Victory for Team USA
Both boats claimed their fourth bullet of the series in today's seventh and final race to leave them 11 points clear of Team Italy. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team and Team Italy's Soto 40 Alegre took a fourth and a second place respectively today to retain the second place overall while the British team of Tony Langley's Gladiator and Tony Buckingham's Soto 40 Ngoni took third.
Quantum and Iberdrola took the top prizes in their respective classes.
The light air that has characterised the week's racing in Porto Cervo prevailed once again today and only one windward-leeward race was held for each fleet in approximately 6-7 knots of breeze from 060°.
Ed Baird helming Quantum Racing demonstrated his renowned match race skills when he all but closed out regatta leaders Audi Azzurra Sailing Team on the start line of the final race to dispatch the home favourites to a difficult fate. Going on to take a final winning gun by a comfortable margin, the program which won the 2011 TP52 World Championships on these same Costa Smeralda waters secured their second successive trophy regatta win on the 52 SuperSeries.
The one key move, in the final 20 seconds before the start, shutting the door at the busy, sought-after committee boat end of the start line, was typically assured by Baird.
On the very right-sided course in a modest sea breeze there was, unfortunately, no way back for the Azzurra team which started the final race with a lead of just one point over Quantum Racing.
Ed Reynolds, Quantum Racing Team Director said: “Today was a day when we needed our driver to take control of the race from the very beginning and Ed did an amazing job. 15 seconds after the start I was thinking it looked good for us, it would be difficult for Azzurra to get back. We have won two regattas but we are still almost tied. It is going to be nerve racking all season long. The Azzurra guys are so good. In tight situations there was a couple times this week where we thought they’re done, we’ve got them’ they just got out of it and came back."
Finishing fifth today Azzurra finish second in the regatta, three points behind Quantum Racing, ahead of Gladiator in third, Rán fourth, Paprec Recyclage fifth and PowerPlay sixth overall.
Simon Fry, trimmer on Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, said: “To be polite I’d have to say we are disappointed. I am sure we will debrief it, but the start did not go as we wanted. I am not sure if the geometry was not what we thought, or if there was a little more current pushing us on, from a call of them not being able to shut the door on us, to he could definitely shut the door on us, so then we were on the back foot on a right hand race track. I think possibly you would say we could have tacked under them and then would have been at no risk, an even start, and if you are still in it at the weather mark you can fight on, so maybe a little bit of a risk management lesson. Over the period we have learned a lot about sailing the boat in the light, but now we are going back to Palma, where the boat lives and we have all sailed a lot, so here is hoping!”
The French team on Paprec Recyclage, led to the windward mark today ahead of Quantum, but acceded to the champions on the first run. But Stephan Neve and his team took great pleasure in their second place finish, atoning somewhat for their error in yesterday's coastal race.
Without doubt the French crew have proven conclusively that the IRC-optimised boats with a largely amateur crew – some of whom have sailed together for more than 10 years – can be very competitive in this 52 SuperSeries fleet on a relatively modest budget on the boat which won the 2007 world championships in its launch year. They, and Peter Cunningham’s PowerPlay were always in the mix.
Costa Smeralda has again proven a happy hunting ground for Gladiator, the British crew of Tony Langley. They finished third overall for the regatta, only once scoring in the lower half of the fleet.
Tactician Chris Larson explained: “Third overall for us, I think we are all going away pretty happy with what has happened this week. Luckily we have had some light air which has been good for the boat, we did pretty well, we stayed consistent and had good finishes. We had one bad race which was pretty much my fault. But in general, everyone did a really good job, we are coming together more and more as a team as time passes. I think Tony is getting more and more time on the helm and is getting more confident in the instructions that I am trying to pass along, like sailing narrower ranges with the boat speed and true wind angles in the light winds, he is getting more confident and accustomed to what we are asking him to do and as that happens the boat’s performance increases. It is a good thing. 13-14 knots and under that we are competitive."
Trailing Iberdrola in the Soto 40 fleet were Andres Soriano's Alegre and Ngoni. Second place in today's race was enough to ensure second place in the class overall for Alegre ahead of Pedro Mendonça's Bigamist.
Antonio Piris Turner, tactician aboard Iberdrola Team said: "The week was fantastic, there was a bit of a lack of wind, very light but it was great to win in conditions which can be considered extreme because of being so light. It is always special racing in Porto Cervo, there is a great atmosphere and a lot of tradition linked to the Sardinia Cup so it is a very nice regatta to have under your belt."
YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo: "These two highly competitive classes - the TP52s which are regulars on our waters and the Soto 40s racing here for the first time - have made the Audi Sardinia Cup a spectacular event. Special thanks must also go to the Race Committee for getting in seven races in difficult conditions and, of course, to our title sponsor and official automotive partner of the YCCS Audi."
Audi Sardinia Cup - team results
1. USA: Soto 40 Iberdrola Team (3/3/1/1/1/4,5/1=14.5) - TP52 Quantum Racing (1/1/3/1/3/4,5/1=14.5) - total 29
2. Italy: Soto 40 Alegre (1/1/5/2/4/7,5/2=22.5) - TP52 Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (3/2/2/4/1/1,5/4=17.5) - total 40
3. Great Britain: Soto 40 Ngoni (5/5/2/5/3/3/3=26) - TP52 Gladiator (2/3/1/2/5/3/2=18) - total 44
4. Sweden: Soto 40 Black Pearl (4/2/3/4/2/6/5=26) - TP52 Ràn (4/4/4/3/2/7,5/5=29.5) - total 55.5
5. Cayman Islands: Soto 40 Bigamist (2/4/4/3/5/1,5/4=23.5) - TP52 Powerplay (5/5/5/5/4/6/3=33) - total 56.5
1. Quantum Racing 1/1/3/1/4/4,5/1=15.5
2. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team 3/2/2/4/1/1,5/5=18.5
3. Gladiator 2/3/1/2/6/3/3=20
4. Ràn 4/4/4/3/2/7,5/6=30.5
5. Paprec Recyclage 5/5/5/6/3/10,5/2=36.5
6. Powerplay 6/6/6/5/5/6/4=38
Soto 40 results
1. Iberdrola 3/3/1/1/1/4,5/1=14.5
2. Alegre 1/1/5/2/4/7,5/2=22.5
3. Bigamist 2/4/4/3/5/1,5/4=23.5
4. Ngoni 5/5/2/4/3/3/3=25
5. Black Pearl 4/2/3/5/2/6/5=27