First day’s racing in Naples looks to be full on for the crews reports Matthew Sheahan from the dockside

Twenty minutes before the start of the first race of the Naples leg of the AC World Series the breeze was blowing 15-22 knots and the sea was bouncing back off the shore. Conditions were already pretty spicy for the fleet of 45ft wing masted cats and with a forecast for rain showers and squalls that could see the breeze up in the 25-30 knots range, there was plenty of muttering around the dockside that this could be a Plymouth re-run.

The venue here in Naples is superb, both for spectators and sailors. Open to the sea, the westerly breeze is clean and the sailing area free from obstructions. For spectators, plenty of shore side vantage points on which the local population came out in their tens of thousands earlier in the week simply to take a look at the venue.

For those that have followed the story so far, the series is two teams down for this event following Aleph’s departure from the series and Green Comm pulling out of the Naples event.

But there has been an addition to the fleet, the second Luna Rossa boat, helmed by British sailor, Paul Campbell-James.

So, the breeze is up, the temperature’s dropped and two boats have almost bought it already!

This is one to watch….

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Race 1 – Summary

Breeze built throughout the 35 minute race, as did the sea state and created survival type conditions for the 9 boat fleet.

James Spithill’s team dominated the racing from the start and pulled out a sufficient lead to enable them to play the second downwind leg conservatively, leaving the gennaker on the netting. Their lead was never challenged.

Further back there was plenty of action as several boats made their bid for second through to fourth places. Hutchinson’s Artemis looked most in control until the closing stages where the Swedish team were forced onto the back foot, gave the lead to Team Energy and then capsized at the last bear away mark when the bows buried. The French team kept their cool and took second place.

Provisional Race One results

1. ORACLE Racing – Spithill

2. Energy Team

3. Emirates Team New Zealand

4. Team Korea

5. ORACLE Racing – Bundock

6. Luna Rossa – Piranha

7. Luna Rossa – Swordfish

8. Artemis Racing – DNF

8. China Team – DNF

Race 2 – Summary

When the breeze gets over 20 knots true it is common to see the two most experienced teams smoke over the horizon and so they did as Barker and Spithill left the remaining fleet behind – at least to start with.

The first race had seen serious wing damage to Artemis following their capsize, forcing them to sit out the remaining races of the day. (Indeed, the wing appears to be so badly damaged that there must surely be questions as to whether Hutchinson’s team can compete tomorrow.) Problems aboard China Team and Oracle Bundock meant that these boats were also unable to compete in race two.

With six boats racing it was Barker who slipped into the lead at the first bottom gate, slipping inside Spithill in a text book rounding. A narrow lead here stretched to a slim margin around the rest of the course. But at the last mark, third placed Nathan Outteridge helming Team Korea saw a passing lane and slipped past Spithill to finish second.

With the breeze and sea state fully up and showing no sign of easing, the third race of the day, which was only there in case there was no racing on Sunday, was cancelled.

The overall results after two races see Spithill leading Energy Team by just one point with Barker and ETNZ one further point behind in third and team Korea fourth.

Provisional Race Two results

1. Emirates Team New Zealand

2. Team Korea

3. ORACLE Racing – Spithill

4. Energy Team

5. Luna Rossa – Swordfish

6. Luna Rossa – Piranha

7. ORACLE Racing Bundock – DNS

7. Artemis Racing – DNS

7. China Team – DNS