52 SUPER SERIES. A Tight Fit at the Top

pic by Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio

by Richard Crockett

Day 3 was not a spectacular day for the two South African boats although ‘Phoenix 11′ and Hasso Plattner improved her performance of the day, starting with an 11 and finishing with a 6 and 5. Unfortunately ‘Phoenix 12′ and Tina Plattner were unable to improve their positions with 7, 8 and 9th place finishes in the three races.

After missing Day 2’s scheduled races due to the lack of breeze, the third day was a gift with the bright spring sunshine and 10-15 knots of breeze. But with the race area located to the east of the entrance to Mahón’s expansive natural harbour – one of the world’s biggest – the topography upwind created a natural deflection in the wind, creating a one-sided course that placed a gilt-edged premium on starting perfectly and getting to the right as smartly as possible.

pic by Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio

Regatta leaders ‘Azzurra’ had made a dream start to their season. A second and a win on the first day was smartly followed by another victory in the first of yesterday’s three races. A textbook start on the signal boat end of the line, a swift tack to the right and the team from the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda led all the way around the course, extending their lead to eight points at the top of the 11-boat fleet.

But, as is nearly always the case, when there is such pressure on one side of the course and off the line, it is close to impossible to repeat the same plan time and again. ‘Azzurra’ were held up by ‘Sled’ at the start of the next race and their strategy was compromised. ‘Provezza’ got away to lead while ‘Azzurra’ rounded fifth dropping places on each subsequent leg to finish seventh. A mainsheet winch problem just before the start of Race 5, the third contest of the day, left ‘Azzurra’ flat footed and nearly last off the line. The dream, 2,1,1, was rudely awoken to a harsh 17 points reality, just as perennial rivals ‘Quantum Racing’ hit their straps for a glamour 4,2,1 yesterday.

pic by Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio

Guillermo Parada, the ‘Azzurra’ skipper-helm grimaced: “It is the third day of racing, we are almost tied on points and it is like starting all over again! But tomorrow we will be back fighting. That is our style. If we thought we were going to have a comfortable week… no way?”

Quantum Racing started well in each race, but lost places again in the first heat of the day, leaving ‘Alegre’ and ‘Provezza’ to gybe away to the left of the run and gain in better wind pressure. But thereafter the new team line up were firing on all cylinders, extending on the third race to be almost 300 metres ahead on the one sided, follow my leader course.

‘Provezza’, Ergin Imre’s Turkish-flagged team show considerable podium potential, their 12 points for the day’s diet of three races, sees them tied on points with ‘Azzurra’, also just one point behind the regatta leaders. The new afterguard on ‘Provezza’, John Cutler steering with Kiwi compatriot Hamish Pepper, appear to have gelled with unflappable navigator Nacho Postigo and their Judel/Vrolijk design – which was updated through the winter – is proving quick enough.

Cameron Appleton, tactician on ‘Quantum Racing’ commented: “We made it hard on ourselves on the first race, but after that it went well. There is a big geographical shift and the right was strong. We fought hard and we had really good strategy all day. Ed was able to execute really well and the rest was the guys just really working really hard and sailing the boat really well. The starts are a tricky part of the race especially when there is really only one place to start and Ed (Baird) did a good job in races two and three.”

Regatta standings after Day 3
1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (8,5,4,2,1) 20 p.
2. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto/Pablo Roemmers) (2,1,1,7,10) 21 p.
3. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (6,3,3,1,8) 21 p.
4. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (5,2,6,3,7) 23 p.
5. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) (1,7,8,10,2) 28 p.
6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (4,11,2,5,6) 28 p.
7. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Hasso Plattner) (3,10,11,6,5) 35 p.
8. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (9,8,5,9,4) 35 p.
9. Phoenix 12 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) (7,4,7,8,9) 35 p.
10. Team Vision Future (FRA) (Jean Jacques Chaubard) (10,6,9,4,11) 40 p.
11. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (11,9,10,11,3) 44 p.

pic by Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio