Incredibly Tight Going Into Final Day Key West

January 24, 2013

After two more great races for the 52 SUPER SERIES at Quantum Key West 2013 the top two boats Azzurra and Rán Racing still remain tied on the same points aggregate. Alberto Roemmers’ Azzurra team which flies the colours of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda still just hold the edge overall but on the strength of countback, having now won three races.

In the same type of puffy, shifty offshore breeze of 13-18kts which also produced challenging racing Wednesday, Thursday’s notable improvement in the conditions was merely that the sun shone longer and stronger. Azzurra paired an outstanding win in Race 7 with a fourth place from Race 8 that allowed the iconic team which holds the 52 SUPER SERIES title to keep Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing only just in check going into Friday’s final two scheduled races.

In turn the Zennström crew kept the pressure on Azzurra with their second place in the first race and then they got the better of the champions in a straight head to head match race up the final beat for third and fourth in Race 8.

For the Azzurra team everything clicked perfectly in that first race, better than at any stage yet this season – according to tactician Vasco Vascotto – and they were able to work the shifts and the gusty breeze to maximum advantage. At one point they were over 200 metres ahead of the second placed Rán Racing, in part attributable to a great first run when they turned a 40 metre lead at the first top mark to at least 120 metres by the downwind turn. Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing held themselves in the hunt for the overall title with third in this race but they still went into Race 8 with a four points deficit on Azzurra.

Quantum Racing knew they needed a high calibre result to give themselves a chance of still being title contenders Friday. That they started well from close to the pin end of the start line and lead at the first windward mark seemed to have set them up for their third win of the series. But Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Interlodge sailed a great first beat to round second and were then able to pass Quantum on the second run. But Andy Horton and Ed Baird read the extra pressure and left shift best on the final beat and were able to get out there, Quamtum Racing easing past Interlodge. This last upwind saw some of the most exciting upwind racing so far, with Quantum Racing containing Interlodge by a boat length in their duel and Rán Racing going toe to toe in an exciting battle against Azzurra.

Vasco Vascotto (ITA), Azzurra’s tactician arrived ashore still looking for improvements from himself and the team:

 The good thing is we are still leading overall but the bad thing is that we are still losing opportunities every day.”

Going in to the final pair of races of this first regatta of the 2013 52 SUPER SERIES season, only one point separates the top three teams. Azzurra and Rán Racing share 21 points with Quantum Racing on 22 points.

52 SUPER SERIES at Quantum Key West 2013 Results
Race 7: 1 Azzurra (ITA), 2 Rán Racing (SWE), 3 Quantum Racing (USA), 4 Gladiator (GBR), 5 Interlodge (USA), 6 Rio (USA).
Race 8: 1 Quantum Racing, 2 Interlodge, 3 Rán Racing, 4 Azzurra, 5 Gladiator, 6Rio.

Overall after 8 races: 1 Azzurra 21pts, 2 Rán Racing 21pts, 3 Quantum Racing 22pts, 4 Interlodge 26pts, 5 Gladiator 33pts, 6 Rio 39 pts.

Vasco Vascotto (ITA) tactician Azzurra“The good thing is we are still leading overall but the bad thing is that we are still losing opportunities every day. In the second race we did a good job to come back but we felt Interlodge played a bit more against us than the others, we were controlling Rán Racing to try and hold them into the final day, but Interlodge made a couple of tacks on our bow which I did not really expect. So suddenly we lost our place. Now I am aware that can happen in the future, so wake up Vasco!

The first race was great we stayed in phase all the way through. It was good, the star, the crew work. It was the first race here that we sailed at the best we can do together. We are very happy with that. Tomorrow is still a northerly breeze, shifty, start well and sail properly – really sailing like we did today but just tack on Rán if we get the chance.”

Niklas Zennström (SWE), owner-helm Rán Racing (SWE): “I think we sailed much better today than we did yesterday. We had a big debrief last night. We made some mistakes yesterday and today I think we sailed better. The second race at the first bottom mark we picked the wrong mark, but we came back and it was OK.
The conditions were better than yesterday there was more breeze and it was quite unstable making it quite difficult upwind, but we were quite OK downwind. Downwind we were always comfortable but upwind we struggled. And today we sailed the boat much more consistently. We tried to improve on these today. Out boat is a little more narrow which does not give us as much stability.”

Andy Horton (USA) strategist Quantum Racing (USA): “We had a good start in the second race which made a difference, we hit a couple of shifts, there was less current on the left side and made some gains there. Then we got to the top mark and with the race course under the Key, there are puffs which come down and get in the right place on the run. We were forced into a position where we were not quite where we wanted to be on the downwind. We got sucked into the group and got passed by Interlodge and then got passed by another boat at the gate. Then we had a good second beat, we got back into second place, at the bottom second time we were tied for first and then an awesome final beat and pulled it out by a boatlength against Interlodge. Rán and Azzurra were having a nice battle too and so we end up right in there for the final day. You’d like to go out and win twice tomorrow. We need to make sure we are fast and we minimise mistakes and really just keep on with what we are doing.”