'Newbies' Get Their Feet Wet In Venice

'Newbies' Get Their Feet Wet In Venice © GILLES MARTIN-RAGET / ACEA


Four crews sailed off Venice today as the teams ramp up their preparations ahead of racing next week. Both Luna Rossa crews - Piranha and Swordfish - were on the water as they get ready for just their second AC World Series event.

Also sailing off Lido Island this afternoon was Energy Team and China Team. While neither are new, both teams have different skippers from Naples. Energy Team will be led by the grizzled Loïck Peyron, who returns to the crew after missing the San Diego and Naples regattas.

And China Team will have New Zealander Phil Robertson as skipper. At 25, he is the youngest in the fleet.

Robertson, for one, was keen to get time on the water today.

"We did a bit of sailing with Energy Team, some starts and some racing," he said. "We learned a lot today and we were really able to focus on our boat handling."

Boat handling is always an issue for the less experienced teams. The short, narrow race courses at the AC World Series are challenging for the best crews and the AC45 catamarans become a handful as soon as the wind strength increases.

But lighter breezes are forecast for Venice, which should help a crew like China Team.

"The boat handling isn't as massive an issue in lighter conditions, so that probably makes it a little bit better for us," Robertson confirmed. "As soon as the wind gets above 10 knots, it's all on."

But his training partner today, Loïck Peyron, isn't too worried for the young Kiwi.

"The learning curve should be quick for them, they're young, they're very good, they'll learn fast," he said.

And for Robertson, that is what these training sessions are all about - there's always more to learn with time limited before racing starts.

"The teams here are very professional and we're a very young team, so trying to get up to their level is a huge step," he said. "Every day we're focusing on taking the small steps we need to get there and hopefully by the start of the event we'll be ready to perform."