Luna Rossa led the 52 Super Series Zadar Royal Cup after making something of a dream start to the second regatta of the 2018 52 Super Series.
The emblematic Italian team, racing just their second ever event as a TP52 team won the opening light-winds race – their first ever race win together – followed up with a second to lead the 11-boat fleet, which is racing on the beautiful waters off Zadar, Croatia for the first time.
While Luna Rossa were on impeccable form, making the best starts in the fleet as they delivered on their strategic choice of starting on the pin, left end of the line, and going left, their level of satisfaction at the end Day 1 of racing was matched – or probably even exceeded – by Tony Langley’s crew of Gladiator who lie second and Tina Plattner and the crew of Phoenix who lie third.
Disappointed to have seen their planned top-level cooperation with Ben Ainslie Racing dissolve unexpectedly pre-season, Langley made the choice to regroup and bring some younger sailors on to the team. They have worked hard, most recently doing three back-to-back Rhode Island races and regattas with the British businessman’s US-based TP52.
Younger up and coming sailors like Will Alloway and Matt Brushwood who sail on the INEOS Rebels UK GC32, and Brad Mclaughlin who was on the Gladiator shore team before spending a year with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s programme, are playing key roles on board Gladiator. Young Boat Captain Feargal Finlay has been promoted here to navigator while the super experienced Hamish Pepper is tactician.
Langley’s choice bore fruit today as they led Luna Rossa across the finish line to win the second race and so lie second overall.
Meantime, Tina Plattner did excellent work as the first woman helm in the six year history of the 52 Super Series, finishing third in the first race, her first ever contest in the 52 Super Series, which they followed up with a seventh to lie third overall.
Racing off Zadar city, breezes were only light, around seven-to-eight knots for the first contest, and just 10 kts at the start of the second heat. Luna Rossa led off the start line and so chased Provezza around the first top mark of Race 1. Ergin Imre’s crew had gone just slightly further to the left and so had a small lead over Luna Rossa down the first run. But Provezza suffered a failure with their drop line system and their spinnaker went into the water, dropping them all the way down the pack. As Luna Rossa ran away with their first ever win on the circuit – their previous best being third in the last race in Sibenik – Andy Soriano’s Alegre got second, and Phoenix third.
But it was the right that worked out best for Gladiator on the second race, just pipping Luna Rossa at the first turn. Luna Rossa’s start was a facsimile of their opening race. They were smart enough to consolidate early on, but Gladiator remained firm, holding a 50-metre advantage over the Luna Rossa on the second round.
Helm Francesco Bruni wore a huge smile after docking Luna Rossa:
“It was a magical day for us. We did just about everything perfectly. And of course we know that not every day can be like this one, so we enjoy the pleasure of it while it lasts. For the first time we had a clear strategy, we knew where we wanted to go and we had two fantastic starts. I think it was all playing well for us and it was a team result today. Tactics, strategy, boat handling: it was all working well. A lot of times we have made decisions that were wrong; this time we were right!”
And the good natured banter between owner Langley and navigator Finlay belied a huge measure of satisfaction, not least for the young navigator:
“To be on the boat and play a part in a day like today when the competition is the best in the world is great. To be racing against some of the guys out there for me is just great, but to get a race win is fantastic, really enjoyable. To be racing in the same race as Vasco Vascotto, Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill is great but to have them chasing you down is fantastic. It was never over till we crossed the finish.”
A short Coastal Race is scheduled Thursday followed by one Windward-Leeward race, or vice versa, depending on conditions. Racing is due to start at 13:00 CEST.
Overall standings after Day 1:
1. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (1,2) 3 p.
2. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (7,1) 8 p.
3. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (3,7) 10 p.
4. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (6,4) 10 p.
5. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (5,5) 10 p.
6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (2,9) 11 p.
7. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (11,3) 14 p.
8. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto / Pablo Roemmers) (4,10) 14 p.
9. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (9,6) 15 p.
10. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (8,8) 16 p.
11. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (10,11) 21 p.
Tony Langley (GBR) owner-driver Gladiator (GBR):
“We sailed pretty well today but what is particularly gratifying is to have a bunch of young guys on board and they really have been working extremely hard to get up to the standard required here, and so today in a way endorses what we have done. Some of what we have done has been forced upon us because of what happened. We could have put together a crew, we can do that any time, put to put together a crew is something else. So what we elected to do was to get a bunch of youngsters on board and go out there with not too much expectation and to just get some of these young guys an exposure to this level of sailing. So we are pretty pleased with that.”
Feargal Finlay (GBR) Navigator Gladiator (GBR):
“To be on the boat and play a part in a day like today when the competition is the best in the world is great. To be racing against some of the guys out there for me is just great, but to get a race win is fantastic, really enjoyable. To be racing in the same race as Vasco Vascotto, Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill is great but to have them chasing you down is fantastic. It was never over.”
Francesco Bruni (ITA) helm Luna Rossa (ITA):
“It was a magical day for us. We did just about everything perfectly. And of course we know that not every day can be like this one, so we enjoy the pleasure of it while it lasts. For the first time we had a clear strategy, we knew where we wanted to go and we had two fantastic starts. I think it was all playing well for us and it was a team result today. Tactics, strategy, boat handling: it was all working well. A lot of times we have made decisions that were wrong; this time we were right! The boat is going well. We have the same good downwind speed in the light that we showed in Sibenik but we have good upwind speed now which is a great help. We have made some small mods to the sails.”
Tina Plattner (RSA) owner-driver Phoenix (RSA):
“I have raced a modified Farr 40 for five years in Cape Town and this last season we have raced the Cape 31 in Cape Town, which is a one design class that has sprung up there. But otherwise it has been cruising and sitting on the back of the Maxi, so it has been a bit of a steep learning curve recently. I have not come from a dinghy background. We started last November in Cape Town with ten days of training to get up to scratch, then did ten days in Palma with the two boats in April, so we are getting there, but it is learning, step by step. We have so much support from South Africa it is nice to have everyone getting behind us and being proud to have a South African team here. It is nice. I have never seen it as a big thing. I hate it when people say we need more women, more of anything. Yes it is nice, but we should all be equal. It should not be girls are not as good as guys. We need to just put the time in and to learn. I have a really good team here looking after me. They tell me where to go and what to do and I do my best to do it.”
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Azzurra begins the second event in the 52 Super Series on a low note (from Azzurra)
Azzurra places fourth followed by a disappointing tenth and ends the day on a low note. Congratulations to Luna Rossa who has captured the lead of the provisional scoreboard with first and second place finishes today.
The Race Committee at the Zadar Royal Cup, second event in the 2018 52 Super Series, had to wait until 2 PM to begin racing before the morning’s Bora wind was pushed out by thermal breeze from the northwest. Breeze was at 8 to 10 knots and very unstable in the first race then built to 12 and became more stable in the second race.
Star of the day was Luna Rossa, who has captured the lead of the provisional results with a good margin with today’s first and second place finishes. Gladiator, who won the second race, is right behind her.
It was an uphill battle for Azzurra who didn’t manage to follow up on her good fourth place finish in the first race ending the second race in tenth place. In the first race Azzurra was at the head of the fleet during the beat, when a sudden wind shift cost her positions and she dropped back near the mark. From the back of the fleet the boat flying the YCCS burgee fought back hard and was eighth then fourth at the end of the second upwind leg, a position she held on to until the end of the race.
The second race saw a very compact fleet at the end of the upwind leg. Azzurra was cut off by Quantum and had to manoeuvre quickly to avoid a collision: her protest was not granted by the Umpires and she again had to fight back from the back of the fleet. This time around she constantly attacked her adversaries and only managed to recover one position over Onda, the Brazilian team with Robert Scheidt tactician. There was a spectacular three way battle between Alegre, Provezza and Azzurra right before the finish, but Azzurra didn’t manage to gain any advantage from it. It was just a question of a few metres, but in the 52 Super Series that’s what makes the difference and the distance between the first and the last placed team is always minimal.
Santiago Lange, tactician had these words: “We had a tough day, especially in the second race. In the first race we recovered well from last to fourth but in the second we had a chance at the upwind mark that we didn’t manage to cash in on.”
Racing will begin tomorrow at 1 PM with a slight variation: instead of the 30 mile coastal race there will be a windward leeward race followed by an 18 mile coastal race. That order of events could be inverted as per the Race Committee’s decision. The weather forecast calls for conditions similar to today’s.
by 52 Super Series