Team Azzurra Win Valencia Cup  (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

Team Azzurra Win Valencia Cup (Photo by Xaume Olleros/Superseries)

 

At the end Audi Azzurra Sailing Team glided serenely across the finish line of the one final race of the season in a gentle sea breeze and perfect September sunshine off Valencia to secure the overall 52 Super Series title.

When they started Race 8 of the Audi Valencia Cup, all that the team which races under the flag of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda had to do was simply cross that last finish line in any place to ensure the season-long title was theirs.

In so doing they also won the Audi Valencia Cup, counting five first places, a second, third and fifth. Their only regatta win of the four this season, Barcelona, Sardinia, Palma and Valencia, was achieved by a margin of seven points ahead of Jochen Schuemann’s Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One.

Niklas Zennström, the newly elected president of the TP52 class, steered Rán to a win this final contest of the season. With Quantum Racing finishing third, that was enough to give Zennström’s crew third step on the Audi Valencia Cup podium, and also third overall for the season.

The celebrations may have started early for the Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, having virtually wrapped up the title yesterday, but after seven years of trying the emotions and jubilation overflowed on the dock in front of the emblematic Veles e Vents building.

 

“We are very proud.” Grinned tactician Vasco Vascotto, “ It was a huge challenge, the standard is so high and so we are happy for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, for the Roemmers family (boat owners), for everybody involved it is such an important result.”

“But we need to start working tomorrow again, because I am sure that next year it will be harder and the teams will be ready to beat us. This is still a sport and so we have to always think not only how we won this year, but also how we lost in the past.”

 

Simon Fry, the British trimmer on board the winning Audi Azzurra Sailing team summarised:

“I think the team has really endorsed the ‘leave nothing to chance’ philosophy. I think we have just been a little more diligent. I think the boat preparation has been excellent. And I think that on top of that we had the human element of a really, really steely focus. It was ‘the time has come, we have to deliver’. We have had the hardware in the past and failed to deliver. So there was a bit of personal pressure on, and a bit of peer pressure, this was the year we had to deliver.”

Day 2 Valencia 52 Superseries (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

Day 2 Valencia 52 Superseries Marina Real Juan Carlos I, Puerto de Valencia, (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

For Quantum Racing, the American flagged team which won the class title in 2008 and 20011, letting the 52 Super Series slip from their grasp at the last regatta is a bitter pill to swallow, but skipper Ed Baird stated they will learn from the experience:

“ Every race is a practice race for the next one. You have to learn from every mistake you have made and add it to your bank of knowledge for the next. And we certainly have learned a lot this week.”

The 52 Super Series concluded its inaugural season with three different boats winning regattas, Quantum Racing, Rán and Audi Azzurra Sailing Team. The programme for next season’s 52 Super Series is already in place, starting in January in Key West.

Audi Valencia Cup

1 Audi Azzurra Sailing Team 15pts

2 Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One 22pts

3 Rán 25pts

4 Quantum Racing 26pts

5 Gladiator 32pts

52 Super Series final results

1 Audi Azzurra Sailing Team ITA 74.5pts

2 Quantum Racing  USA 79.5pts

3 Rán Racing  SWE 94.5pts

4 Gladiator GBR 125pts

5 Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One GER 132.5 pts

2013 Calendar

US 52 Super Series

Quantum Key West Race Week: January 20-25th

52 World Championships, Miami, March 5-9th

52 Super Series

Trofeo Conde de Godo, Barcelona, May 23-26th

Royal Cup, Ibiza, July 2-6th

Copa del Rey, Palma Mallorca, July 29th – Aug 3rd

Audi Week of the Straits, Porto Cervo, Sardinia September 10-14th

Quotes:

Vasco Vascotto, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team
“We are very proud. It was a huge challenge, the standard is so high and so we are happy for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, for the Roemmers family, for everybody it is an important result. And we need to start working tomorrow again, because I am sure that next year it will be harder and the teams will be ready to beat us. This is still a sport and so we have to always think not only how we won this year, but also how we lost in the past. It means a lot to me. This is part of my heart. We are still a young team in the sailing circles and we want to win more together. I have won other things but this is important to win because the team have been trying so hard for so long.”

Ed Baird, Quantum Racing: 
“Obviously we are disappointed. We never want to drop boats, we never want to do that. We are still learning and trying our hardest and I have full faith in the group here. One of the things that has gone on all week, is that despite how frustrating it has been to make decisions that seemed like they were the ones, and then have them go wrong, the group was always very positive and always fighting. I appreciate that from a team.

Adrian Stead, Rán Racing:
“We sailed the boat really well, we changed gears really well in the conditions. I think it was shifty enough and puffy enough that as long as you could be under the right breeze at the right time for longest, that gave you the speed and the advantage. We have come a long way. We have improved. We were weak in the light stuff an have improved there.”

Stephane Kandler, Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One:
“We are very happy with our season, we started late and with only little means. So we are quite happy to get two podiums over the season and won the Copa del Rey. So we are pleased to have done the season. Congratulations for the season to Azzurra who did a great job.”

Tony Langley, owner-driver Gladiator:
“It has been a good season for us. I am quite happy with the way things have gone and with the progress we have made. We had better results in Porto Cervo but we have been sailing the boat quite well. The other guys are coming after us now. We were tacked on three times today. We are doing things fairly right now.” 

“Today we had good start, a bad shift, and then we were back in it again. And in the end we finish by taking a scalp off a team with a few gold medals between them and that’s great, that’s quite something.” “We are packing everything up now and heading to the US for the first events of next season. We are already really looking forwards to Key West and Miami.”

VALENCIA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Audi Valencia Cup of 52 Superseries on September 22, 2012 at Marina Real Juan Carlos I, Puerto de Valencia, in Valencia, Spain (photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

 

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

The overall lead of the Copa del Rey IRC 1 division hangs in the hands of the International Jury on Thursday, after a collision between longstanding regatta leaders Audi Azzurra and provisional leaders Audi All4One resulted in counter protests. The pair protested each other after their boats collided during an incident that relates to buoy room during a crucial race on day four of the six-day regatta at Palma, Mallorca.

The pair was neck-and-neck on the approach to the mark when All4One narrowly passed on the inside of Azzurra and their yachts collided. The Italian/Argentinean team paid a penance, a 720 turn, and dropped from first to fifth.

At the race’s end each team notified race management of their intention to protest the other. The protest will be heard by the International Jury at the Real Club de Náutico later tonight.

The outcome could cause a major shakeup of the overall leaderboard on what was otherwise a victorious day for Audi All4One.

The team scored back-to-back wins thanks to the powerhouse partnership of America’s Cup and Olympic gold medallists Jochen Schüemann and Jordi Calafat, who proved invincible.

It is the third line honours win in two days for the on-form team, having won Wednesday’s coastal race.

The trifecta of victories provisionally moves the team to the top of the overall leaderboard on 19 points, edging them to a three point lead over longstanding leaders Audi Azzurra Racing Team with just two-days racing remaining.

But, with a protest pending and more racing to come All4One strategist Pascal Rambeau said it was too early to take too much confidence from the victories.

“There is still a long way, four races to go,’’ he said. “We have to take it one race at a time and stay focused and keep the momentum we have. It is competitive racing, today proves that.”

It should have been a day of celebration for Azzurra, as July 19 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first Azzurra yacht. Instead the team were commiserating their worst results yet, sixth and fifth on corrected time.

The bad form could see Azzurra lose the lead they have held for two-days and slip from a 5.5 point lead, to three point deficit in second place.

Provisionally Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One are the Copa del Rey IRC 1 leaders on 19 points, followed by Audi Azzurra Sailing Team on 22, Gladiator, 24.5, PowerPlay, 27.5 and Paprec Recyclage, 29.

More than 1,100 sailors are competing on board about 119 yachts, across seven divisions in the 31st Copa del Rey.  A maximum of 12 races will be contested across the six-day regatta that concludes on Saturday July 21. Copa del Rey does not count towards the overall 52 Super Series.

The penultimate day of racing will begin on Friday at 1300 local, 1100 UTC.

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

 

Rán Racing claimed the Royal Cup and their first overall victory in the inaugural 52 Super Series in a testing day’s racing at Palma, Mallorca on Saturday that victorious skipper Niklas Zennström described as being “as good as it gets”.

Zennstroms’s team surged to victory in a 30-plus northeaster at speeds in excess of 24 knots, finishing second across the line in the final race of the day to clinch the overall win.

World champions Quantum Racing finished second in the cup after they were forced to retire from the first of two races on Saturday, when they broke their headstay ram, headfoil and jib in the near gale force conditions.

The team’s shore crew sent an urgent dispatch of supplies to effect on water repairs between the two races. The crew successfully raced the clock and returned Quantum to the second race, but it just wasn’t their day.

Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One rounded out the Royal Cup’s podium, a result that pleased four-time Olympic medallist and twice America’s Cup winner skipper Jochen Schümann despite having entered the final race with a one-point lead.

 

Having won the first race today, All4One entered the final race at the top of the leaderboard with a total of 20 points, while both Quantum and Rán were just one point behind on 21.

Each team had crunched the numbers and knew exactly where they needed to place to clinch the coveted Royal Cup Challenge Trophy, but only Rán were able to execute their plan with success.

Zennström said the conditions in Palma Bay were challenging but very rewarding.

“These conditions are fantastic, you’re going downwind doing 24 knots, you’re doing nine knots upwind and still you’re doing boat on boat racing,” he said.

“Crossing the finish line and seeing Quantum ahead of All4One was just awesome, it’s as good as it gets. Quantum are really the class act, beating them today was really, really awesome. They’re hard to beat and that makes winning even sweeter.”

It was more a bittersweet day for Quantum’s crew, having entered the final day’s racing with a six point buffer and a lead they had held since the four day regatta started on Wednesday.

Tactician Andy Horton said the crew knew that their chances of clinging to their lead was compromised the minute they heard a massive “bang” when their headstay ram broke and they saw their jib tear in the opening nine minutes of the day’s first race.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,’’ Horton said. “But this is a great group of guys, there wasn’t anything said, it was just a freak accident. This is tight racing. You have to be good enough to win despite something like this happening.”

There was a surprise of a different kind for the crew on board Audi All4One, who exceeded even their own expectations to score third in the Royal Cup.

Schümann said being the “underdogs” helped his crew race under the radar, uninfluenced by the other teams’ intentions.

“We’re quite happy, finishing third is more than we expected coming here, but that’s what we dreamed of,’’ he said. “This is our first regatta together as a team. We really enjoy racing together and I think when you see the results getting better and better that reflects it.”

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team finished fourth in the Royal Cup, followed by PowerPlay, Gladiator, Provezza and Aquila.

In the overall 52 Super Series Quantum Racing leads with 53.5 points, followed by Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, 59.5, Rán Racing, 69.5, Gladiator, 93, Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One, 111.5, PowerPlay, 121.2, Provezza, 131.5, Aquila, 140.5 and Paprec, 150.5.

The teams are now turning their sights on 31st Copa del Rey where eight 52 teams will have a chance to race their grand prix yachts in a highly competitive event that won’t count towards the 52 Super Series points.

The next 52 Super Series point scoring event is the Valencia Cup, from September 19-22.

Ranking

  1. Rán Racing 23pts
  2. Quantum Racing 24pts
  3. Audi All4One 24pts
  4. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team 27pts
  5. PowerPlay 41.4pts
  6. Gladiator 44pts
  7. Provezza 47pts
  8. Aquila 56pts

 

TP52s in Royal Cup 2012 Palma, Mallorca ( Photo  © Jacaranda Marketing )

TP52s in Royal Cup 2012 Palma, Mallorca ( Photo © Jacaranda Marketing )

Defending champions Quantum Racing proved why they are the team to beat in the 52 Super Series after winning a dramatic opening day’s racing in the Royal Cup at Palma, Mallorca where costly crew errors proved just how close the competition is.

Quantum Racing claimed a commanding victory in the opening race and second place in race two to finish on three points on the first day of the four-day regatta to extend their overall lead in the 52 Super Series from three points to five.

Rán Racing are second in the Royal Cup with four points, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team are third with five points, followed by Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One, Gladiator, Aquila, PowerPlay and Provezza.

Quantum skipper and double America’s Cup champion Ed Baird said it was a tough day’s racing that was packed with plenty of wind shifts that came out of no where and put his crew’s recent lessons to the test.

“It was one of those races where the rich get richer, as soon as you were a little bit ahead everything became a little more obvious,’’ Baird said.

“We worked awfully hard all of last year, and this year, at trying to improve every little thing.

“It sounds so basic but the tacks, the gybes, they are better than they were three or four months ago. So are the starts, the straight line speed, the sails, the understanding of the mast and the communications, they’re all improving.”

It was a much tougher day’s racing for crews on board newcomer Provezza and British boat Gladiator, who suffered at the hands of errors that placed them second last and last respectively in race two.

Provezza struggled to come back after being recalled for jumping the start and Gladiator dropped from second to last when they lost their spinnaker overboard halfway through the race.

Gladiator skipper Tony Langley said his team’s severe penance for one error was a testament to the caliber of the class.

“It was all in the drop, we lost the string-line system and that was it,” he said. “At this level you cannot afford to make any mistakes.

“You make a small mistake and you’ll get spat out one place or two places, you make a medium mistake and you get spat out the back, but you make a mistake like this and you’re just completing the course for one point.”

Day two of the Royal Cup, hosted by Real Club Náutico de Palma, starts at 1300 local, 1100 UTC. Early predictions have teams expecting between 12 and 18 knots from the south-southwest.