we have been able get out on the AC45s. We’ve had a few training sessions over the last couple of weeks which have been really important,' said Slingsby. 'We’ll have a few days of training and hopefully improve as much as we can before racing starts. And, I know to expect huge crowds – last year was the biggest crowd I’ve seen in sailing, so I’ll be ready for that, which will hopefully take away some of the nerves.'

Slingsby, gold medalist from the London 2012 Olympic Games, will helm the team’s entry in the regatta, marking his first ACWS as skipper. He has been in the tactician role in previous ACWS regattas, including the 2012 ACWS in Naples.

'I’m really excited,' Slingsby said. 'I’ve been given an opportunity that I’m sort of taking with both hands and trying to run with it. It won’t be easy – any skipper in their first event in the AC45s hasn’t traditionally done too well, and it’s always quite tough. But, we’ll do our best. We’re a young, motivated team and we’ll see how it goes.'

The crew was on the water shortly after landing in Naples. On Sunday, they raced in the Coast Parade Trophy 2013 along the Naples coastline, finishing third.

Nine boats will be racing in the ACWS Naples, including Artemis Racing, China Team, Emirates Team New Zealand, Energy Team, HS Racing, JP Morgan BAR, and two crews from Luna Rossa, alongside Oracle Team USA Slingsby. The first match race gets underway at 13:45 local CET in Naples / 4:45 am PT in San Francisco on Thursday, April 18, followed by fleet racing. The first match race for Slingsby and crew will take place on Friday, April 19. Racing will be broadcast live on the America’s Cup YouTube channel.

'Obviously we’ve been busy with the AC72, and our focus, for the most part, has been on the Cup. Training on the AC45s has been put on the back burner a bit,' said Kirby. 'We’ve all raced in World Series events, but not as a team. We have been out training, but things change when you get around other boats.

'Now that the Naples event is here, we’re all excited to go racing again,' Kirby continued. 'We have a good team, so we’ll see what happens. It should be fun.'

The city of Naples hosts the grand finale of the 2012-13 America’s Cup World Series. It marks the final regatta for the team prior to the 34th America’s Cup. Naples also hosted an ACWS in April 2012.

Oracle Team Usa Crew List: Tom Slingsby (helmsman), Sam Newton (wing trimmer), Kinley Fowler (jib trimmer), Rome Kirby (runner), Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (bowman)

Oracle Team USA website