Fisher's View: Wished for a Lay Day - America's Cup WS, Naples - Day 2

Oracle Team USA is traveling so fast entering the leeward gate that the water spray is flying above the sailors at an official practice race at the ACWS Naples Italy on April 17, 2013.

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.

He writes:

Day 2: Wednesday in Naples
Ben Ainslie skipper of J.P. Morgan Bar is bringing his AC45 toward the leeward gate at an official practice on the Bay of Napoli on April 17, 2013.
There was a time, back when Olympic classes regattas were week-long affairs with one race a day, that Wednesdays were always lay days. Some of the sailors in the ACWS final regatta might have wished it were still the case, but all nine boats were out all afternoon for practice racing, just as they had been the previous day.

It did appear that there were two well-defined divisions with the bigger teams consistently showing at the front of the fleet – spare a thought for Mitch Booth who was having to 'coach' four rookie Chinese crewmen aboard Team China, but also give praise to the Chinese for opting to man the boat in this way.

The two Luna Rossa boats, notably that steered by Chris Draper, who had performed so well here last year, were consistently good as was the J.P.Morgan BAR team and Emirates Team New Zealand as well. But, given the combined experience, this was to be expected. Whether it will continue when the racing becomes serious and races count for points, one will have to wait, but in the lightish breezes, it would seem a reasonable pointer.

The Oracle Team USA was also there or thereabouts. Steered by Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby, it had a decided Australian flavor in the crew. Besides the skipper, Sam Newton and Kinley Fowler hail from Down Under while Rome Kirby is the only national of the US in the crew. One might expect surprises from this team, given the added experience of Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen.

Skipper Dean Barker is in control of Emirates Team New Zealand as he calmly passes through the leeward gate at an official practice race for the ACWS on the Bay of Napoli in Italy.
ETNZ’s team is a definite 'first eleven' and willdoubtless be found at the front, but the months of AC-72 sailing appears to have blunted its old sharpness. When racing begins in earnest, the old style will return; there is no doubting the seriousness which this event has generated in the team.

The Energy Team, devoid of Loick Peyron (now with Artemis in San Francisco) does appear to have lost some of its impetus, perhaps because, apart from skipper Yann Guichard, the crew is relatively unfamiliar with the AC-45.

Among the biggest learners is the Artemis skipper, Charlie Ekberg, who will be racing in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup later in the year, but he does have a highly experienced crew in Tony Tindill, 'Nocker' Nossiter, Peter Merrington, and 'Cat Flap' Cornwell. They will drag the best out of their young protégé.

Never mind the need to work, the native Neapolitans will be out in force to watch the first of Thursday’s races, all along the foreshore.

It will start with a match race qualifier between the China Team and HS Racing, before two match race quarter finals – BAR versus Energy, and Luna Rossa – Piranha versus Artemis. The matches will be followed by two fleet races with 12 points for the winner, 10 for second and then one less for each place.

Only for the 'Super Sunday' single race does this change, when the winner receives 40, the second 25, the third 20 and progressively less for later finishers.

© This report and images are copyright to Bob Fisher, Linda Wright and Sail-World.com and may not be republished without permission

AC45 boats are traveling at speeds of 25 or more knots going toward the leeward gate at an official practice race on the Bay of Napoli in Italy on April17, 2013.

People on shore are able to watch Skipper Chris Draper sail Luna Rossa Piranha through the leeward gate and round the starboard Mark boat April 17, 2013 at an official practice race on the Bay of Napoli in Italy.

Ben Ainslie skipper of J.P. Morgan Bar is bringing his AC45 toward the leeward gate at an official practice on the Bay of Napoli on April 17, 2013.

Chris Draper skipper for Luna Rosa is coming off the start in a first place position at speeds of more than 25 knots toward the leeward gate at the ACWS official practice race on the Bay of Napoli in Italy.