Loïck Peyron continued to demonstrate the form he has shown all week, leading his Energy Team to a spectacular win on the final day of America’s Cup World Series racing in Venice. Peyron and his French crew have been perched atop the leaderboard all four days this week, demonstrating an impressive command of the Grand Canal race area.
“I think the lighter conditions were good for us,” Peyron, the veteran multihull sailor, said. “I’m used to this kind of tricky game, trying to be as cool as possible. The pressure was in the red zone, but it made for an exciting race for sure. This was a big victory for us. We are a small team, and hopefully this is just the beginning.”
Winds were exceptionally light on Sunday, turning the San Marco race course into perhaps the most challenging one the teams have faced in the World Series to date. The smallest puffs of wind were rewarded with dramatic bursts of speed, leading to teams quickly moving up and down the race leaderboard on the first lap of the course, the positions changing from minute to minute.
Early in the race, on the first long downwind leg, Peyron proved to be the best at finding a clear lane and escaped clear ahead of the fleet, with ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill following suit a few moments later.
While the French built what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, Spithill kept the pressure on, closing the gap right down to the point where the result wasn’t secure until the final gybe on the finishing line. As the horn sounded to signal victory, Peyron collapsed on the trampoline of his boat in dramatic relief, while his crew celebrated around him.
In contrast to the leaders, the bulk of the fleet had trouble separating themselves and at one point became trapped in a very slow pile-up at one of the turning marks, with too many boats trying to squeeze between the mark and the nearby shoreline at the same time.
Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing popped out of that incident in third place, with Emirates Team New Zealand chasing them around the race course – even closing enough to incur a penalty for a slow motion collision – before Artemis regained the advantage to lead the Kiwis across the line.
Meanwhile the rest of the fleet was too far back to finish within the time limit and were scored as ‘did not finish’, earning no points on the day.
Earlier in the afternoon, and for the second consecutive event, Artemis Racing defeated Chris Draper’s Luna Rossa-Piranha to win the Match Racing Championship. In the light, shifty, and tricky conditions, Hutchinson and his crew won the start and protected a narrow lead early before stretching away in the middle of the race for a hard-earned victory.
“We’ve had a good result in Naples and now here, in quite different conditions,” Hutchinson said. “The nice thing about the match racing at these regattas is we’ve executed on our game plan. We’re starting to feel with the training in the boat that it’s paying off for us.”
The results in Venice see ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill gain some breathing room on the overall AC World Series leaderboard over Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwis will also now be looking over their shoulders, with Artemis Racing closing in as well, nine points further back.
“We came here with a one-point lead over Emirates Team New Zealand. We’re leaving with a four-point lead,” said Spithill as he looked ahead to Newport. “That’s the important thing. I’m happy with how the team did. Obviously we’ve got a lot to work on but there’s no question we’ll be ready for Newport.”
The final event of the 2011-12 AC World Series will take place next month in Newport, Rhode Island from June 26 through July 1, 2012. At the conclusion of racing in Newport, the 2011-12 AC World Series champion will be crowned.
2011-12 AC World Series Overall Championship Leaderboard (after five of six events)
1. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill…84 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand…80 points
3. Artemis Racing…71 points
4. Energy Team…65 points
5. Team Korea…56 points
6. ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock…53 points
7. Luna Rossa Piranha…34 points
8. China Team…31 points
9. Luna Rossa Swordfish…21 points
AC World Series Venice Fleet Racing Championship – Final Leaderboard
1. Energy Team…74 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill…58 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand…54 points
4. Artemis Racing…52 points
5. Luna Rossa Piranha…43 points
6. Luna Rossa Swordfish…43 points
7. Team Korea…37 points
8. ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock…22 points
9. China Team…18 points
AC World Series Venice Match Racing Championship
Final Match: Artemis Racing defeated Luna Rossa – Piranha; 1-0
1. Artemis Racing
2. Luna Rossa Piranha
3. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill
4. Energy Team
5. Emirates Team New Zealand
6. Team Korea
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish
8. ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock
9. China Team
*The losers of the Semi Final and Quarter Final matches have been assigned final finishing positions (3rd through 9th) in the Match Racing Championship as per the Sailing Instructions.
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL heads into Thursday’s start of the ACWS – Venice looking to extend its overall lead at the penultimate event of the 2011-12 ACWS season.
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL leads the overall standings by 1 point after placing second last month in Naples. That helped skipper Jimmy Spithill and his four-man crew leap Emirates Team New Zealand into the top spot. Teams have been accumulating points in the two formats since the first regatta last August in Portugal.
Venice figures to be more than just a change of scenery. The 14th century Gothic architecture of the historic city will provide a photogenic backdrop for the speedy AC45 wingsail catamarans, and a tight racecourse will keep crews jumping more than normal on the athletic cats.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic event from an iconic picture – racing in the canals of Venice is gonna be cool,” said Spithill, who at 30 years of age in 2010 became the youngest skipper to ever win the America’s Cup.
At today’s opening press conference Spithill recognized Italian soccer
star Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon by wearing a jersey of the Italian national
team. Buffon was goalkeeper for Italy when it won the World Cup in 2006 and also stars for Serie A club Juventus F.C. Spithill and Buffon traded jerseys yesterday after Buffon sailed on the canals with ORACLE TEAM USA.
“Gigi is a legend,” Spithill said. “He sailed with us yesterday. It’s great to be able to show athletes from other codes how athletic our sport is. These guys are blown away by what they see.”
ORACLE TEAM USA BUNDOCK holds fifth in the overall standings,
20 points behind Spithill and crew. Skipper Darren Bundock will welcome a new tactician to his crew: Russell Coutts, the team CEO and four-time America’s Cup winner. Coutts steps in for Tom Slingsby, who is taking time to focus on his Laser campaign for the London Olympics.
“Russell is a true legend in the America’s Cup and a great addition to our boat tactically. Russell has been thrown in at the deep end. He’s up front, pulling ropes and seeing how physical he’s made these boats! How often do you get to boss the boss around? Normally he’s used to be being at the back of the boat giving orders. Now he’s at the front coping with them.”
Racing in Venice will be a mixture of fleet and match racing. The final fleet race on Sunday, May 20, will award more points than the first six races – 30 points for first as opposed to 10 points – which should afford many in the fleet an opportunity to shake-up the standings.
“Most of the teams in Naples put in a lot of practice time. We’re seeing a bit of equalization going on where anyone can win a race,” said Team USA Spithill tactician John Kostecki. “It’s becoming tougher to get an advantage and be at the very top. That’s a good evolution and I’m sure we’ll see more of that to come in Venice.”
“I think the racecourse could be really tricky,” Spithill said. “The racing will be inshore, flat water, narrow lanes…the boundary will be the shoreline. That’ll be great for the spectators and I think we’ll see a lot of people.”
ACWS – Venice is the fifth of six stops on the inaugural America’s Cup World Series. The final event is scheduled for Newport, R.I., home to the Cup for 25 years, in late June.
2011-12 America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
Team (Country) Match – Fleet — Total
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (USA) 30 – 37 — 67
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 30 – 36 — 66
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) 33 – 21 — 54
4. Energy Team (FRA) 25 – 23 — 48
5. ORACLE TEAM USA BUNDOCK (USA) 26 – 21 — 47
5. Team Korea (KOR) 25 – 22 — 47
7. China Team (CHN) 11 – 13 — 24
8. Green Comm Racing (ESP) 11 – 12 — 23
9. Luna Rossa Piranha 9 – 10 — 19
10. Luna Rossa Swordfish 7 – 5 — 12
(After four of six scheduled events)
The America’s Cup World Series has moved north. After the excitement of Naples, the next stop is Venice and this past week has seen the build out of the AC Village and team bases, as well as the first test sailing by one of the teams.
Within a week of the ship containing all of the AC World Series ‘materiel’ arriving in Venice, team bases were sprouting up, the AC Village in the Arsenale was taking shape, the television compound on Lido Island was being erected and the Italian team, Luna Rossa Challenge, had gone for its first sail with both crews.
With just one World Series regatta under its belt in Naples, Luna Rossa is out of contention for the 2011-12 AC World Series title. But that hasn’t made the team any less keen to be at the top of its game performing on home waters. It’s ‘Piranha’ crew, led by Chris Draper, won the Fleet Racing Championship in Naples – a sparkling debut. Now the team is hoping these early practice sessions will pay dividends in Venice.
At the top of the overall leaderboard, ORACLE Racing’s James Sptihill holds the slimmest of leads – one point – over Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand. Artemis Racing, with an impressive Match Racing win in Naples, has closed the gap in third place.
So it’s all to play for when the Championship Racing starts in Venice on May 17, in the penultimate event in the opening circuit. The 2011-12 AC World Series will then conclude in Newport, Rhode Island, home of the Cup from 1930 to 1987, at the end of June. And preparations are already ramping up there. It’s going to be an exciting few weeks in the 34th America’s Cup.
AC World Series crews have the opportunity to compete for €50,000 in prize money in the City of Venice Trophy on May 12-13. The invitational regatta, organized and announced today by the yacht club Venice Compagnia della Vela, marks the opening of a nine-day celebration of the America’s Cup World Series in the historic Italian city.
With €50,000 at stake, the City of Venice Trophy becomes an important prologue to the AC World Series championship. The new, two-day event consists of five, 30-minute fleet races, to be sailed on a course just outside Lido Island.
But the highlight will be Sunday’s long fleet race, which starts outside Lido Island and finishes just off St. Marks Square. The first team to finish at St. Marks Square will receive the City of Venice Trophy presented by Arzanà Navi as well as a cash prize of €30,000. The remaining €20,000 in prize money is distributed to the top three crews from the five 30-minute fleet races.
The results of City of Venice Trophy will not count towards the overall AC World Series rankings, but the generous prize money is sure to stoke competitive fires among the teams.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get in some meaningful racing against the other teams,” said Luna Rossa Challenge skipper Max Sirena. “We were always planning on sailing as early as possible in Venice, and now the City of Venice Trophy represents a great opportunity to participate in an additional very exciting and spectacular race.”
“The debut of the AC45s racing in Venice will certainly be very interesting,” said Mayor Giorgio Orsoni. “To have the teams competing for a trophy that bears the name of the city adds prestige to an already important event. Special thanks for this must go to Arzanà Navi, which has chosen to support us.
“This two-day regatta, with the grand finale a unique point to point race from Lido to St. Marks Square, is a first step towards seeing Compagnia della Vela as a host for high level sailing. This is a beautiful way to begin this nine day event, which we hope will be memorable, both for Venetians and for those who want to discover a new face of Venice – one linked to its traditions and the sea, but also to technology and a lesser known part of the city, the Arsenale, where the catamarans berth after racing for the City of Venice Trophy.”
The weekend of May 12-13 also marks the opening of the public event village for the full nine-day festival, highlighted by the championship races of the America’s Cup World Series Venice.
Championship Racing in the AC World Series Venice runs from May 17-20 and here, every race matters. Venice is the penultimate event in the 2011-12 World Series and James Spithill’s ORACLE Racing crew holds the overall lead by just one point over Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand.
Nine crews from seven countries are competing in the AC World Series in Venice, including: Artemis Racing (Sweden), skipper Terry Hutchinson; China Team (China), skipper Fred Le Peutrec; Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), skipper Dean Barker; Energy Team (France), helmsman Loïck Peyron; Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy), with two boats, helmsmen Chris Draper and Paul Campbell-James; ORACLE Racing (USA) with two boats, skippers James Spithill and Darren Bundock; and Team Korea (Korea) with skipper Nathan Outteridge.