Wednesday, May 23, 2018

It's All Green On Day One of 52 Super Series in Croatia

Wednesday 23rd May, Sibenik
Photo: Nico Martinez
From the high tension and great expectations that prevailed amongst the crews of the 12 TP52s, who contested an exciting first day of the 2018 52 Super Series, it is three-time champions, Quantum Racing who have emerged with the tiniest possible lead at the Sibenik 52 Super Series Sailing Week in Croatia.
Photo: Nico Martinez
With nine shiny, brand new boats competing on a race arena that is completely new to the 52 Super Series, the de-facto leading grand prix monohull circuit in the world, it was the Quantum Racing crew, marshalled by afterguard Terry Hutchinson; tactician, Dean Barker; and helm and navigator Ian Moore, that finish the day ahead, but only on countback by virtue of their victory in the second race of the day.
Photo: Nico Martinez
It proved to be a dream start to the season for the Quantum-powered crews as Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon mirrored their counterparts’ score with a 1,4 to lie second – on the same points aggregate – and Brazilian Eduardo de Souza Ramos crew on Onda, the third team in the Quantum stable, lie third after a strong opening second and seventh places.
Photo: Max Ranchi
The tactical key to the first race was recognising the wind shift generated on the right side of the course by the effect of an island upwind to the right of the course, and in the second race when there was a thunderstorm lurking out to the right of the course area there was a series of shifts totalling more than 50 degrees from the start.
Photo: Nico Martinez
After the Race 1 start, World Champions Platoon took the lead on the first downwind, when early pacemakers Provezza appeared to suffer a technical problem with their kite halyard. Onda, with five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt as tactician, stuck to their pre-start game plan and benefited from their early choice to go right, moving up to second on the downwind behind Platoon. That was the order through the finish line but the last run witnessed several exciting place changes in the 8-10 knot seabreeze, and the finishes behind the runaway top two were some of the closest yet.
Photo: Max Ranchi
Quantum Racing’s was the sharpest start of the day when they leapt off the line in the second race, that allowed them to take early control of the right side and by the top mark they were sixty metres, or more, clear of second-placed Gladiator. Once more the top two were able to hold their positions through the finish line with Takashi Okura’s Sled placing third with Platoon fourth.

It proved to be a fascinating opening to the season. The surprise package were Onda who have made significant gains since finishing tenth at PalmaVela, but tactician Scheidt pointed out they had stuck with their game plans, but the hugely experienced Brazilians positioned their boat shrewdly, keeping away from the traffic and any tussles with the top teams. 

On successive first beats, XIO Hurakan, the Italian team lead by Tomasso Chieffi, were top four, only fading on the second round. So too Gladiator – with Morgan Larson as tactician – proved a new boat is not a pre-requisite to win a podium place. And right now race wins are shared evenly between the Botin (Quantum Racing) and the Vrolijlk (Platoon) design studios.

“The difference between the two designers’ boats was greater last year. I know we are closer this year in terms of performance. You can win races with either boats. But this is such a long season it is hard to guess what will happen,” said Harm Müller-Spreer owner-driver of Platoon.

“The conditions were tough and both boats Quantum Racing and Platoon executed one race well. There were some big shifts and so Terry [Hutchinson, Quantum tactician] played that nicely in the second race,” explains the Quantum team coach James Lyne. “The level is higher than ever. There are more coaches, there are more analysts, there are better sailors on board. The level keeps going up,” said James Lyne, the Quantum coach.

“We had a plan. We stuck to our plan, and it worked. Sometimes you can be a little bit lucky and I think we got a nice shift on the first beat and that put us up the front at the top mark of the first race. If you can be in the top three at the first mark you can have your own race, you can use your speed and sail your own race,” said Robert Scheidt from Onda and back in the TP52 class for the first time since 2010.

Circuit champions Azzurra, reckoned to be the best prepared team and winners of PalmaVela training regatta in early May did not have the start they wanted. Their opening third was strong enough but they were on the wrong side of the first big shift during the second race and could not recover, resulting in a weighty tenth. So too it was something of a baptism of fire for the Luna Rossa crew, which lies just one place ahead of their training partners Azzurra after a 7,5 start to their campaign.

Regatta standings at the end of Day 1

1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (4,1) 5 p.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,4) 5 p.
3. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (2,7) 9 p.
4. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (7,5) 12 p.
5. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (3,10) 13 p.
6. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (10(+2 PEN PTS),2) 14 p.
7. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (5,9) 14 p.

8. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (8,6) 14 p.
9. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (12,3) 15 p.
10. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (9,8) 17 p.
11. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (6,12) 18 p.
12. XIO Hurakan (ITA) (Marco Serafini) (11,11) 22p.

Andi Robertson 52 Super Series Media Director

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