by Richard Crockett
Hasso Plattner and his ‘Phoenix 11’ crew took the first race yesterday in fine style, but were tripped up in the second race, handing the overall lead to ‘Azzurra’.
A pedestal winch gearing breakdown between races unsettled the local team who suffered a breakage of their aftermost port side stanchion to further compound their problems. And on the race course they appeared to out of phase on the first beat, having to duck transoms or tack away to avoid other boats.
‘Sled’, which was involved in a collision with training partners ‘Alegre’ during the first race of the day, still lies third having been granted average points by redress as they were fouled by ‘Alegre’. However damage to their boat appears to have ruled them out of the rest of this regatta.
A highlight of the first race, for some, was witnessing ‘Platoon’ cop 3 different penalties for rule infringements from the on water judges. In flat water and with boat speeds so similar, racing was tight and close, with eight incidents that resulted in seven penalty flags.
‘Platoon’ were in contention at the top mark challenging ‘Phoenix 11′, but the world champions were given the first of three penalties – the first of which the umpires conceded later was a rare mistake!
What has been very noticeable in the four races so far is how important the starts are, with the second race proving that point very clearly when the after guard launched Bronenosec off the line to earn an early advantage, and one they did not relinquish.
Aboard ‘Phoenix 11′ Information is passed between breeze-spotting floater Andy Horton, tactician Peter Holmberg, and South Africans Paul Willcox on main trim and local powerhouse grinder Shaun Pammenter, who has also played rugby in England for the Cornish Pirates, and who is a respected navigator and meteorologist in his own right.
Horton commented: “We had a little breakdown before the start and so we were working on that. We did a good job, but did not quite get it fixed, but it put us out of our routine. Then we were on the back foot and so were not as settled as in other races. I think some of the other teams were really starting to race properly for the first time this season. We felt comfortable ’til then and then kept breaking things.”
“We have such a good group of people. We have such good locals who we trust implicitly, they are awesome sailors in their own right. I am more in charge of the wind; and I talk to them; they talk to Peter – the whole plan emerges. But the racing has been really testing with quick decisions and the same today. It is a pleasure to work with Peter.” He adds, “But it does feel like the first regatta of the season, six turns in the first race, everyone is maybe not fresh and perfect on the start line. At the end of the season it is such a well oiled machine for everyone, but right now this does feel very much like the first regatta of the year.”
Azzurra’s Guillermo Parada is pleased with their consistency but knows anything can happen and they need to keep their focus. “We know this is only the beginning and this is a long, long season. We are pleased. We said before the start of the season that we won the championship with a 4.3 average on the scores, so we need to play safe, to stay out of trouble, and so far we have achieved that. But we know it is not easy and that sooner or later you will be forced to take some risks, hopefully we will make the right choices at that time.”