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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel Wins Race 1 of NSW Championships In Dramatic Style

18ft Skiffs: NSW Championship - Race 1
Sunday, 30 October, 2016 - Sydney Harbour
Photo: Frank Quealey
Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel won a dramatic Race 1 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour today after a brilliant performance by her crew in the fresh nor'east conditions.
Photo: Frank Quealey
The win was completely unusual as the skiff used a borrowed mainsail from the Appliancesonline.com.au skiff and two of the appliances crew sailed on The Rag. Tom Clout skippered the winner with Mark Kennedy and Tom Anderson in the team. Clout and Anderson are usually the crew with David Witt on Appliancesonline.
Photo: Frank Quealey
Compassmarkets.com (Keagan York, Matt Stenta and Angus Williams) finished in second place, 44s behind the winner, with Noakesailing (Ash Rooklyn, Ben Robinson and Rhys Mara) a further 1m51s back in third place.
Photo: Frank Quealey
The brand new Line 7 skiff, skippered by Jonathan Whitty, was christened only minutes before the race and did remarkably well to come home in fourth place. Asko Appliances (Marcus Ashley-Jones) finished fifth, ahead of De’Longhi (Simon Nearn), Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) and Smeg (Lee Knapton).
Photo: Frank Quealey
The leaders took a variety of courses on the first windward beat from Clark Island to the Beashel Buoy and little separated the leaders all the way up the course. Asko Appliances won out to lead narrowly from Coopers 62-Rag & Famish, followed by Smeg, Yandoo (John Winning), Line 7, defending champion Thurlow Fisher Lawyers (Michael Coxon) and De’Longhi.
Asko Photo: Frank Quealey
Smeg had a little trouble setting the extra and it allowed Asko and The Rag to edge away slightly on the run into the wing mark in Rose Bay. Asko Appliances retained the lead at the Rose Bay mark but this was reversed when Coopers-Rag grabbed the lead at the bottom mark off Clark Island.
Photo: Frank Quealey
The two leaders held their positions on the following windward leg back to Beashel Buoy, though Thurlow Fisher Lawyers was starting to make a move and was close up in third place. Keagan York’s Compassmarkets.com had come from well back in the early stages of the race and was putting pressure on the leading group.
Photo: Frank Quealey
A few capsizes and some gear breakage had also quickly reduced the fleet numbers. The second spinnaker run from the Beashel Buoy gave spectators on the club’s ferry a great view of some fantastic action and speed sailing as the crews drove their skiffs hard.
Photo: Frank Quealey
The Rag’s crew held their lead while many others behind them capsized on the approach to the Clark Island mark. Over the final lap of the course, the wind was strong and the racing tight as Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel was under enormous pressure from Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.
Photo: Frank Quealey
The Rag set her spinnaker for home 20s ahead of Thurlow Fisher and the race was on to the Rose Bay mark. It seemed as though there may have been a little more north in the wind direction as the two leaders battled their spinnakers on the run between the islands to the finish line.
Photo: Frank Quealey
The Rag’s crew were first to drop and it seemed as though Thurlow Fisher was going to grab a last minute win when her crew elected to hold onto their spinnaker for the tight run to the finish. Thurlow’s crew looked reasonably comfortable in the tough conditions but could do nothing about saving their chances when the boat nose-dived just 300 metres from the finish line.
Frank Quealey 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Peroni Wins Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy

18ft Skiffs: Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy
Sunday, 23 October, 2016 - Sydney Harbour
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Strong Southerly winds, gusting to more than 30-knots, made 18ft Skiff officials think long and hard before making a decision on whether to conduct the Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy race on Sydney Harbour today.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Following the abandonment of last Sunday’s race, officials were keen for a start, and strict instructions were issued to avoid the skiffs being forced to wait around too long on the harbour prior to the race start.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
The logistical problem to set three windward marks (for the scheduled 3-Buoys race) saw race officials decide on a format change. Only one windward mark was set, and handicaps, to determine the trophy winner, would be adjusted at the club after the race.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
A few of the newer teams decided that discretion was required and decided not to sail, while a couple of other teams were forced out with some gear problems during rigging. John Winning and his team were the first to leave the rigging area but a gear breakage forced them back before the scheduled start.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Finally, with only two boats making it to the start line, the race got under way when Nick Daly’s Peroni crossed the line in Athol Bay, west of Bradleys Head. The only other boat to make the start within the time limit was Pedro Vozone’s Haier Appliances, which started a few minutes behind Peroni.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
When the wind eased back a few knots, Peroni’s team of Nick Daly, John Walton and Tom Clout had little trouble handling the conditions and gave spectators a close look at speed sailing under their big white kite.
Photo: Frank Quealey/18 Foot Skiff League
Although Haier was unable to make up the time lost at the start, Pedro Vozone, Tim Westwood and Lorenzo Cerretelli managed to complete the course, which had been shortened by the race committee.
Frank Quealey

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Quantum Racing Crowned 2016 Champions While Azzurra Wins 52 Super Series Cascais Cup

Winners of four of the five regattas this season, Quantum Racing were crowned the 2016 52 Super Series champions in Cascais, Portugal tonight.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
The American-flagged team secured their third 52 Super Series title on Thursday with two days to spare, finishing Saturday with an overall aggregate of 140 points after 45 races contested in Scarlino (Tuscany), Porto Cervo (Sardinia), Puerto Portals (Mallorca), Mahón (Menorca) and Cascais (Portugal).
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
But last year’s champions Azzurra denied Quantum Racing their coveted clean sweep of all five titles. When they won the final race of the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup in 11-14 knots of southerly breezes, Azzurra won the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup and finish second overall for the season, 59 points behind Quantum Racing.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing Team take third step on the season’s podium after a nervous final day showdown against Ergin Imre’s Provezza and Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon. Rán Racing fought back spectacularly from a penalty at the final mark that dumped them into last place, but quickly rallied to a critical fifth place, which ensured they take third for the season.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Just as last year’s battle for third overall was decided on the last race of the season, so it was again on the same waters in Portugal. Rán finish on 241 points, Platoon on 245 points, Provezza on 248 points and Bronenosec on 251points.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
On Friday, Provezza had earned a tentative grip of third place but a bitterly disappointing run of 9,9,9 from their last three races saw them crumple to fifth overall on the season’s standings, losing out to Platoon who had brought in John Kostecki as tactician for their final push.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Quantum Racing have set an exceptional level from the start of the season. They served notice of their intentions when they won the pre-season warm up regatta Gaastra Palma Vela. Four different teams led at the opening regatta in Scarlino, Tuscany but it was Quantum Racing who prevailed. Doug DeVos’s team won the 52 World Championship title in Mahón, Menorca in September also.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Between last season and this season, Quantum Racing had won six regattas on the hop. But the resurgent Azzurra team were back to their imperious best in Cascais where they won four of the eight races and held the overall title winners to second, eight points behind.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
There has been no dark magic nor no reliably boat speed silver bullet for the Quantum Racing crew. Their success has been down to the unrelenting daily grind, seeking perfection on and off the water by the entire team, at regattas and between events.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
It has been widely acknowledged by many members of the Quantum Racing crew – not least Terry Hutchinson – that the catalyst for this never ending pursuit was finishing second overall to Azzurra last year.
Azzurra Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Similarly when he stood on the dock in the Marina de Cascais, relieved and contented at their final day regatta win, Azzurra’s skipper Guillermo Parada in turn paid tribute to the high benchmark set by Quantum Racing that forced them to up their game. Azzurra made significant gains since mid season, July in Puerto Portals and since then won nine of the last 18 races.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“The biggest thing that we focussed on this season was never crashing down to a big number in a race. Everybody seems to focus on two boat testing, trying to be the fastest boat, but more often than not, we’re not the fastest boat out there. But we’re never the slowest boat. Trying to develop sails that are good for racing, and not just to win tuning setups has given us a lot of awareness," said Ed Reynolds, the long serving Quantum Racing boss.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
"You always hear about shifting gears on boats, well, we really focussed on our first, second and third gear. Getting off the line or when you get into trouble, when you have fine lines or really thin lanes, you have to have a completely different setup than when you’ve got the bow out, sending the boat," he added.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
"Probably the biggest thing we saw this year was that we were never slow. We weren’t always the fastest boat on the course, and a lot of the other boats were set up to win races. If you look back on our history, we don’t win many races, but we rarely get out of the top four.”

The final day of the season will remain one of the most memorable of the year. Azzurra went into the final race with a lead of three points. They sailed an impeccable first beat by beating bow to bow with Quantum Racing, and striving for the smallest advantage. At the top mark Azzurra were just ahead of Sled while Quantum Racing slid to a sixth place finish, their worst result of the regatta.

Niklas Zennström was delighted at Rán’s third overall for the season, also lifting the top owner-driver award.

“It was a pretty stressful day. But it also shows how tight the class is this year and I think we had Provezza, Platoon and Bronenosec. Third place overall is the most important thing for us because its also about us being able to race against the best in the world, against Azzurra and Quantum and some of the other really good pro drivers,"  said Niklas Zennström about Rán’s third overall for the season.

And so to be third overall for the season trumps being best owner driver.It was pretty tight, we got a penalty. Then you say ‘shit we’re last’ but you just have to keep fighting. It’s all about fighting til the last second.” he added, also lifting the top owner-driver award.

“We had a great season but today was a tragedy, there’s no sugar coating it. We started off the day in fourth, just a couple of points behind. Bit by bit we closed on Rán over the last two events and ended up as close as you can get. But we couldn’t get it done this afternoon," said a disappointed Tony Rey, tactician onboard Proveczza. 

"We bled points throughout the season doing different things here and there and it all came down to today and we couldn’t get it done. But that’s sport and you just have to live with it. We’ve learned an enormous amount, we joke that we’re tired of learning and we just want to go win now,” Rey added.

Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup Final Standings Standings after day 5 (8 races):

1. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (1,1,2,8,1,2,3,1) 19 pts
2. Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (4,2,3,3,5,3,1,6) 27 pts
3. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (2,6,4,2,2,8,5,2) 31 pts
4. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (5,7,7,1,6,7,2,3) 38 pts
5. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,8,1,4,4,1,7,8) 41 pts
6. Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (7,3,8,5,9,5,8,5) 50 pts
7. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,4,9,6,3,9,9,9) 52 pts
8. Alegre, GBR (Andrés Soriano USA) (10,10,5,7,10,6,6,4) 58 pts
9. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (6,5,10,9,8,10,4,7) 59 pts
10. Phoenix, USA (Richard Cohen USA) (9,9,6,10,7,4,10,10) 65 pts

2016 52 Super Series Final Overall Standings
After 5 regattas:

1.  Quantum Racing, 140 pts
2.  Azzurra, 199 pts
3.  Rán Racing, 241 pts
4.  Platoon, 245pts
5.  Provezza, 248 pts
6.  Bronenosec Gazprom, 251 pts
7.  Sled, 275 pts
8.  Alegre, 283 pts
9.  Gladiator, 342 pts

52 Super Series Media

Friday, October 14, 2016

Azzurra Continue to Harness The Quantum Beast - 52 Super Series Cascais Cup - Day 4

The chances of Azzurra halting the regatta winning run of 2016 champions Quantum Racing were given a boost today when the team from the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda sailed to a first and second place in modest breezes at the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup, beating their American rivals twice.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Azzurra now lead Quantum Racing into the final day of the last regatta of the season by five points. But their tactician Vasco Vascotto considers that their positive progress, having closed the performance gap on the circuit’s benchmark team is more exciting for him than the prospect of winning their first event of a season, which has so far been dominated by Doug DeVos’s Quantum Racing.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“It’s very nice for us to feel like all the work we’re doing is taking us in the right direction. For me, that’s the most important thing. This is an important event, and Cascais is a wonderful place, but the most important thing for us is to know that with the next season being just around the corner now we know that our benchmark that is Quantum Racing are not too far away and that we’re going in the right direction.I’m proud of what we are doing, and it looks as if everything is perfect. No, actually not perfect, just better," Vascotto said.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
The race arena for the penultimate day’s racing was moved east, slightly more towards Lisbon city, in the search for stronger pressure. The resulting race course was complex, with a reduction in wind strength towards the top mark and a right hand shift in the top third of the track. Downwind legs gave a growing advantage to the leaders who worked progressively into stronger breeze.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Vascotto proved particularly adept at reading the breeze. On the first run he held Azzurra closer to the shore and rolled down in extra, heading pressure that allowed them to sail round early leaders Sled. Quantum Racing were bounced by Phoenix early in the beat and finished fifth. Provezza’s third to Rán Racing’s ninth saw the two contenders for third overall for the season swap positions, Ergin Imre’s team getting a taste of third overall.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
The breeze remained settled and the course marks fixed for the next race. Bronenosec followed the same strategy as worked nicely for Azzurra in the previous heat. As they made their final tack for the windward mark to claim the lead they left Quantum Racing trailing in their dirty air exhaust fumes. 
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Slowed momentarily they were rolled by Azzurra which had the luxury of bringing their bow down very slightly on approach accelerating to second place. Vladimir Liubomirov’s crew took their second win of the regatta to move up to fourth on the event standings. Azzurra’s second earned them one more point going into the final day.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
The duel for third overall saw Rán Racing seize back third place when they finished fifth to Provezza’s bogey ninth. Just as there was in Cascais last year, the third place battle goes to the wire, Rán leading Provezza by just two tiny points.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup - Standings after day 4 (6 races)

1. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (1,1,2,8,1,2) 15 pts
2. Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (4,2,3,3,5,3) 20 pts
3. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (2,6,4,2,2,8) 24 pts
4. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,8,1,4,4,1) 26 pts
5. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (5,7,7,1,6,7) 33 pts
6. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,4,9,6,3,9) 34 pts
7. Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (7,3,8,5,9,5) 37 pts
8. Phoenix, USA (Richard Cohen USA) (9,9,6,10,7,4) 45 pts
9. Alegre, GBR (Andrés Soriano USA) (10,10,5,7,10,6) 48 pts
10. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (6,5,10,9,8,10) 48 pts
52 Super Series Media

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Back At The Dock - 52 Super Series - Day 3

Terry Hutchinson (USA) Tactician Quantum Racing (USA):
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“It’s been awesome, such a solid team effort all along. For me, this was by far the most rewarding season we have ever had because we’ve shared the helmsman role between Ed and Doug, and it’s just been a solid team effort all season long. I think it took us getting smacked around a little bit last year to understand that we’ve got to get back to basics. We had to get back to hard work and due diligence, and making sure that we put every possible amount of effort forward to be successful.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
"We’ve made some hard decisions in the winter. Brett Jones got off the boat to bring James Dagg on board, to have Brett focus on designing our sails, and he did spectacular work. Since I’ve been sailing, I don’t think I’ve ever sailed a TP52 that’s been that step ahead like we have been. And it was awesome to do it with two different helmsmen.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
"So the changes we made at the end of last year were really good steps forward. But now, we’re 12 weeks away from the first 2017 regatta. But more importantly, we’ve got to see this one out. We had a great last race, so now we’re tied on points with Azzurra, and now we’ve got to go out and have two more days of solid mental toughness.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
"Our sail programme is really good. The conceptions of how it worked once the mainsail is up and how Dagg wants the jibs to look. They were nice gains through the off season so to speak. The guys have worked hard on the structures in the sails, making sure that we have the right layouts and fibre content. All of it is a step in the right direction. We had a couple of meetings here to discuss where our baselines are, and how we move forward from here.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
"The 2017 season is going to present new challenges for us. If you look at pictures of the entire fleet sailing, everyone has gravitated towards our sail set ups and our sail shapes. That in itself means that next season, the fleet is going to be closer and better. So we’re going to have to apply the same logic.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
"When you compete against guys as good as Vasco Vascotto, you’ve got to wake up mentally tough, because otherwise they are going to beat on you. It’s without question the hardest part. There are so many good sailors here, you look across our fleet, and from top to bottom there are so many good sailors, and so to think that you don’t have to be anything but tough all the time is a mistake. Just when you want to let your guard down, you get kicked in the teeth.”
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
52 Super Series Media

Azzurra and Quantum Tied At The Top - 52 Super Series Cascais Cup - Day 3

Quantum Racing sealed the 2016 52 Super Series title when they crossed the finish line of the fourth race of the Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup winning the overall season with two days of racing still to be completed.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
The American-flagged team has won four out of four regattas this season. And when they crossed the finish line in third late this afternoon with Azzurra in eighth, they now share the same points tally as the leaders of this final regatta this season.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Hard driving tactician Terry Hutchinson acknowledged that their outstanding string of regatta wins this season owes a lot to the pain and frustration felt one year ago when they finished second overall to Azzurra in the chase for the 2015 title.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“I think it took us getting smacked around a little bit last year to understand that we had got to get back to basics. We had to get back to hard work and due diligence, and to making sure that we put every possible amount of effort forward to be successful,” Hutchinson said.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
The 2016 title is Quantum Racing’s third since the 52 Super Series started out in 2012, adding to their series wins in 2013 and 2014.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“It’s been awesome, such a solid team effort all along. For me, this was by far the most rewarding season we have ever had because we’ve shared the helmsman role between Ed [Baird] and Doug [DeVos], and it’s just been a solid team effort all season long,” Hutchinson continued,
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Quantum Racing will keep their celebrations on ice, reserved for Saturday night’s glamorous prize-giving. Meanwhile, they brought their clean sweep of all five regatta titles within closer reach when they returned a typical solid pair of two thirds from the testing windward-leewards. As erstwhile regatta leaders Azzurra sailed to a second and an eighth the two are now locked together on 12pts with two days of racing left.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
A delay to racing was rewarded with two competitive races, where opportunities for gains and losses were always available in the shifting westerly to nor’westerly breezes which varied from seven to 10 knots.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Azzurra sailed the first beat of Race 3 best and led around the top mark with Bronenosec second. Quantum Racing were hard on their heels but lost slightly at the windward mark when they found themselves shy of the final layline, having to shoot the turn downspeed. Bronenosec gained on the right on the first downwind to lead at the leeward gate holding on to win ahead of Azzurra with Quantum Racing third.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
The breeze was slightly further right for Race 4 meaning the course was closer to the shore. Bronenosec led at the top mark from Quantum Racing and Sled. But on the second, final run tactician John Kostecki and strategist Jordi Calafat held Platoon out to the right of the downwind and made a gain from fourth to first.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Azzurra and Quantum Racing are now tied on 12 points, Takashi Okura’s Sled are third also posting a six point day, sailing to fourth and second and Platoon move to fourth overall for the regatta.The tussle for third step on the 52 Super Series podium sees Rán Racing holding a four points lead over Provezza now. Platoon lie fifth and are now just nine points behind Provezza.
Photo: © Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Egnos 52 Super Series Cascais Cup - Standings after Day 3, four races.

1. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (1,1,2,8) 12 pts
2. Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (4,2,3,3) 12 pts
3. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (2,6,4,2) 14 pts
4. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (5,7,7,1) 20 pts
5. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,8,1,4) 21 pts
6. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,4,9,6) 22 pts
7. Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (7,3,8,5) 23 pts
8. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (6,5,10,9) 30 pts
9. Alegre, GBR (Andrés Soriano USA) (10,10,5,7) 32 pts
10. Phoenix, USA (Richard Cohen USA) (9,9,6,10) 34 pts

52 Super Series Media