Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

As far as the America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill is concerned, there is now unfinished business between Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI and the US supermaxi she beat across the finish line, Comanche.

Spithill was one of six helmsmen on Comanche.

“We can’t leave it at that,” he declared after finishing in Hobart. He says that on his watch this morning the boat reached a top speed of 32 knots and knows what she is capable of.

“Everybody got to see the true potential of this boat at the start. I remember looking up at Kenny (Ken Read, the skipper) and he just had this huge grin from ear to ear. Unfortunately we just didn’t see those sort of conditions again until the end of Bass Strait.”

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Of course, young James doesn’t pay the bills. Logistically it is impossible for Comanche to come back to Australia next year but is 2016 likely?

Skipper Ken Read deferred to co-owner Kristy Hinze Clark who said it was a matter for the Big Chief, husband Jim Clark.

Ken: “Kristy, they want to know if we’ll be back next year?”

Kristy: “They’ll have to talk to big chief!”

Ken: “Big chief is not going to talk about that now!”

Read reflected on the crucial point of the race – the high-pressure ridge in Bass Strait.

“We were about a quarter of the way into Bass Strait and expecting a westerly breeze, and all of a sudden Stan (navigator Stan Honey) came up from down below and said ‘I just got a new weather file, this is not looking good’.

“We were two miles ahead of them, in bumpy seas, and they literally went by us, probably going a knot or two faster at the time, and they just sailed into more pressure and just kept extending on the whole fleet.

“Both boats sailed a flawless race; but they had their day. They had 12 hours where they had Wild Oats’ weather, but that’s racing.

“You can already see Comanche is already changing sailing as we speak,” Read said.

So after this first race have they identified any changes they will make to the boat?

“Here’s the start of my list,” he said, holding up a piece of paper with top-secret to-dos written on it.

“It’s brand new, we’re just starting. Before this race started, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We knew we had a good boat right off the start line, the way it just took off on that windy reach.

“Unfortunately we’ve always known we had that one blemish in light air, and that became a dominant feature in the race, so that’s unfortunate for us.”

Designer Xavier Guilbaud said he couldn’t take his eyes off the yacht tracker, keeping notes as Comanche changed angles and the wind circled the compass.

And, he was a bit more forthcoming with his list.

“I’m excited to see Ken’s list, but on top of my own list, what I can see, is work on the weight of the boat to try to lighten her up a bit more, to increase performances in light winds,” he said.

“I’ll discuss with the guys here, a little later, the little bits and pieces on the deck to improve manoeuvres, how the boat is sailed. Then on the sail configuration; how to use each sail, in which condition and improve the sail shapes.

“I think we do have a record breaker on our hands. The real answer will be in June next year when it does the Transatlantic Race. I think the boat is really fast.”

Read was effusive in his praise of the Wild Oats’ crew.

“Wild Oats deserves all its success,” he said, though fate had been against them on Day 2 in Bass Strait when Wild Oats made the better of negotiating a weather ridge that proved the defining moment of the race.

“This was their day; they had their 12 hours; they had Wild Oats’ weather; but that is boat racing,” he said.

“They deserve their eighth record, Lord knows we tried hard to take it from them. This team, our team, did an unbelievable job, and special credit to the boat builders and the design team because Lord knows we tried to break it, and it wouldn’t break.”

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media

 

Azzura leads in Porto Cervo by Max Ranchi

 

Azzurra made something close to the start they wanted at their home waters 52 SUPER SERIES regatta, the Audi Setteima del Boche, today.

They returned to the dock at Sardinia’s Yacht Club Costa Smeralda just as the drizzling rain started, wearing big smiles after they scored a comfortable win in the breezy first race of the regatta and then took a second place to lead the season’s final event by two clear points.

While the Azzurra team, which has yet to finish a 2013 European regatta better than third overall, could enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, no one could mistake the frustration of Quantum Racing’s hard driven tactician Terry Hutchinson at their second and third place finishes today.

Quantum Racing in Porto Cervo (Photo by Max Ranchi)

The American crew, richly studded with America’s Cup winning talent, may be well ahead on the overall 52 SUPER SERIES standings but Hutchinson wants to finish their season unbeaten, winning all four trophy regattas, and with that perfect goal in mind, converting their two leading positions at both first windward marks into that second and third, was deeply frustrating for him.

“ I want to win the regatta.” Hutchinson emphasised, “ I want to put our stamp on the season.”

In the brisk Mistral conditions, the wind just north of west and between 14 and 25 kts, smooth, polished crew work was a premium asset. With rain showers moving through to the south of the island and dark clouds passing overhead, there were always changes in wind pressure and some bigger shifts to use to full effect.

In the first race, the breeziest of the two windward-leewards today, Quantum Racing made the best start and seemed to be cruising to a decent lead.

TP52 Super Series 2013 ( Photo by Max Ranchi)

But at the leeward gate second placed Azzurra picked the right hand gate mark and then worked the right side up the second upwind, earning a good lift to lead over Quantum Racing by the final windward mark which they held to the finish line.

Azzurra could not be faulted on their second start. Starting helmsman and strategist Francesco Bruni – racing his first 52 regatta this season – might this morning have claimed to be feeling a little ring rusty after his months in San Francisco on the Luna Rossa AC72, but Azzurra’s second start – on the pin with pace – was as sharp as any. But although they had a small early lead over Quantum Racing up the first minutes of the upwind, the circuit leaders did steadily ease out ahead to lead around the windward mark again.

This time it was on the second downwind that the big changes occurred, Rob Greenhalgh – tactician on Tony Langley’s Gladiator – chose to work left into better pressure and a nice shift. He admitted later that part of the reason was to stay clear of a cluster which had developed behind after Rán Racing blew up their gennaker, but they made a nice gain coming back with Azzurra to steal first and second across the line.

Gladiator at Porto Cervo (Photo by Max Ranchi)

Langley’s Gladiator – once more burying the perception that theirs is something of a light winds specialist – paired a useful fifth to their race win and so lie third overall only one point behind Quantum Racing.  The circuit leaders Quantum Racing did have to make a small reshuffle of their crew today, substituting for a sick bowman.

Wednesday sees the first of two coastal races planned this week.

52 SUPER SERIES

Audi Settimana del Bocche 2013, Porto Cervo, ITA.

Standings after two races:

1 Azzurra, ITA, (Alberto Roemmers) (1,2) 3pts

2 Quantum Racing, USA, (Doug DeVos) (2,3) 5pts

3 Gladiator, GBR, (Tony Langley) (5,1) 6pts

4 Rán Racing, SWE, (Niklas Zennström) (4,4) 8pts

5 Provezza, TUR, (Ergin Imre) (6,5) 11pts

6 Interlodge, USA, (Austin Fragomen) (3,9) 12pts

7 Rio, USA, (Manouch Moshayedi) (7,6) 13pts

8 B2, ITA, (Michele Galli) (8,8) 16pts

9 Paprec, FRA, (Jean Luc Petithugenin) (DNF, 7) 17pts

B2 in TP52 Super Series( Photo by Max Ranchi)

 

Terry Hutchinson (USA) tactician Quantum Racing (USA):

“We went 2,3 but I am pretty angry as we went 1,1 at the two top marks and we turned them into a 2,3 and that is not acceptable for me. I expect more from myself and out of the guys we are working with to not miss anything. So when you get passed it is like a file going up and down my back, like a big cheese grater. In saying that our bowman was down sick today and Matt Cassidy slipped forward in the boat. We have an awesome group of professional sailors and all credit to them for doing really good work in difficult conditions. The positives are that we executed the starts we wanted, but we have some meat on the bone that we have to get better tomorrow.”

Vasco Vascotto (ITA) tactician Azzurra (ITA):

“ It feels better than Palma. We sailed very well this time. It is nice to have Cecco back on board it makes a difference. He has such great experience. He was trying to get us foiling (laughs).

Francesco Bruni (ITA) strategist and starting helm Azzurra (ITA):

 It was great racing today. I am always amazed how close it is in the 52 SUPER SERIES, there are just metres in it between new boats and old boats. We picked some good shifts. Vasco did some good work. Upwind we were not so sure about the right, we picked the nice shift to the left on the downwind and when you do that in this fleet it is always a nice jump forwards.

It is a great feeling to be back. It is great to be sailing here, it is like sailing with my second family, racing on these waters in the Mistral.”

TP52 Super Series 2013 (Photo by Max Ranchi)