Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rán Still in Race for Handicap - Rolex Middle Sea Race

While Rán was the second boat over the line this morning they behind Esimit Europa 2 they will have to sweat it out until tomorrow to find out how they have fared in the overall handicap results. Several boats who are still racing pose a threat.
Rán Photo By: Rolex / Rene Rossignaud
“We wanted to do well, so we made sure we planned as much as we could. We studied the different weather models that were available to us, and really tried to understand the racecourse as well as possible. I think we handled it well. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes which is what it’s all about in this kind of race. Though it was pretty light conditions; you didn’t have the tough conditions where you really have to handle the boat. It’s a fun race because there are always different corners to go around, different islands and it’s very tactical, ” said Niklas Zennstrom, Rán's owner/helmsman.
Rán Photo: Rolex/Rene Rossignaud
Rán’s tactician Adrian Stead agreed adding it was a pretty challenging race that was alive the entireway around the course.

"For us, we sailed a very good race, we sailed a tactical and a fairly risk-free race. We controlled everything we could and now it’s down to whether it turns out to be a mini-maxi race or a small boat race. But once again, a great racecourse, you can’t beat it," Stead said.
Rán Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
“Even at the start, one of our biggest gains on Alegre was out of the harbour and (during) the first two legs. We recognized it was quite squirrelly at the time. The breeze was shifting around and everyone was thinking of a relatively light-ish start. As we went down to the turning mark off St Julian’s, the breeze felt well in the right, so we elected to gybe-set and took off doing 15-18 knots and that gave us a really good jump on Alegre. There were enough shifts in the first two hours and we probably put two to three miles on them, which was really good, in terms of laying down your marker. The opportunities were there to do it,” Stead added.
Adrian Stead, Tactician Rán Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
Rán maximised their opportunities during the passage through Messina, known as the make or break turning point of the course.

“Off Catania we knew we wanted to be in the middle of the bottom of the Strait, and if we could get to the right-hand side, we would. We were conscious when we went in there that Esimit was going to go through with favourable current, and that we were probably going to plug it. We got most of the way down the eastern side in the back eddy and had just three knots against us when we crossed the entrance and enough breeze to do it. So we managed to escape in reasonable shape whereas a lot of the boats behind us came through on the next tide," he said.
Rán Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
“We were relieved to have gotten through Messina in the shape we did. And going through there with a three-hour, 30-mile lead on our arch rival was pretty satisfying. But they sailed well, coming back into us in the light (wind), but there really weren’t very many ways around us."

The weather conditions continued to confound even the race leaders right until to the end, a reminder of what may lie ahead for the rest of the fleet still at sea.

“The last 50 miles to the finish were incredibly tricky. Originally we were pointing straight at Malta, then we were slowly headed and effectively faced with a 30-mile beat to the Comino Channel. Coming in here a midday the breeze started to get very fickle off the shore with very big shifts. The last nine miles saw 40 degree shifts and breeze as light as five knots to as much as 11 knots. You had to keep your wits about you the whole way,” Stead said.
Alegre Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
At 17.16 this evening, Alegre crossed the finish line. Twelve nautical miles behind them, Med Sprit was approaching the South Comino Channel. Between Gozo and Lampedusa there are a half dozen yachts close reaching in a light 5-10 knot easterly. Further up the track between Lampedusa and Pantelleria, the majority of the fleet (approximately 40 yachts) are beating into a headwind and hope to finish on Wednesday.

Lulu Roseman

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