Arrivederci Napoli, Buon Giorno Venezia

Written by April Thygeson, OCSC

Amidst light, shifty, and erratic conditions during the last race of the Naples World Series Event, Chris Draper led Luna Rossa in securing a thrilling win. James Spithill of ORACLE Racing had appeared to be dead in the water early in the series, but like Draper he was up to the challenge of the tricky conditions. His recovery secured ORACLE an impressive second place.

Although Luna Rossa Challenge won the fleet racing competition, and Artemis Racing prevailed in the match racing in Naples, ORACLE Racing Spithill is now the AC World Series overall point leader, having overtaken Emirates Team New Zealand by just 1 point.

Tens of thousands of Italian fans were enthralled by Luna Rossa’s victory and the streets of Naples teemed with celebrants. “We sailed along the shore after the finish and it’s insane to see how many people are here,” said Luna Rossa’s Draper. “As a sailor you’d never imagine having so many people watching. It’s great for the sport, and great to be part of an Italian team in front of all these people. We’re very proud.”

Over 500,000 fans turned out to watch the regatta during the week of racing in Naples. 70 hours of live coverage was broadcast globally, and over 350 media were accredited on site to cover the event, resulting in coverage in more than 850 media outlets.

Straight from record-breaking crowds and triumph in Naples, the Series heads to Venice, for the second to last regatta in the inaugural America’s Cup World Series. Racing will take place from May 15th to 20th amid a nine-day festival of sailing from May 12th to 20th. The racecourse is one of the narrowest and most challenging in competitive sailing.

Fresh from a win in their first regatta in front of home country fans, Luna Rossa anticipates tough competition in Venice.  “Naples showed us that any of the teams can win on any given day,” said Luna Rossa’s skipper Max Sirena. “The racing is so close that you can’t afford to be off the pace for even one race or you will fall down the leader-board. Venice will be exceptionally tight putting a premium on boat-handling.”

The 2011-2012 AC World Series will conclude in Newport, Rhode Island on July 1st. The only certainty is that the Championship won’t be decided before then.

-April