Paramount Park Murcia edges ahead
The long wait for wind on the Costa Smeralda at the Audi TP52 World Championship was rewarded with enough for just one late afternoon windward-leeward race. A first win for the former Bribon team, now racing in the colours of new sponsor Paramount Park Murcia, headed up by Ignacio Triay, promoted the crew to step clear at the top of a tight leaderboard with a margin of just one point ahead of Tony Langley’s Gladiator.
There can be few more pleasant surroundings than the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to spend time waiting for a sea breeze to establish itself, but the race team made a good call to have the fleet out and ready for the race 3 start, which got away at 1530.
The late building thermal breeze proved to be difficult to read for the tacticians, keeping in the veins of pressure which pulsed down from the top of the course was key, while falling off the edge – out of the best breeze – either upwind or downwind meant losses.
Leaders after the first day, Gladiator kept on track when Chris Larson and crew salvaged a solid fourth place, passing Quantum Racing down the final run.
Their fourth keeps the British Gladiator crew in contention in second, while Quantum Racing’s fifth today leaves them third overall, two points off the lead with a bigger day in prospect Thursday when one windward-leeward and the 1.5 points premium coastal race are scheduled.
After today’s light breezes, a change is in prospect Thursday with some pre-frontal weather likely through the scheduled coastal race, ahead of Friday’s expected beefy Mistral winds.
“What is interesting now I think for the fleet is that you now have to look back to, I think Cagliari, in July for the last time we really sailed in strong breeze," cautioned Paramount Park Murcia's Ignacio Triay. "So that will be a challenge for everyone to get back into that mode smoothly. For us it will be a case of spending some time looking at the different modes and settings which worked for us earlier in the season. It will be interesting, for sure.”
Once again the light winds placed a big premium on fast starting, but the local team on Audi Azzurra Sailing Team compromised their race when they were over very early at the busy committee boat end of the start line, forced to re-start. But at the top of the first beat it was the Paramount Park crew who read the shifts at the top of the beat best and were able to lead round ahead of Rán, Quantum Racing and Container.
Able to sail the shifts and pressure from the front of the fleet, Paramount Park Murcia were 21 seconds clear of Niklas Zennstrom’s Barcelona Trophy-winning Rán. Second place pulled the Swedish flagged team up to fifth overall.
But with only two points separating the top three boats, Paramount Park Murcia, Gladiator and Quantum Racing, Thursday’s high stakes racing could be key.
Of the racing Paramount Park Murcia's Ignacio Triay said: “We had a good day, we had to wait a few hours. Our start was not very good but we started in the position that we wanted, a little bit late but in the position we wanted. We just got ahead of the bow of Rán at the top mark and from then on it was just good sailing, the boat is fast in these conditions and we had a good race although we could improve a little bit on the start. We are first now, but the windy days will arrive and our boat is not the fastest in the fleet on windy days, we know that.”
Chris Larson, tactician on Gladiator summed up their day: “We are pretty happy coming off the water today. We had one of the best starts ever for the boat, a bit conservative coming off the middle of the start line, but the unfortunate part was the right side coming in strong and we were kind of on the outside of that, but we were okay with that we were sailing a nice conservative race, then we salvaged a fourth getting Quantum Racing on the last run. Upwind and downwind the right was favoured, basically on every leg as long as you were in the vein of puffs you were making good gains. We gybe set after having a big lift on starboard coming into the windward mark, and so we gybe set. Quantum set and then they gybed underneath us and we rolled them because we had the puffs and they had to gybe out and they got lighter sooner. But everyone on our boat has been sailing really, really well. It is kind of a new team and we are sort of feeling our way round, the guys have done a super job getting the sails up and down we have really had three really nice races. Right now everyone is full of energy because we did well yesterday and had a solid race today. Success breeds success and hopefully we can come up with a good finish at the end of the event. Two races tomorrow, with 2.5 points on the table and light to medium in the first race and more than 15 in the second. I told the guys on the way if they knew they would be in second after the second day of racing they would be pretty darn happy.”
Ed Baird skipper-helm on Quantum Racing added: “As always sea breezes which build late in the day can build and be beautiful or they can build and then start to get crazy, and this one was a little shiftier than expected and full of pot holes. It was a pretty hard track to pick your way around. We did a reasonable job up the first leg and then it got a lot harder after that. We are disappointed that we were up in the 1-2-3 at the windward mark first time up but then faded after that and you don’t like to drop places after the first mark, as in any other sport. If they do two races tomorrow, windward-leeward and the coastal then that is a lot of points, but every day is a big day. But today it was a little frustrating not to end up with what better than we did.”
1. Paramount Park Murcia (ESP) 4+2+1= 7 points
2. Gladiator (GBR) 3+1+4= 8 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA) 1+3+5= 9 points
4. Container (GER) 2+7+3= 12 points
5. RÁN (SWE) 6+5+2= 13 points
6. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (IT) 5+4+7= 16 points
7. Audi ALL4ONE (GER) 7+6+6= 19 points