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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wind Set To Whip Up A Frenzy For Start of 52 Super Series World Championship - Menorca

Quantum Racing laid down their marker in Menorca for the 52 World Championship when they won today’s official practice race, leading from the first windward mark to the finish line of a testing windward-leeward track contested in light, shifty, streaky airs. But with Bronenosec just behind them at the finish line, taking a close second and, earlier, the French team on Paprec chivvying them around the first windward turn it is clear that the team that leads this season’s 52 Super Series will not have it all their own way over the next five days.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
If forecasts hold out as expected, then Wednesday – the first racing day – promises a sparkling start to this much anticipated World Championship with winds over 20 knots predicted on what is expected to be a bumpy, lumpy relatively exposed race arena. If that proves the case then today’s relatively sedate practise test will be a real contrast. It was a test of reading the subtle changes in the gentle breeze, abilities to change gear and keep the boat moving across the streaky, stripy breeze.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Quantum Racing were ahead from midway up the first beat. The most impressive team, other than the circuit leaders, were Bronenosec and they could well prove the dark horse here. Vladimir Liubomirov’s team have proven to be one of the fastest on the water, finishing second overall at Puerto Portals Sailing Week – albeit tied with Azzurra – and today they were the crew which proved most adept at doing what Quantum Racing do best: chipping away, passing boats to earn good, solid finishes.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Liubomirov’s team have two past Quantum lieutenants in key decision making roles – former navigator Michele Ivaldi is tactician and project manager and Ado Stead strategist. Stead is the only sailor in the field to have won the TP52 World Championship title as tactician with two different boats, twice with Quantum Racing, in 2010 and 2011, and with with Rán Racing in 2013.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Phoenix, with skipper Paul Cayard steering and Peter Holmberg calling tactics, showed well in the early stages of their first “official” outing on the 52 Super Series circuit but faded as the practice heat unfolded.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“It is all a bit steep for us. Our goal was really to join the circuit next year but here we are and we are happy to be here. These guys are fast. I don’t think we are quite up to speed yet. But we have our system set up. We are debriefing every night. We have Steve Calder (North Sails designer) so we are looking to absorb a lot. I’d say a mid-fleet finish would be good for us. That is my expectation but we will see how it goes,” Cayard said on the dock in Port Mahón.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Defending world champions are Azzurra. They won convincingly last year in Puerto Portals where they sailed faster and smarter than the rest of the fleet. This season the fleet have caught up on the team which represents the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, but small changes to their boat and rig set up finds the team in a bullish mood.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“We have a couple of new sails, we have modified our mainsail and made some more changes to the set up of the boat and so we are confident that our speed will be a step ahead of where we were,” Skipper-helm Guillermo Parada said.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“Hopefully we can pull together a good week in terms of the whole package, the start, the speed, tactics, manoeuvres, all the things you need to put together to have a good regatta. Having the world championships here in the middle of the season is a great opportunity. Here we start from scratch with two opportunities. We are here to win the world championships and to see that Quantum Racing does not win the whole season,” he added.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Hosting the 52 World Championship, one of the TP52 Class pinnacle events, represents a significant investment for Mahón and the island of Menorca, seeking to put the beautiful and unique Balearic island on the map as a high class venue for future international sailing events. As it is, the local economical impact of a 52 Super Series regatta is estimated to be over two million euros, as was highlighted at today’s press conference.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
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