IRC52s Dominate Day 1 Copa del Rey
Twin racers Hugues and Sebastien Destremau launched Paprec to victory in the opening day of the IRC 1 competition at the Copa del Rey in Palma, Mallorca on Monday, claiming the team’s first race win in this their second tilt for glory in themost important regatta in the Mediterranean.
Thirteen teams and eight 52s lined up to compete in the IRC 1 division, but it was the 52s that dominated the podium places, with the French team leading on five points followed by Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One, six, and Gladiator, 6.5.
Paprec Recylage tactician Sebastien said there were several distinct changes that had the team on target to improve on their debut Copa del Rey result of seventh in 2011.
“The boat is much faster than last year, we took some weight off the boat and have a deeper keel, plus we have some new sails and instead of me at the helm it’s my brother, he’s a much better skipper than me,’’ he said.
“Last year we couldn’t compete with the other boats; downwind we were slower, upwind we were lower. Until now we’ve never sailed in medium wind with the modifications we made in winter so we’re pleasantly surprised with the pace.”
Aiding Audi All4One’s second overall was Olympic and America’s Cup champion Jordi Calafat, who used his local knowledge to navigate the team to a respectable second and third across the line in the two races.
The Palma born sailing champion played the local embat breeze to perfection, skipper Jochen Schümann said, and continued the team’s competitive form just days after finishing third in the Royal Cup.
“There were so may changes in the lead out there, and there were a lot of opportunities for people to pass you on both sides,’’ he said.
“Having Jordi was great for two reasons, he knows this place so he could read the difficult shifts and we’ve raced together for so long, we have the same style of sailing and we have a good understanding of each other.”
Third overall Gladiator finished first and fourth in a welcome return to form for the team who struggled in the Royal Cup last week, when they were forced to retire from two races following a collision and a third when gale force winds proved too much.
Pitman Guy Barron said scoring a win in the opening race was the perfect way to shake the disappointment of the Royal Cup, and improve on the team’s sixth place in last year’s Copa del Rey.
“It’s very good competition here and going into the race we always thought we could do well, and it was nice to cement that in the first race,’’ he said. “It’s great to get off to a good start.
“We’ve just put together a better team than last year, (skipper) Tony (Langley) has spent more time in the boat and it’s been great to have the 52 Super Series Royal Cup before hand to help improve our performance.”
It was a much tougher day for Turkish team Provezza, who just minutes before the start signal sounded were forced to dispatch a crewman to their chase boat after he injured his hand. The crewman was rushed to shore where an ambulance awaited to transfer him to hospital for treatment.
Audi Azzurra Sailing team are fourth, followed by PowerPlay, Emma, Bronenosec, Provezza 7, Aquila, Aifos, Imagine, Arobas and Phoenix.
Rán claimed victory in the opening race of the day for the IRC 0 division, followed by Bella Mente and Stig. The team finished second in race two behind Highland Fling, but remained overall leaders at the day’s end.
A fleet of 119 yachts, crewed by more than 1,100 sailors, is competing across seven divisions in the 31st Copa del Rey. A maximum of 12 races will be contested across the six-day regatta that concludes on Saturday July 21.