America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ looks to defend lead

America’s Cup World Series Naples 2012 - Luna Rossa test racing Vs Emirates Team New Zealand

Racing starts in earnest tomorrow in the America’s Cup World Series regatta at Naples, Italy.

Leading the series by a one-point margin, Emirates Team New Zealand is looking for consistent results through the five days of racing.

Skipper Dean Barker agreed with a questioner at this morning’s press conference that it won’t be an easy task to maintain or extend the slender advantage by the regatta’s end.

He said all the teams had improved since the last regatta at San Diego in November last year and Luna Rossa’s two-boat debut in the ACWS added a new and unknown element to the mix.

'We are better prepared for Naples than we were for San Diego. Nine teams are racing here and every one has the ability to win races and win the regatta. There are no certainties, no favourites. The dynamics of the fleet have changed a lot since San Diego.

'Our first job is to get back into racing mode after months of doing very little race practice.'

Weather forecasts for the days ahead predict bigger winds than the teams experience in practice - and some rain, too.

The crew for tomorrow is Barker, James Dagg, Ray Davies, Winston Macfarlane and Glenn Ashby.

Emirates Team New Zealand leads the America’s Cup World Series overall after three regattas - at Cascais in August 2011, Plymouth in September and San Diego in November.

With 55 points of a possible 46, the team also tops the standings in match racing and is equal first in fleet racing.

With experience of seriously sailing multihulls of only just over a year, the team is satisfied that its transition from being a successful top-level monohull teams in recent years to a potentially successful multihull racing team, is well on track.