Friday, August 24, 2018

Italians are Nipping at Quantum's Heels - 52 Super Series Sailing Week - Puerto Portals - Day 4

Friday 24th August, Puerto Portals, Spain

The 2017 regatta on the Bay of Palma enjoyed the closest of finishes, this 2018 edition is shaping up for a repeat performance. Though they had their worst day of the regatta so far, returning a sixth and an eighth, Quantum Racing go into the final day of the Puerto Portals 52 Super Series Sailing Week with a four point lead ahead of long-time adversaries, Azzurra.
Quantum Racing Photo: © Nico Martinez
Breathing down the necks of the Roemmers’ family team, Azzurra, are a posse of three crews: Luna Rossa, Platoon and Phoenix, which are all just one point behind. This regatta was close last year, with just two points separating the top three boats, and it is shaping up to deliver an equally close finish on Saturday on the Bay of Palma.
Azzurra Photo: © Nico Martinez
After a deeply frustrating couple of days, during which they seemed to attract the umpire's red flags like moths to a flame, Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon shrugged off their woes and posted a solid pair of third places, the best aggregate of the day, just when they needed it. They were even over the start line early in the first race but recovered very quickly to round the first top mark in third.
Photo: © Nico Martinez
Tactician John Kostekci explained some of the keys to their turnaround:

“We made some big mistakes early in the week, but we’ve actually been sailing well, so we didn’t actually have to change too much. It seems like the boat is going well in the lighter air that we’ve been having the last few days, so we managed to avoid the penalties today and have a good result. Today we sailed well, there were some opportunities out there, especially the first beat of the first race. It was shifty, maybe we had a few breaks here and there but we sailed well also.
Platoon Photo: © Nico Martinez
"The race course is tough and we have Jordi Calafat as our strategist who’s local and lived here his entire life. He says it’s a very unusual week, more like September/October weather that we’re having right now rather than August. So a lot of times he’s just like: ‘I don’t know, let’s just keep our heads out of the boat!’ It’s just one of those weeks.”

It has been tough for the very competitive owner-driver Müller-Spreer, Kostecki explained:
Platoon Photo: © Nico Martinez
“He’s quite upset, but we’re not surpised, the whole team. As a team we’ve been letting him down. We picked it up today, and he’s in good spirits, talking about next season. He’s been in this game forever and he’s a sailor, and I think he realises that we’re sailing against some of the top sailors in the world, so it’s all good.”
Luna Rossa Photo: © Nico Martinez
So too, the Italian America’s Cup team Luna Rossa were slightly more consistent than their Thursday rollercoaster 9,1 when they became the first team to win back-to-back races in these hard-to-read sea breezes. Luna Rossa’s 1,6 today still reflects lost opportunities, according to tactician Vasco Vascotto, but the winners of this season’s Zadar Royal Cup have at least now given themselves a fighting chance of their second regatta title of the season.
Photo: © Nico Martinez
On their race win today, Vascotto commented:

“This has been the first race that we’ve had a very good start and been faster than the other days. That allowed us to prove our performance. We’ve managed to do on the water just what we have said we want in our morning meetings. But in the second race I made a mistake. We will come back for it again tomorrow. Yesterday we had this very unlucky collision with Gladiator and it cost us eleven points. We’ve made plenty of mistakes throughout this week, but here we are, we are still in a place to try and win.”
Phoenix Photo: © Nico Martinez
And just as things didn’t go Quantum Racing’s way today, neither did they for Tina Plattner’s Phoenix. At the very point they could have been closing their deficit on Quantum Racing, they came trailing in last in the first race of the day before a better mid-fleet fifth in the second race.
Quantum Racing Photo: © Nico Martinez
But the odds are still with Quantum Racing, although charismatic owner-driver Doug DeVos emphasised:

“We said coming in: ‘we hurt ourselves today, but we didn’t kill ourselves,’ and that’s exactly what it’s like in this fleet. After a couple of good days, something bad is going to come our way, and this is what it is. We certainly can’t afford to do the same thing again tomorrow. Any mistake that you make, in this fleet gets punished,” 
DeVos said.
Quantum Racing Photo: © Nico Martinez
“It’s still open, and everyone’s still working their hardest. You just have to take a deep breath and try to relax. we’ve been sailing long enough to not get frustrated, but to just take a little time, to take a step back and say: ‘we’re still in first place, we’ve made it a little harder for ourselves, let’s just stay focussed and not try to overreact.’”

Regatta standings after seven races:

1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (2,4,2,5,2,6,8) 29 p.

2. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto/Pablo Roemmers) (6,5,1,6,4,9,2) 33 p.
3. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (7,2,6,9 Penalty 2,1,1,6) 34 p

4. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,10,8,2,7,3,3) 34 p.

5. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (5,3,4,4,3,10,5) 34 p.

6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andy Soriano) (3,6,3,8,8,2,9) 39 p.

7. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (8,9,5,1,10,8,1) 42 p.

8. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (4,1,7,10,6,7,10) 45 p.

9. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (9,8,DNF11,3,9,4,4) 48 p.

10. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (10,7,9,7,5,5,7) 50 p.

Andi Robertson

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