For two of the 2017 season’s top 52 SUPER SERIES teams the familiar waters of Porto Cervo, Sardinia have been something of an emotional rollercoaster.
The oft heard cliché that so competitive is the 52 SUPER SERIES fleet right now that one day you are in the penthouse, seemingly unstoppable, then, severely punished for the smallest of mistakes, you are languishing on the pavement. On Day 1 of the Porto Cervo 52 SUPER SERIES Audi Sailing Week the defending 2016 champions Quantum Racing finished rock bottom of the leaderboard, counting maximum points, 12, after a finishing line infringement.
Today, in perfect conditions it was the turn of the world champions Platoon to have an unfortunate taste of life down in the nether regions of the fleet. Harm Müller-Spreer’s crew were over the start line on the first race today and finished last. Indeed the German flagged crew already have an aggregate of 22pts from three races, the same tally they won last month’s World Championships over eight races in Scarlino.
On the up, Quantum Racing bounced back today in the style they have become known for. More often than not when they suffer a rare bad day then they are at their most accomplished in the races that follow. Today was no exception. The Terry Hutchinson, Doug DeVos, Ian Moore, Bora Gulari afterguard nailed a perfect pin end start. With space to leeward to drive into and accelerate.
Quantum Racing hit the line at maximum speed on the ‘b’ of ‘bang’ and were untouchable thereafter, leading Race 2 by over 150 metres from the French team on Paprec which has Laser World Champion Jean Baptiste Bernaz calling tactics and 2012 Finn bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert trimming. Paprec’s second place backs up their race win in the last regatta they sailed at, Key West in January. Tony Langley’s Gladiator took third.
Both Provezza and Platoon were over the start line early. Tony Rey engineered a significant comeback as tactician at the back of the Platoon, in concert with helmsman Peter Holmberg and the hard working team to recover to a useful fourth.
The breeze for the second race was around 11kts on the start line, still out of the ESE. As if to replicate the Quantum Racing start of the preceding race, Azzurra came off the line like a bullet at the pin end. Quantum Racing were as strong in the first seconds off the windward end of the line.
The left paid once again and Azzurra lead at WW1 from Rán Racing with Quantum Racing in third. At the leeward gate Rán Racing managed to have the inside berth forcing Azzurra wide in second. By the top mark Niklas Zennström’s Rán team were ahead. Sensing the breeze was maximum right Vasco.
Vascotto called an early gybe on Azzurra and paid a price as the breeze went back to the left. From second Azzurra dropped to fifth. In contrast the right of the run paid nicely for Bronenosec which battled up to second place.
Quantum Racing are best scoring boat of the day with their 1,3 moving them to sixth overall. Doug DeVos owner-driver commented of their comeback today:
“These guys are all really really good and you put a mistake behind you and you just focus on what’s ahead. That’s what they did. And so we just keep chipping away every day, every tack every gybe every part of the race and that’s what we do. I am just hand onto the tiller and try to stick with them”
Of the pressure onboard he said: “It was intense… I mean the racing was really close. First race we got a bit of a lead that was ok, but then the second race was so close, the positions change and you think you’re ok and then you’re not ok because a little wind shift can make a big difference, or even a puff of wind. Thats why you do this though because it’s so nerve racking but thrilling at the same time. I was kind of thinking that to myself in one of those situations when my heart’s racing and I’m thinking ‘Why am I doing this?’ But that’s why I’m doing it. Because I love it!”
Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing lead the regatta on 11pts with Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec second on 14pts with three boats – Sled, Alegre, Provezza – all tied on 15pts. For Liubomirov’s team who were ninth of ten at the World Championship the return to Porto Cervo and a change in the afterguard seems to be working. Contrast the fortunes of the circuit leaders Platoon, second in Key West, second in Miami and winners in Scarlino, who lie ninth.
Tomasso Chieffi, strategist on Bronenosec said:
“We’ve enjoyed all the week so far. We’ve got a good feeling with the crew with Vladimir and myself with Morgan. I realised we raced together many many years ago on the Sayonara. So the atmosphere is very good and we’re feeling the benefit today. It’s not been easy for me either these first few days because it’s not like it traditionally is in Porto Cevo with the south easterly and this heat wave of course is changing a lot, so very often if you go with what you about this place it’s normally wrong.”
Chieffi adds, “We are racing more offshore, so there is a lot of a convergence with the shore and actually you get more into the gradient breeze which is probably stronger offshore. There is a bit of a right hand phase near the top mark, but she’s not always. But this thing can change like in the long race yesterday it went from being pressure offshore to being pressure inshore and there are not really any clues telling you whats going to happen. So you have to play the numbers and look and look and even when you look a hundred times you still make the wrong decision”
Porto Cervo 52 SUPER SERIES Audi Sailing Week
Standings after three races
1. Rán Racing (Niklas and Catherine Zennström, SWE) (3,7,1) 11 points
2. Bronenosec (Vladimir Liubomirov, RUS) (6,6,2) 14 points
3. Sled (Takashi Okura, USA) (1,4,9) 15 points
4. Alegre (Andy Soriano, GBR/USA) (5,RDG5,5) 15 points
5. Provezza (Ergin Imre, TUR) (4,4,7) 15 points
6. Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, USA) (RET12,1,3) 16 points
7. Gladiator (Tony Langley, GBR) (8,3,6) 17 points
8. Azzurra (Familia Roemmers, ITA/ARG) (5,8,5) 18 points
9. Platoon (Harm Müller-Spreer, GER) (7,11,4) 22 points
10. Paprec Recyclage (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, FRA) (10,2,11) 23 points
11. Sorcha (Peter Harrison, GBR) (9,10,10) 29 points