Good Breeze And A Solid Azzurra Day.
Azzurra’s Two Bullets Put Them In Title Contention.
Racing in more breeze than the first two days of Gaastra PalmaVela, Azzurra found good speed from their brand new boat which allowed them to sail the way they wanted to and win both of today’s races on the Bay of Palma ahead of Austin and Gwen Fragomen‘s Interlodge which took two second places. Uprange it was not quite such a strong day for Quantum Racing. They posted two third places today but still narrowly hold on to their regatta lead, tied on countback with the Azzurra team which sails for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, but topping the table by virtue of their three wins from six starts.
After two days of light, streaky breezes the valuable pre 52 SUPER SERIES testing was blessed with a different range of wind conditions, topping 21kts in the first windward leeward and averaging close to 14-16kts in the second, from around 180-190 degs. Azzurra found the best set up for the brisker conditions and were able to come off the windward side of the pack of four TP52s and get into a controlling position on the preferred left side of the track early in the race. Their only visible error was a problem with the tack of their gennaker on the first hoist but they were able to recover their lead, rounding the leeward gate with a small lead ahead of the Dean Barker steered Interlodge. Second race strategies were much the same for Azzurra, start to windward in clear air and let the boatspeed do the work, and again the Guillermo Parada skippered crew were able to lead by the first top mark. Their winning margin in the first race was 59 seconds and quite a bit more in the second race of the day. Alegre finished fourth, just three seconds behind Quantum in the first race.
Azzurra‘s skipper-helm Guillermo Parada said: “At this stage it is more important to be coming in with ideas than to be winning. You are setting a good base for winning as much as possible through the season, and so that is more important. But winning is always good. And of course that is the first win for the boat. For sure we would not have felt so good to go home at the end of the regatta not having won a race but it seems that with a little more breeze we are doing OK. We need to get a little better in the lighter stuff and we will be OK.”
Naturally, just as it was for Quantum Racing yesterday, two wins on the trot, is an important boost for the Azzurra team today as well as adding to the validation that they are finding the right set up for the different conditions. But the learning under full race conditions is a great opportunity, one which all four TP52’s are using to best effect. John Kostekci, tactician of Alegre, came ashore with a smile on his face, pleased to be putting so much valued, new knowledge into their programme prior to Valencia.
They are visibly improving race by race. Alegre may have a clutch of fourth places in the recent races but there is no doubt that if their learning here were to be the passport to a similar scoreline in a 12 boat fleet in Valencia three weeks tomorrow, the smiles on the faces of Kostecki and owner-driver Andy Soriano would be all the wider.
Going into the final day of Gaastra Palma Vela Azzurra and Quantum Racing are tied on nine points, Interlodge are just one point behind them in third.
Guillermo Parada (ARG), skipper-helm Azzurra: “Small details are making the difference in the racing today. The important thing today is that the boat was fast and we are confident with the boatspeed. We are still trying and putting in practice some ideas. Some of them are starting to work and some we are thinking about, rig set up, the sail package, lots of stuff. We are still learning but learning and winning at the same time is always good. A couple of days ago we were not that bad, today we are not that great. It is a continuous process but we are happy that we came back to the dock with more ideas to go forwards with. At this stage it is more important to be coming in with ideas than to be winning. You are setting a good base for winning as much as possible through the season, and so that is more important. But winning is always good. And of course that is the first win for the boat. For sure we would not have felt so good to go home at the end of the regatta not having won a race but it seems that with a little more breeze we are doing OK. We need to get a little better in the lighter stuff and we will be OK. The reality is that we started to weather of the pack and twice we were able to hold them out to the left layline, based on our good boat speeds. We had two tidy starts, we were on the line and with speed and then with the good speed we could hold all the way to the layline on the left, we could choose when to tack and then do our own race. In the first race we hada problem with the tack of the spinnaker which opened on the hoist, we lost the lead to Interlodge but we were able to hold them and then roll them down the run. That was good, we felt upwind and downwind.”
John Kostecki (USA), tactician Alegre (GBR): “It was nice to finally have some wind. We had up to 20kts. It was a nice day but we are new to this class and with a brand new boat. This was our first day in the breeze. And it was a long day working on testing the boat, but the boat is going really well. We need to work on a lot of little things. On the speed side we need to be working on changing gears. Some of these teams have been at it for a long time. So every once in a while we miss out on little things. But we are getting better each day and I can’t believe there are not more 52’s doing this regatta. I am disappointed there are not more boats here, but that must be to the advantage of the four boats which are here. If not a huge advantage, I am amazed that others didn’t come here. We are happy. This is a practice. The real stuff starts in a few weeks. The boats have evolved so much. They are so much more powerful and faster all the way around the track. It is good and I am enjoying it.”
Andy Horton (USA) tactician Interlodge: “We were a little bit more consistent today which is good because we were a little bit worried that the boat has a little bit less form stability than the newer boats. We sailed really well. The new boats have a little more stability. The boat likes it lighter than today. But it seems we had it going quite well. We had two starts that we wanted and we were pretty quick with Azzurra, they won the windward side, we won the leeward side and that was it. We pitched off the boats above us that they footed over the others. We got what we wanted. We should be paying a price downwind in the breeze but we were OK downwind . We were a little sticky downwind in the light the last couple of days but we felt realy comfortable.It is tweaking and getting used to the light. We working on our spinnakers a little before Valencia. Historically we have had fuller spinnakers and we are flattening that out. We have done two steps, the first was a bit improvement. The A2 is pretty good and weight placement and being more active in how we move.”
Standings after six races, one discard:
1, QUANTUM RACING DALTON DEVOS (4),1,1,1,3,3 = 9pts
2, AZZURA ALBERTO ROEMMERS 2,(4),3,2,1,1 = 9pts
3, INTERLODGE DEAN BARKER 1,(3),2,3,2,2 = 10pts
4, ALEGRE ANDRES SORIANO 3,2,(4),4,4,4 = 17pts