Ran's marathon win, Iberdrola lead Soto 40s

Posted on May 21, 2011 by UNITED PHOTO PRESS


While Niklas and Catherine Zennstrom and the crew of Ràn, newcomers to the Audi MedCup Circuit this season, scored their first win from today’s 38.5 miles coastal race which carries the 1.5 points bounty, second place for Quantum Racing ensures the TP52 world champions enter the final day of the Cascais Trophy with a lead of 5.5pts over Audi Azzurra Sailing Team.

And as the 40 Series fleet approach their final day of their first regatta in Europe a win in the close, exacting second race which was contested closer inshore, over a shorter more tactical course, keeps the Spanish crew of Iberdrola Team in the driving seat with a lead of six points after six of eight planned races.

Zennstrom’s crew with Gavin Brady calling tactics and Steve Hayles as navigator, sailed an impeccable, relatively trouble free race, leading at every mark of the track which took the fleet out to Cabo Raso to the west of Cascais – where the winds peaked at 22kts – down river towards Lisbon where the breeze dropped to a much more gentle 12kts with a strong current to contend with.

While their success was in the simplicity of their clean sailing, keeping out of trouble ahead of the chasing pack, comebacks of different magnitudes were required for second placed Quantum Racing and third placed Audi Azzurra Sailing Team.

For Quantum Racing that was fighting back from being slightly out of phase when the pressure proved to be offshore, to the left of the first short beat, but for Vasco Vascotto, Francesco Bruni and the crew of Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, fouling Synergy Sailing Team on the long beat to Cabo Raso – not completing their tack in time – required a penalty which meant they rounded the most westerly turn of the course in last place with a deficit of 1 minute and 34 seconds.

But to their credit, according to Vascotto they stuck to the game plan, worked furthest offshore on the long run back, picking up some stunning surfs in the brisk conditions, to pass the mid-race mark in fourth, just 16 seconds off third placed Synergy Russian Sailing Team. Their atonement was completed when they overhauled the Russians on the penultimate leg.

And while America’s Cup winning helm Ed Baird and the Quantum Racing crew did their best to bounce the Italian flagged boat right and offer Synergy an opening, this ensuring a one boat buffer between them and their nearest rivals for the overall, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team kept their cool and, as Vascotto put it later, are ‘still alive’.

While the top four were those who kept their attack on the rails in the stiff conditions, the so-far consistent Container ripped their preferred heavy airs downwind spinnaker from luff to leech and were relegated to today’s second division as a consequence, so too Bríbon slumped back on this downwind handicapped also by a spinnaker tear.

“It was just great downwind sailing, I mean phenomenal downwind sailing!” smiled Adrian Stead, Quantum Racing’s tactician, “….just great fun, completely full on and it just adds to it, seeing kites blowing up around you, and people struggling.”

Race winner Zennstrom said: “ We handled the boat well and managed to stay away from them. We´ve made so many mistakes this week that it was time for us not to make any, and we almost achieved that goal. It was important to get our first win, it boosts our confidence. Now we can put our first Audi MedCup victory behind and try to get a few more in the future”.

Afonso Domingos, Inaki Castaner and the Bigamist crew won the first, boisterous Soto 40 race with a 50 seconds lead over their compatriots on XXII Portuguese Sailing Team, while the Spanish team finished third.

But the second heat of the day showed a different side of the adaptable Soto 40’s as they raced on their own laid course with a windward mark just off the Cascais Marina entrance. With the wind shifting and puffing up and down, blowing off the town, a thrilling five way tussle saw Iberdrola prevail, holding a slender lead over XXII, while Tony Buckingham’s Ngoni (GBR) stole a third place on the final beat.

Niklas Zennström (SWE), skipper, RÀN (SWE):

“We are very pleased because we´ve had very bad days before. We took a good breath yesterday, we went back to basics and it helped us to get our confident back. It was a nice race, we wanted to have a good start and we did. We sailed very well upwind and going downwind was also a lot of fun, but at the second mark Quantum nearly got to us. We handled the boat well and managed to stay away from them. We´ve made so many mistakes this week that it was time for us not to make any, and we almost achieved that goal. It was important to get our first win, it boosts our confidence. Now we can put our first Audi MedCup victory behind and try to get a few more in the future”.

Afonso Domingos (POR), skipper, Bigamist (POR):

“The first race was great, with great conditions as usual in Cascais, lots of wind and big waves… Just after the start we gained speed and after a while being second we managed to lead the race. We´ve gone great upwind, which helped us stay on top for so long. The tactic job by Hugo Rocha has helped us a lot; we saw that Iberdrola was getting closer, but kept sailing well and got a victory. The second one didn´t go well, we were in a tight pack and we couldn´t sail the way we should´ve had”.

Kevin Hall (USA), navigator, Quantum Racing (USA):

“We are really pleased with the result, started a little back from the line but got a really nice stretch later on that put us back in the fight. Going downwind was a lot of fun, but it got kind of tricky at the end with the current. After that it was a nice trip up and down the river. We almost reached RÀN at the bottom but they did a really nice job. The boat is going very well, we have a great crew and the sails are doing fine. We were trying to stay put of trouble and stay in the hunt.”

Pichu’ Torcida (ESP), skipper, Iberdrola Team (ESP):

“We almost started out of line at the first race, we missed a position and struggled against XXII, who forced us for the rest of the race. We beat them later with a leeward tack and almost caught Bigamist. After that we went fine downwind and chose the right mark, but upwind Bigamist made us go right and we got stuck. We had to recover again and managed to finish third. We started great in the second race by the pin, in the favored side, and we rounded the top mark leading although we had a problem with the spinnaker, a knot, that we finally solved. The critical moment came at the leeward gate, because XXII protested, but we didn´t break any rules, we left enough space and the committee showed the green flag. Then we sailed well but it was quite difficult since the boats were on both sides and we had a difficult task covering them. It was thrilling”.

Cascais Trophy

52 Series overall standings after 7 races
1-Quantum (USA) 3+3+5+1+1+1+3 = 17 points
2-Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA) 5+1+2+2+6+2+4,5 = 22,5 points
3-Container (GER) 2+2+4+3+3+3+7,5 = 24,5 points
4-Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) 1+6+3+4+4+6+6 = 30 points
5-Ràn (SUE) 6+4+6+5+7+5+1,5 = 34,5 points
6-Bribon (ESP) 4+7+1+6+2+7+10,5 = 37,5 points
7-Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One (EUR) 7+5+7+7+5+4+9 = 44 points
8-Gladiator (GBR) DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC = 67,5 points

40 Series overall standings after 6 races
1-Iberdrola (ESP) 1+1+2+2+3+1 = 10 points
2-Bigamist (POR) 2+4+3+1+1+5 = 16 points
3-XXII Portuguese Sailing Team (POR) 3+2+4+3+2+2 = 16 points
4-Patagonia (ARG) 4+3+1+4+5+4 = 21 points
5-Ngoni (GBR) 5+5+5+DNF+4+3 = 28 points