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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Azzurra Crowned Royal Cup Kings of Miami - 52 Super Series

In winning the 52 Super Series second regatta of the 2017 season, the Miami Royal Cup, Azzurra proved once again that a team on the bounceback from a modest preceding event is often at it's most potent. The emblematic team of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda felt they were not at their best in Key West in January, lacking speed when they finished in fifth, seven points behind regatta winners Quantum Racing.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
But ongoing hard work, constantly striving to find that speed they felt they lacked, has been rewarded over the last five days of racing off the iconic Miami Beach, racing across a wind range of six to 22 knots, when they posted seven results in the top three – including three race wins – from the nine races series to win the top trophy by clear eight points.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Their impressive 24-points aggregate from the nine races compares favourably with Quantum Racing’s 43 point tally over the ten races sailed in Key West.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
In seven to 14 knot E’ly winds Azzurra completed their winning scoreline with a third and a fourth today. The crew, led by Guillermo Parada with tactician Vasco Vascotto win their first circuit regatta since they triumphed in Cascais – the final event of the 2016 season – with a nearly facsimile run of points and final aggregate.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon finish runners up just as they did when they were second behind Quantum Racing in Key West, so becoming the only team to have finished on the podium at both of this season’s events. Ergin Imre’s Provezza finish third despite a shaky eighth place in the last race of the regatta, but earn their third career podium place on the 52 Super Series.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
While the Azzurra team were certainly happy to pop the champagne and celebrate the win at Monty’s on South Beach, the knowledge that they will head back to Europe and the next regatta in May in Scarlino with the overall circuit lead and a boat that appears to have few weak points is even more comforting.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“We had a hard time in Key West. We didn’t feel very fast, especially in certain conditions. So we work and we make a lot of changes. This week we have a completely different boat. As I said a couple days ago, ‘glory doesn’t last forever’, but at least we make it last for two months, which is the biggest break of the season.” said Guillermo Parada.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
A fast boat is one component to a regatta win. Another is a hot tactician and a cohesive crew. Vascotto was in step all week with the shifty South Florida wind, and while many of their competitors struggled at times with unforced crew work errors, the Azzurra team sailed cleanly throughout.

“Obviously we need to enjoy today. We need a beer, for sure. A martini, Panini. We need to start thinking about the future because this fleet is working hard and if you’re asleep, you’re in trouble. I’m already concentrating on the next event feeling we need to work harder because the other good teams will work harder than what we did in the past regatta. I’m sure that we need to improve,” Vascotto reflected on the week.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Another boat that will head into the four European 52 Super Series regattas with confidence is Platoon. The incorporation of tactician John Kostecki and main trimmer Dirk de Ridder – both have won the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race – into the crew line up for this season is appearing to pay off, so too the solid skills of Spanish Volvo racer, Pepe Ribes, as boat captain. While the team isn’t convinced they have solved their issues in lighter air, they did make significant progress.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
“It’s a ‘work in progress'. We’re getting better every day. We felt pretty weak in the light air in Key West and fortunately we had some light air here and we were able to kind of get on top of some of our issues. We seem to be a lot better, so it’s pretty exciting,” Kostecki said.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Meanwhile, Quantum Racing – the 2016 Champions – are on a learning curve with new helmsman Bora Gulari, who was steering his first regatta with the team. They will very shortly be back at their best, but were not at their sharpest off the start line and that made life tough at times in this white-hot fleet.
Photo: © Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio / 52 Super Series
Final Standings, 52 Super Series Miami Royal Cup after 9 races

1. Azzurra (A and P Roemmers, ITA/ARG), (2,2,1,1,2,1,8,3,4) 24pts
2. Platoon (Harm Müller-Spreer GER,), (3,1,8,2,7,3,4,1,3) 32 p.
3. Provezza (Ergin Imre, TUR) (5,3,3,4,4,5,3,4,8) 39 p.
4. Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, USA), (1,4,6,7,1,9,5,2,7) 42 p.
5. Sled (Takashi Okura, USA), (6, DSQ12,5,9,3,6,1,5,5) 52 p.
6. Rán Racing (Niklas Zennström, SWE), (4,8,4,3,10,8,10,6,1) 54 p.
7. Gladiator (Tony Langley, GBR) (7, RDG6,2, RDG6,2, RDG6,2,6,7,2,9,7,6) 55,6 p.
8. Bronenosec (Vladimir Liubomirov, RUS), (10,5,2,6,8,2,7,10,10,9) 59 p.
9. Alegre (Andrés Soriano GBR/USA) (8,6,7,5,9,10,9,7,2) 63 p.
10. Sorcha (Peter Harrison, GBR) (9,7,9,8,5,4,6,8,10) 66 p
11. Paprec (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, FRA) (DNC12, DNC12, DNC12, DNC12, DNC12, DNC12, DNC12, DNC12, DNC12, DNC12) 108 p

52 Super Series Media

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