Saturday, May 25, 2013

Azzurra under pressure - 52 SUPER SERIES

Although Azzurra lead into the final day of the Conde de Godo Trophy regatta after two fast, challenging races in fresh SE’ly winds Saturday, the defending 52 SUPER SERIES champions remain under consistently high pressure from Quantum Racing. 

 
Indeed the American team got the better of Azzurra on the final run today, inflicting a small but perhaps telling psychological blow when they wrestled second place on the last gybe of the at the end of a fabulous, high speed duel which had raged back and forth from the last windward turn.

Winning the first race of the day with a significant margin over Austin Fragomen’s Interlodge, Azzurra looked to have gained control of Quantum Racing during the first beat of the second race and were set to consolidate their three points lead. But it went to the wire though, with the two gybing side by side for the finish line.

While Quantum Racing accelerated smoothly out of their turn, Azzurra stalled momentarily and could only make third.

After seven races Azzurra go into the final day of racing with two points in hand over Quantum Racing with Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing in third, a further two points behind. Up to two races might be sailed Sunday.

Although Quantum Racing completed a solid day, returning a third and second, from the outside they appeared to make it more difficult than they wanted it to be. In both races they were, again, forced to be climbing up the fleet rather than getting into a position to be challenging for the lead at the first mark.

Immediately after the first start today they had to sail clear to take a penalty turn. In the second, Race 7, they made a well timed, fast start while Azzurra – this time – appeared to struggle off the line. But it was almost as if a magnetic field drew the two top boats together again and they locked horns with Azzurra from the middle of the first beat.

“ Little communications on the starting line got us in difficulties,” evaluated Ed Reynolds, Quantum Racing’s team director later, “You don’t have to make much of a mistake to be put into a position where you can’t execute your game plan. In this fleet the most critical thing is to set yourself up to win the first cross and you have to do a lot of things in a very short space of time perfectly for that to happen.”

In the strong, 18-22kts winds the pressure on the crews was relentless and the action intense. Rán Racing, world champions, are four points off the lead after their slightly inconsistent day pairing their win to a fifth in the first race. They could not match Azzurra’s early speed and then compounded their problems when they skiffed the top mark last time up and had to take a penalty.

Two races are scheduled to be sailed, weather permitting on Sunday, Azzurra needing to keep up their same level of consistency to be sure of burying their Barcelona hoodoo and winning in the Catalan capital.

Conde de Godo Trophy, 52 SUPER SERIES
Standings after 7 races:

1- Azzurra (ITA), (1-3-1-2-4-1-3) 15 points
2- Quantum Racing (USA), (3-1-2-4-4-3-2) 17 points
3- Rán (SWE), (2-4-3-1-3-5-1) 19 points
4- Interlodge (USA) (4-2-6-5-6-2-4) 29 points
5- Gladiator (GBR) (5-7-7-3-1-4-5) 32 points
6- Rio (USA) (7-6-5-6-5-6-6) 41 points
7- Provezza (TUR) (6-5-4-7-7-7-7) 43 points

Source; 52 SUPER SERIES
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