After a challenging day in Naples, J.P.Morgan BAR sit in third place overall, eight points from Emirates Team New Zealand who lead after three days of fleet racing. Tomorrow is Super Sunday and the team is within touching distance of the event title here in Naples, with 40 points on offer for first place, 25 for second and 20 for third from tomorrow’s final fleet race, one small mistake by anyone can mean a big difference on the leaderboard, so there is everything to play for.
The team started the day going head to head with ORACLE TEAM USA in the first match racing semi-final. Simon Daubney talked through the race, “We felt we were in a good position at the start but they (OTUSA) managed to approach the line from a bit further back and they were able to pull the trigger and get going with enough speed to roll over the top of us. We came back at them and made it interesting but we couldn’t do enough to get past, so we were left to settle for third place in the match race, which was a tough way to start the day”.
The team rolled into two more fleet races, the conditions in Naples remained inconsistent fluctuating from 7 to 12 knots and big shifts in the wind direction. The team had a good start on race one, but a gybe at the first bottom gate saw several boats roll past them forcing the team to end up deep in the fleet stuck fighting for clean air. The crew stayed focused and kept fighting hard, it paid off and they secured fourth place and eight valuable points.
The second fleet race was the best start the team has had since the first day of racing, they rounded the first gate in second close behind Luna Rossa Swordfish with Emirates Team New Zealand chasing in third. The battle for the top three spots was hard fought, the lead constantly changing hands as the crews pushed each other to the limits. It was a consistent performance by the crew onboard Emirates Team New Zealand that saw them take their second win of the day, with Luna Rossa Swordfish stealing second from J.P.Morgan BAR after they received a penalty for sailing past the boundary line on the first downwind leg. But the team did enough to stay third overall.
Skipper Ben Ainslie reflected on the team’s performance, “It was a tough day today, we lost the match racing semi-final which was pretty frustrating. During the fleet races things didn’t really seem to fall into place today for whatever reason, which was again frustrating for us. But the guys hung in there we are just eight points from the leader and still in a good position for the overall victory at this event in the final fleet race. We will regroup, we’ll dig deep and try and have a good one tomorrow”.
Tomorrow’s Super Sunday final fleet race will start at 1515 CET, bumper points are on offer with 40 points for first place. For J.P.Morgan BAR it will come down to the wire, they have to win the final fleet race in order to take the event title here in Naples. The battle for second for the overall series title will be won or lost on tomorrow’s race.