Three America’s Cup World Series regattas this season, and three match racing titles for ORACLE TEAM USA. On Sunday in Naples, Italy, skipper Tom Slingsby and crew secured the third, defeating Luna Rossa Swordfish in the match race final. After a second-place finish in the Super Sunday fleet race, ORACLE TEAM USA also wraps up a successful season and claims the overall ACWS 2012-13 season championship.
“We are really proud to be getting the trophy for ORACLE TEAM USA,” said Slingsby. “Obviously, Jimmy Spithill and his team really set it up for us and we just had to come here, do our best. Luckily, they gave us a big enough points lead to take home the trophy.”`
ORACLE TEAM USA entered the ACWS Naples carrying a 44-point lead in the season standings with skipper Jimmy Spithill at the helm. While he remained in San Francisco to prepare for the team’s second AC72 to launch, Slingsby took the reins. With today’s results, ORACLE TEAM USA captures the ACWS season championship with 245 points, followed by Luna Rossa Piranha (191) and JP Morgan BAR (181). Spithill guided ORACLE TEAM USA to the inaugural ACWS championship last year.
On the match race final start, Luna Rossa Swordfish pinned ORACLE TEAM USA inside to lead off the line. Slingsby was behind through the first four gates. On the fifth leg, the crew made up ground, closing what was once a more than 100-meter gap, to gain the advantage. ORACLE TEAM USA rounded the final two gates in the lead, and extended across the finish line to win by more than 30 seconds.
“A great win for the team,” Slingsby said. “Luckily it was a long race, and half way through we were quite a bit behind. But, I said to the boys, we’re still in this. Slowly, but surely, we caught up and made the passing maneuver on the last beat, and went on to hold it from there.”
ORACLE TEAM USA won each of the match racing titles at ACWS events this season. Russell Coutts guided a crew to the win at the ACWS San Francisco in August 2012, and Spithill and crew took the win at the ACWS San Francisco in October 2012.
Slingsby carried course knowledge learned from the match race into the Super Sunday final fleet race, where bonus points were on the board. After a slingshot start, ORACLE TEAM USA took the early lead. Energy Team moved ahead at the third gate, and Slingsby met Luna Rossa Swordfish again at the mark.
On the fifth leg, ORACLE TEAM USA moved ahead, taking advantage of a big lift of wind. But, following the sixth gate, Slingsby was forced to bear away from China Team and lost ground. Luna Rossa Swordfish took the late lead and carried it across the finish line. ORACLE TEAM USA finished second.
“The racing was so shifty, the positions were changing all the time, going up the last beat I felt we had it in the bag,” Slingsby said. “But, unfortunately we fell into a bit of a hole up the last beat, we took the wrong mark at the top, didn’t lay the mark we wanted, and we paid the price. Swordfish passed us and they took the overall honors.”
ORACLE TEAM USA and Luna Rossa Swordfish finished tied with 80 points in the overall regatta fleet race standings, but the tiebraker went to Luna Rossa Swordfish for the win in the final race. Emirates Team New Zealand finished third at the ACWS Naples with 71 points, followed by Luna Rossa Piranha (70) and JP Morgan BAR (65).
The team now turns attention to the launch of their second AC72 on Tuesday, April 23, in San Francisco, marking the start of the next phase of training for the 34th America’s Cup Final in September.
The nine boat fleet: Artemis Racing White (Charlie Ekberg), China Team (Mitch Booth), Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker), Energy Team (Yann Guichard), HS Racing (Roman Hagara), J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie), Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper), Luna Rossa Swordfish (Francesco Bruni), and ORACLE TEAM USA SLINGSBY (Tom Slingsby).
Courtesy of oracle-team-usa.americascup.com