Naples offered a new challenge to the nine crews competing in the America's Cup World Series on Friday as light, shifty offshore winds battled an onshore swell, resulting in a race course where gains and losses were often measured in the hundreds of yards.
ORACLE Racing Spithill had the best day across the two fleet races, posting two second-place finishes. In contrast, each race winner (Energy Team, Emirates Team New Zealand) also carried a seventh place score on the day. As a result, Jimmy Spithill's American team gained four points on the leading Kiwis, nearly cutting their lead in half over the course of the day.
"It was really hard,"
said Chris Draper
, the helmsman of Luna Rossa Piranha, who led his team to a consistent 3-4 performance. "The swell made it hard, surfing upwind and then straight into the waves downwind… So to get the results we did, I'm really pleased with our guys, they did a great job."
China Team, struggling to this point, also stood out on the day. Although skipper Fred Le Peutrec's team has yet to finish out of ninth place, on Friday their starts were outstanding and the team was among the early leaders in both races. After that however, the quality of the fleet was simply too strong for the new Chinese squad.
"Good starts, yes, but not good races
," he said after racing. "We are a bit frustrated by the wind shifts, but anyway, two good starts… Unlucky with the wind, but that's the game."
Following the two fleet races, the remaining two Match Racing Quarterfinals were completed. Emirates Team New Zealand found itself pushed deep into the standings by Terry Hutchinson's Artemis Racing, who found the right shifts in the tricky conditions to earn a lopsided victory. While Artemis advances to the Semi Finals, the Kiwis are forced to settle for a disappointing eighth place.
"It is nice to be able to gain some points on them for the overall World Series
," Hutchinson said. "But looking at the big picture, we still have a lot of work to do."
In the other Quarter Final, Luna Rossa Swordfish won a close match over Energy Team, becoming the second Italian crew to qualify for the Semi Finals.
"For the team, it's a great result for both boats to be in the top four
," said Manuel Modena, the trimmer on Luna Rossa Swordfish. "I hope we can both make it to the Final. Both our crews have the ability, but I would like to win if we both make it."
The program for Saturday starts with the Match Racing Semi Finals and Final followed by two Fleet Races. The start of the first match is scheduled for 1330 local time (CEST).
Fleet Racing Championship - Provisional Standings Day Three (after six races):
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (Skipper: Dean Barker); 52 points
2. ORACLE Racing - Spithill (Skipper: James Spithill); 47 points
3. Luna Rossa - Piranha (Helmsman: Chris Draper); 42 points
4. Team Korea (Skipper: Nathan Outteridge); 39 points
5. Energy Team (Skipper: Yann Guichard); 39 points
6. Luna Rossa - Swordfish (Helmsman: Paul Campbell-James); 35 points
7. ORACLE Racing - Bundock (Skipper: Darren Bundock); 28 points
8. Artemis Racing (Skipper: Terry Hutchinson); 20 points
9. China Team (Skipper: Fred Le Peutrec); 8 points
Match Racing Championship - Provisional Results:
QF3 - Artemis Racing beat Emirates Team New Zealand
QF4 - Luna Rossa Swordfish beat Energy Team
Emirates Team New Zealand finishes eighth in the Match Racing Championship; Artemis Racing advances to SF1.
Energy Team finishes fifth in the Match Racing Championship; Luna Rossa Swordfish advances to SF1
See full results here