The AC World Series de Naples begins on Thursday 16th April and will see the elite AC45 crews doing battle. Led by Yann Guichard, the French crew on Energy Team have a tough fight ahead of them against competitors that have been training for a long time.
The final AC45 event before the Louis Vuitton Cup, the AC World Series in Naples looks like being extremely spectacular, as it is expected to be raced in the sunshine and near perfect conditions, with a moderate thermal breeze. Yann Guichard, who will be at the helm of the Energy Team AC45, is expecting 8 to 14 knots of wind on relatively calm seas. “In any case, we are not going to be facing the sort of extreme conditions we experienced last year, when the wind was too strong… or indeed much too weak.”
Between Vesuvius and Capri, the Bay of Naples will offer “one final opportunity to shine in a magnificent setting, with the boats sailing right up close to the breakwater,” explained the pilot of Energy Team. Most of the French crew remains unchanged with Christophe André, Arnaud Jarlegan, and Devan Le Bihan. The only change from the last event is the arrival of Christophe Espagnon as wing trimmer. “We know Christophe very well – we went through an Olympic training together – and he has settled in very well,” Yann told us.
Outsiders… with ambitions
Energy Team has been training in Naples for ten days with the main aim of working on their manoeuvres and ensuring the team works well together down to the smallest detail. Yann Guichard tells us more: “We have been sailing every day; in the morning with the youngsters in the Youth Team, and in the afternoon with the usual crew on the AC45. It’s really important to get in as much sailing as possible, as our major rivals have been training a lot on their boats, particularly the teams which also have an AC72. The serious contenders are going to be the English, Swedes, New Zealanders and of course the Americans on Oracle. They will be the logical favourites, and even if James Spithill isn’t going to be at the helm of Oracle, I’m not worried for Tom Slingsby, his replacement: he wasn’t five times world champion and Olympic champion in the Laser class for no reason… He has got what it takes.”
The highest level of competition
The competition that is present in Naples is going to be very tough and well prepared, but that is no reason not to hope for the best. Yann Guichard: “We’re bound to be the outsiders, but as we finished in fourth place here last year, our goal is to make it to the podium… and why not to the very top? In this final opportunity of the season, we want to leave our mark.” The other teams, starting with the two Italian Luna Rossa boats, who will be on their home waters, will see things rather differently.
Dealing with local effects
One of the keys to succeeding here will be getting to grips with the local effects caused by the natural topography of the Bay of Naples and by the buildings in the city itself. Energy Team’s helmsman understands that: “Some of the effects here are so strong that they can force you onto a different tack. The Bay of Naples is a very demanding place to sail for that reason. Once again, it is going to vital to get off to a good start.”
Energy Team’s crew:
Yann Guichard (skipper – helmsman), Christophe Espagnon (wing trimmer), Arnaud Jarlegan (trimmer), Devan Le Bihan(trimmer) and Christophe André (bowman).
The 9 crews lining up with their helmsmen:
- Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) ;
- Oracle USA (Tom Slingsby) ;
- J.P.Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) ;
- Artemis Racing White (Charlie Ekberg) ;
- Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) :
- HS Racing (Roman Hagara/Hans-Peter Steinacher) ;
- China Team (Mitch Booth) ;
- Luna Rossa Swordfish (Francesco Bruni)
- Energy Team (Yann Guichard).
- Thursday 18th April: fleet races 1 and 2 + qualifiers and match race quarter finals
- Friday 19th April: fleet races 3 and 4 + match race quarter finals
- Saturday 20th April: fleet races 5 and 6 + match race semi-finals
- Sunday 21st April: fleet race 7 + match race final
Watch the racing on TV: In France the races can be seen on Sport+ on Thursday and Friday and on Canal+ Sport on Saturday and Sunday.