New ACWS trophy unveiled to be awarded to Series winner in Newport.
ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill carries a narrow one point lead into racing in Venice, with Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand eager to regain top spot. Venice marks the penultimate event of the 2011-12 AC World Series, with the overall winner to be determined in Newport, Rhode Island, next month.
At the skippers’ press conference on Tuesday in Venice, the sailors were shown, for the first time, the newly commissioned AC World Series Trophy. The topic of conversation was the parity of the fleet, and how difficult it would be to post a consistent scoreline in the racing this week.
“Every single person here wants to win this Series,” Spithill said. “But Venice is going to be very, very challenging. I think the key is to be consistent. Now the level is such that everyone can win. We’ve seen that, and in Venice there will be a lot more opportunities for passing. It will never be over until you get across the finish line. For the spectators it will be fantastic and for the sailors it will be a real test.”
“The battle for consistency is pretty difficult…” agreed Terry Hutchinson, skipper of the third place Artemis Racing. “The challenge is dealing with the conditions and the other competitors and trying to get through some situations that appear quite random at times to get that consistency. The good news is that it’s not a big mystery, the difficult part is in executing.”
The newly commissioned AC World Series Trophy is polished silver, similar to the America’s Cup itself. The nine wing sails supporting the globe represent the nine teams competing in the 2011-12 AC World Series. The globe reflects the international nature of the competing teams and venues, while the overall design is a tribute to the precision of technology that is such an important aspect of the sport.
America’s Cup World Series racing in Venice starts on Thursday at 1415 CEST. Two fleet races along with the first Quarter Final match races are on the schedule for the first day.
On Tuesday afternoon, the teams are scheduled to participate in the first official training day. Practice is also scheduled for Wednesday, but a forecast for poor conditions means Tuesday’s time on the water becomes even more valuable.
Dean Barker, skipper Emirates Team New Zealand, on the challenge of switching to multihulls: “It’s been a case of having to re-learn a lot of instincts. A lot of the natural reactions have been wrong, but slowly we’re improving on that. It’s one of those things that we know that even when we get to the Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco next year we’ll still be learning every day. It’s just one of those processes. You see in each event that one team tends to have stepped up relative to the rest. It’s going to be a case of who steps up the best right at the end. It’s a fantastic challenge…”
Loick Peyron, skipper Energy Team, on how his team has developed over the past year: “Yann (Guichard) and the team have done a very good job in San Diego and in Naples and improved a lot. So it’s much easier now on the helm. I can push or pull and the guys are just working as they should. We’ve been sailing for a few days here and it’s maybe one of the best places to train. The weather conditions are great.”
Darren Bundock, skipper, ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock, on having Russell Coutts join his crew: “I wouldn’t say it’s pressure. 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! We think it’s great. How often do you get to boss the boss around?!?”
Nathan Outteridge, skipper Team Korea, on getting back into the AC World Series after winning his fourth 49er World Championship last week: “I’m pretty excited to be back here and racing with the best guys in the world. It’s a great chance to get back into it. I went for a quick sail yesterday… And I’m looking forward to getting out there again today and gearing up for the event. It’s an amazing place to sail here in Venice and hopefully we can build on what we did in Naples.”
Phil Robertson, skipper, China Team, on the youth of his team (at 25, he’s the youngest skipper in the fleet): “It’s a big step for us. We’re the youngest team. Our average age is about 26 on board, so for us it’s all about focusing on boat handling and trying to take the small steps to get to the level of these guys. All of these teams have been together for a while and sailing these boats for over a year, so it’s just a matter of trying to catch up to their level.”
Chris Draper, helmsman, Luna Rossa Piranha, on feeling the pressure to perform: “(Skipper) Max Sirena and the team have been very quick to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves. We still have some massive weak areas we can improve upon. If we keep focusing on ourselves and making sure that we’re improving, the results will take care of themselves.”
Paul Campbell-James, helmsman, Luna Rossa Swordfish, on why they’ve been able to catch up to the rest of the fleet so quickly: “Having the two boats allows us to get the most we can out of the training sessions and every day we go out on the water. Our team sailed together last year in the X40s and Chris did so well with Team Korea, so we’re learning a lot from each other.”
2011-12 AC World Series, Overall Leaderboard
1. ORACLE TEAM USA – Spithill… 67 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand… 66 points
3. Artemis Racing… 54 points
4. Energy Team… 48 points
5. ORACLE TEAM USA – Bundock… 47 points
6. Team Korea… 47 points
7. China Team… 26 points
8. Luna Rossa Piranha… 19 points
9. Luna Rossa Swordfish… 12 points