Mistral strikes TP52 Worlds

Abbreviated coastal race held as wind pipes up to 35 knots off Porto Cervo

Friday October 7th 2011, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Italy

When the Mistral whistled in to break the deadlock at the top of the Audi TP52 World Championhsip off Costa Smeralda early this morning it was the local team on Azzurra which won, but a fourth place for Quantum Racing allows the current world champions to move one point clear in the title race which will be decided Saturday.

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team led at the windward mark on the first round, with already more than 25 knots of wind blowing and more threatening. The team which sails under the colours of the host club, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, were first to break to the right on the upwind and were able to lead Container with Audi ALL4ONE and Quantum Racing overlapped for third and fourth.

A small problem on the kite drop on Azzurra at the end of the testing downwind leg allowed Container through to lead up the second beat. Paramount Park Murcia gybed early on the rollercoaster ride of a run and picked up a huge gust which they rode down the left side of the run and were challenging for second before they lost control. After suffering mainsail problems pre-start Rán started late and retired after the first run.

Azzurra's tactician Vasco Vascotto managed to fight back to get control of the right in the brisk conditions, with good speed and power in the strong conditions, and were just able to cross Container at the top of the second beat. With the wind gusting over 35 knots the race team shortened the course at the top mark.

With Container second Audi ALL4ONE took third and Quantum Racing fourth, all four top boats finished within 20 seconds. Key for the Audi backed boats was their choice of smaller code 4 jibs.

In the overall standings going into the final day of racing Quantum Racing lead by one point ahead of Paramount Park Murcia on 15 points after they finished fifth today, with Gladiator now dropped to third on 16 points.

After starting at 0900 the fleet were back at the dock by 1010 with no further racing for the day, the Mistral hitting nearly 40 knots at times.

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team tactician Vasco Vascotto said: “It was important to win, for all the crew and the people here at the club, It was pretty windy really.  The retrieval system did not work first time and in these winds at these speeds if it does not work you are in trouble quickly. We had a good recovery – it was not an ideal manoeuvre but it worked and we got around the mark, staying close to Container and Jochen Schuemann on Audi ALL4ONE and that allowed us to get back on the second beat and go on to win. We are very happy, the first three days were very, very light breeze and even if we sailed well and did not make many mistakes, the boat is not so fast to help us in the light winds.”

“It really was a day for getting the boat around the course," said Ed Reynolds, Project Manager for Quantum Racing: "The light airs boats really struggled and there were a couple of sail handling things out there. It is always worrisome in these conditions, can you outlast everybody. It sounds boring but to be average today and get the boat around the course was good. We would really have liked that one more run because we might have been able to get another point or two, but you can never, ever question Maria the race officer. In all the years I have done this if she says you can’t sail in this then you can’t sail in it."

Ado Stead added: "It was a great decision to get out and race early and get a race in which puts less pressure on the last day. It is still very open and even Container with their second today are only four points behind us. For the light winds boats Gladiator and Paramount Park today’s conditions were more detrimental for them. We nearly changed to the number 4 jib and might have been better for us, but the key thing for us was at the top mark first time up when we were not rolling the red boat (Audi ALL4ONE) at the windward mark and that meant they really controlled us down the run. But we were right in there to finish. As we approached the line we were bow to bow with Container, but there was just no room to do anything, it would have been pretty punchy in these conditions.”

Audi TP52 World Championship - results after 5 races:
1. Quantum Racing (USA) 1+3+5+1+4= 14 points
2. Paramount Park Murcia (ESP) 4+2+1+3+5= 15 points
3. Gladiator (GBR) 3+1+4+2+6= 16 points
4. Container (GER) 2+7+3+4+2= 18 points
5. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (IT) 5+4+7+6+1= 23 points
6. RÁN (SWE) 6+5+2+5+ 8 (DNF)= 26 points
7. Audi ALL4ONE (GER/FR) 7+6+6+7+3= 29 points

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