Energy Team Wins Dramatic Venice Fleet Racing Championship

On the final day of Americaís Cup World Series racing in Venice last month, LoÔck Peyron continued to demonstrate the form he had shown during the whole event, leading his Energy Team to a spectacular win.

Although they did not leave Venice victorious, ORACLE TEAM USA will enter the final event of the 2011-2012 AC World Series in Newport, Rhode Island at the top of the leaderboard with a four-point lead over Emirates Team New Zealand. Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget

Published: June, 2012

On the final day of America’s Cup World Series racing in Venice last month, Loïck Peyron continued to demonstrate the form he had shown during the whole event, leading his Energy Team to a spectacular win. Peyron and his French crew had been perched atop the leaderboard all week, demonstrating an impressive command of the Grand Canal race area.

"I think the lighter conditions were good for us," Peyron, the veteran multihull sailor, said. "I’m used to this kind of tricky game, trying to be as cool as possible. The pressure was in the red zone, but it made for an exciting race for sure. This was a big victory for us. We are a small team, and hopefully this is just the beginning."

Winds were exceptionally light on Sunday, turning the San Marco race course into perhaps the most challenging one the teams have faced in the America’s Cup World Series to date. The smallest puffs of wind were rewarded with dramatic bursts of speed, leading to teams quickly moving up and down the race leaderboard on the first lap of the course, the positions changing from minute to minute.

Early in the race, on the first long downwind leg, Peyron proved to be the best at finding a clear lane and escaped clear ahead of the fleet, with ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill following suit a few moments later.

While the French built what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, Spithill kept the pressure on, closing the gap right down to the point where the result wasn’t secure until the final gybe on the finishing line. As the horn sounded to signal victory, Peyron collapsed on the trampoline of his boat in dramatic relief while his crew celebrated around him.

In contrast to the leaders, the bulk of the fleet had trouble separating themselves and at one point became trapped in a very slow pile-up at one of the turning marks, with too many boats trying to squeeze between the mark and the nearby shoreline at the same time.

Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing popped out of that incident in third place, with Emirates Team New Zealand chasing them around the race course—even closing enough to incur a penalty for a slow motion collision—before Artemis regained the advantage to lead the Kiwis across the line.

Earlier in the afternoon, and for the second consecutive event, Artemis Racing defeated Chris Draper’s Luna Rossa-Piranha to win the Match Racing Championship. In the light, shifty, and tricky conditions, Hutchinson and his crew won the start and protected a narrow lead early before stretching away in the middle of the race for a hard-earned victory.

The results in Venice see ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill gain some breathing room on the overall AC World Series leaderboard over Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwis will also now be looking over their shoulders, with Artemis Racing closing in as well, nine points further back.

"We came here with a one-point lead over Emirates Team New Zealand. We’re leaving with a four-point lead," said Spithill. "That’s the important thing. I’m happy with how the team did. Obviously we’ve got a lot to work on but there’s no question we’ll be ready for Newport."

The final event of the 2011-12 AC World Series will take place in Newport, Rhode Island from June 26 through July 1. At the conclusion of racing in Newport, the 2011-12 AC World Series champion will be crowned.