At just their second regatta together on the 52 SUPER SERIES, the Italian team on Luna Rossa today lifted the Zadar Royal Cup proving that the genesis of their America’s Cup sailing team is already gelling into a strong, racing unit.
Luna Rossa were sixth on their debut in Šibenik last month, short on time with their freshly launched TP52 and evidently still learning the dynamics of their on board communication. But on the beautiful waters off Croatia’s Dalmatian coast they looked a much more clinical, composed team sailing their Botin partners design which had improved upwind speed in the light airs to complement their already strong downwind abilities.
With Vasco Vascotto as tactician, Francesco Bruni steering and double America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill as strategist, the only non native Italian on board, Luna Rossa showed composure under pressure today.
Starting the day with a three points margin and with a chance of becoming the first female helm to win a 52 SUPER SERIES Tina Plattners’ Phoenix faltered in the regatta’s penultimate race, slumping to an unfortunate 11th and so breaking a chain of solid, consistent results which already included two wins. At the same time Luna Rossa moved up from third at the first windward mark to pass Azzurra for second. That gave the emblematic Italian crew a relatively straightforward opportunity to convert a six points lead to their first piece of major silverware together as a team.
Effervescent tactician Vasco Vascotto, showing the benefit of the Luna Rossa physical conditioning programme, was delighted with their trophy win.
“I’m a lucky guy, I have Francesco Bruni as our driver, James Spithill as strategist, Pietro Sibello on mainsheet, I’m very lucky to have these kind of guys so close to me. They help me a lot to make the decisions, so I think the long term, if we are smart enough to keep going this direction, we will have a great future together!”
After moving from Azzurra to Luna Rossa, Vascotto wins the Royal Cup for the second year in a row.
The Luna Rossa new generation programme has selected seven new young sailors on to their team, some on to the TP52 in the 52 SUPER SERIES. They are feeding off the experience of Bruni, Vascotto, Spithill and co., but in Zadar the triumphant team also included America’s Cup and Admiral’s Cup winning navigator Matteo Plazzi, who stepped in to the breech to replace injured Francesco Mongelli. Plazzi won this Royal Cup with the One Tonner Brava Q8 in 1995 in Denmark and again in 1996 in Greece. Meanwhile Spithill was last victorious in the TP52 class in Marseille ten years ago this month with Larry Ellison’s Reichel Pugh designed USA 17 on which they only every raced one regatta.
It was a bittersweet finale for Tina Plattner. To have come so close to a fairytale debut in the class may have left the Phoenix crew under Ed Baird smarting momentarily after crossing that finish line in 11th. But to their credit they immediately regrouped and recaptured their previous form. Not only did they finish with the huge satisfaction of second overall, holding off Sled on countback and crossing the last finish line ahead of rivals Luna Rossa, but helm Plattner made a text book lee bow tack on her rivals, racing neck and neck with Luna Rossa before they had to tack away.
“I made too many mistakes in the first race.” Acknowledged Baird, “But Tina did a fantastic job. And at that moment as Luna Rossa tacked away I reminded her they are an America’s Cup team and she smiled.”
Tina Plattner revealed:
“When we came in on the boat today Ed said ‘Tina, when I saw you last Friday if I had told you you would have come second what would you have said?’ I said ‘I would have laughed or walked away or given you a little smack on the side and said ‘no way!’ It was definitely way beyond expectations. It’s been good fun it was an awesome fleet to sail in, there are some seriously good people out there.”
The final points table for the regatta shows not only a points tie between second placed Phoenix and Takashi Okura’s Sled, the USA flagged team which has Ray Davies as tactician taking third step on the podium for the second consecutive regatta, fourth placed Provezza share the same tally as fifth placed Platoon and – in sixth Quantum Racing end up just one point behind them.
The Šibenik winners Quantum Racing still leave Croatia with their 2018 52 SUPER SERIES lead at four points but the Rolex TP52 World Championships next month in Cascais returns the fleet to the Atlantic and a different set of regatta winners may emerge.
52 SUPER SERIES Zadar Royal Cup Overall Results:
1. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (1,2,5,3,7,7,2,5) 32pts
2. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (3,7,1,6,4,1,11,3) 36pts
?3. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (6,4,7,1,5,5,6,2) 36pts
4. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (5,5,2,2,8,4,7,10) 43pts
5. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (9,6,3,7,3,2,5,7) (2 penalti) 44pts
?6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (2,9,9,4,1,10,9,1) 45pts
7. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (4,10,10,9,9,3,3,4) 52pts
?8. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (11,3,4,5,10,9,1,11) 54pts
9. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (10,11,6,8,6,6,4,6) 57pts
?10. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (7,1,11,11,2,DNF12,8,8) (2 penalti) 62pts
11. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (8,8,8,10,11,8,10,9) 72pts
2018 52 SUPER SERIES Overall Standings: (after two events)
1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) 73pts
2. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) 77pts
?3. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) 77pts
? 4. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) 81pts
?5. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) 91pts
6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) 96pts
7. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) 98pts
8. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) 103pts
9. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) 110pts
?10. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) 128pts
?11. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) 136pts
Vasco Vascotto (ITA) tactician Luna Rossa (ITA):
“First I’d like to say this result is well-deserved for the job the shore team did during the last month, we’re happy to thank all the designers that are still in Cagliari working hard, sending us messages of support. It’s very important that we are building our relationships, our crew, bigger and bigger, and this result gives us the power to go tomorrow to work even harder in Cagliari, if its possible.”
Adam Beashel (AUS) strategist Sled (USA):
“It’s been a while, but it’s always a very nice easy game there we don’t take anything personally so we can say what we think and we can throw things back and forth and then consolidate when we need to. Mr. Okura is starting to pick up on a lot of our slang and our sign language that we use, and thats one of the key things with an owner just making sure that you paint the picture with him where you’re placing the boat against other boats as it’s very important. It’s still that cliche just trying to take it one regatta at a time and one day at a time but we know we move into quite different venues, Cascais can throw a lot more breeze and a lot more waves at you, so that’s going to be a whole new game for us there. It was nice for us to have the last two days here have a bit more breeze than we’ve had most of the season so far. We came away hoping to get some stuff in 14 knots and we have, and we’re pleasantly surprised at where we’re at. But throw the waves in there and it’ll all become a little bit different again.”
James Spithill (AUS) strategist Luna Rossa (ITA):
On coming in to the team:
“It is taking time. It is a different culture, coming in, I’ve had history with Luna Rossa but this is even a different breed of people now as well. It’s been good but it’s going to take time, and a lot of work, and in this boat we have a lot to learn as well. It was great though to come in under pressure today, in second place and we really had to perform. As a team, it’s a great thing to go through. It was great to see the guys perform when we needed to.
“Vasco is very successful in this type of racing, he’s got a great track record and Ceccho (Francesco Bruni) as well. It just takes time to fit in, but we’re getting better and better every race we do, to get the communication right. I certainly wasn’t expecting to put a harness on and go up the mast today, but you’ll play any role in the team and I’m enjoying it. It’s great racing, he’s a real fighter he’ll fight for every inch on the race course and that’s what I’m used to as well.”
On this as a training for the Cup:
“It’s good for the team to be high level racing and going through design decisions, on this boat you’ve got to produce boat speed to win regattas and you’ve got to make good decisions on the water and that’s good to go through. Obviously the boats we’ll race in the America’s Cup will be vastly different than these, but it’s still good to go out under pressure and win regattas. This is the highest level right now of monohulls, we need to look at some sort of level of foiling class and get out there under pressure racing as well, but it’s good to go through.”
Tina Plattner (GER), helm Phoenix (RSA):
“Every time you go out and every race you start is a new challenge and we try to really start every race from scratch again and say every race is a new race and it doesn’t matter where we just finished let’s try and race a new race. It’s been an awesome experience this last week. The teams’ been great, they’re excited about how we’re doing and its been good fun. For the rest of the summer, my dad and I share the boat, so he’ll do the Worlds in Cascais, then I’ll do Puerto Portals, then my dad finishes the season in Valencia, it’s going to be fun I hope!”
Zadar Royal Cup ends on a positive note for Azzurra (from Azzurra)
With a third and a very close fourth place finish neck to neck with Phoenix, Azzurra has ended her worst week ever on a positive note. Congratulations go to Luna Rossa who wins the second event in the 2018 52 Super Series.
In both of today’s races, run in north-westerly wind that started at 8 knots and built gradually to 15, Azzurra was in second place for a long time, showing that the boat is well tuned and that the team can bounce back from a tough situation. There is still a lot of work to do to get back to top form, but the last three races run in stronger winds have seen Azzurra in the top positions of a fleet that gets more competitive with each event and in incredibly shifty and unpredictable conditions. Even Azzurra’s closest rivals, Platoon and Quantum Racing, have had a tough time and neither team got a podium finish: the former placed fourth overall and the latter fifth. The Royal Cup was won by Luna Rossa, with Phoenix in second place and Sled in third.
Today’s two races were won by Provezza and Alegre, both teams that hit their stride early and well. Azzurra got good starts in both races and chose the best side of the course staying in second place for the greater part of both of the races. But it was hard to control several adversaries who were attacking at the same time. Azzurra lost a position to Luna Rossa in the first race after a close fight at the second mark. In the second race it was Sled that nicked a position from Azzurra, putting her in third place before she was edged out again by just a fraction of a second by Phoenix. This team, with Ed Baird tactician and Tina Plattner at the helm, was fighting to hang on to their leadership at this event, but lost out overall to Luna Rossa. But they are a team to keep a watchful eye on in the rest of the season.
Skipper Guillermo Parada had these words: “For the final three races at this event we have placed more like we should and more like we are capable of. We are correcting past mistakes and leaving Zadar with a bitter taste in our mouths, but we know we can do better. We have come back from behind before and we’ll do it again in Cascais, where conditions will be windier and better for us. We’ve had a really bad week here for a lot of different reasons from an early lack of boat speed to mistakes on our part. And every time that we change a crew member it takes longer than you might think to get the team back to top form, to understand a different way of doing things. But there’s nothing that we can’t work out.”
Riccardo Bonadeo, Commodore of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda: “Sports are made of ups and downs and regattas are no exception. To tell the truth, sailing is even less predictable than other sports. This has been a very unusual week and Azzurra has suffered more than we expected. All the more reason for the YCCS to cheer for its team and the boat that flies our burgee. This year’s 52 Super Series is going to be tougher than ever, but our team is made up of real champions. They have come through in the past and this difficult moment will be useful for showing the way to improve and recapture the lead.”
Tactician Santiago Lange had these words in closing: “We’re going to have to work hard to keep getting the results we have gotten in the last few races and to make up the points we need to catch up to our rivals. We made a lot of errors in a very difficult event, but I’m not making excuses: we know how to sail better than this. We had some trouble every race: sometimes it was down to my tactical errors, sometimes it was boat speed, sometimes there were mechanical failures. Overall, we have to work and practice hard.”
The next and third event in the 52 Super Series will be in Cascais, Portugal from July 17th to 21st. This third event, the Rolex TP52 World Championship, will also determine who the winner of the 2018 TP52 world championship will be.
by 52 Super Series