Ran Racing holds fast
Rounding off a long day on the sun drenched waters off Miami’s South Beach with their fourth race win from seven starts, Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing lead the Gaastra 52 World Championships by four clear points going into the final racing day.
Today Zennström’s team was, again, the best scorer of the day with its 4,3,1 for the three windward-leeward contests which were sailed directly off South Beach in testing 7-12 knots winds.
With two different breezes fighting for supremacy, one offshore and one closer to the beach, the balance of power changed all the time through the afternoon but Rán Racing’s tactician Adrian Stead was on top of the game throughout.
The hallmark of a true world champion is as much their ability to climb through the fleet from a lowly early position and convert it to a useful score as the ability to win races. Rán Racing achieved that in the first race. Sixth at the top mark first time up, she was unfortunate to lose third to Quantum Racing in the final stages of the last run.
Rán’s fourth race win of the series came with a text book start which allowed them to gain early control of what proved to be the favoured right side of the course where the wind pressure was strongest.
Stead cautions firmly that there is still potentially 30% of the regatta left. Although they have four points in hand, their job is far from done, especially considering the winds are due to exceed 20 knots: “We are achieving our goals of being in the top three each day for the day every day and so we go in to tomorrow with a very good chance along with Azzurra and Quantum.
"We made a couple of changes to the boat overnight which we are pleased with. I think tomorrow we will see different conditions again, slightly more wind pressure – three more races – that is still 30% of the regatta still to go. We are all taking our chances. But being able to dig yourselves out is important to convert a fifth to a third, a sixth to a fourth. If you feel strongly about something in this fleet you have to go for it and go out and win races.
“We are pleased with how we are sailing. It is the best we have sailed since the Royal Cup last year, so hopefully we can round it off with a good day tomorrow.”
Both of Rán’s main rivals had one weighty score apiece today. Azzurra’s fifth – from the second race – and Quantum Racing’s sixth in the third, allowed Zennström’s team some breathing space. Azzurra is four points adrift of Rán, while Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing is now eight points off the lead.
The message from both Azzurra’s skipper Guillermo Parada, and Quantum Racing’s Ed Reynolds is that they need to come out Saturday and sail their own races, look for race wins and not be unnecessarily distracted by other boats.
Parada said: “It was a tricky day and I think the results show that the positions of the boats are changing in every race. We did not manage to get the results that we would have liked but we are still in second position and we have still three races to go and so we are looking to make it at least as far as we can with Rán. I think we need a little more detailing and have more of plan what we are doing on day like today. Trying to sail looking at the other boats is a little bit difficult and I think we need to go out tomorrow and win races and forget about the other boats. We need to make points and go for wins.”
While Reynolds adds: “This is one of the tougher days we have had. Never say never but kudos to Rán Racing. Overall we don’t think of Rán as a boat which, when it gets lighter, it can just use its speed. They sailed incredibly well. They are all over it. Our plan tomorrow is to come out and sail our own races. Hopefully we get all three races in. It is do-able. It’s a big, big gesture, but I like our group. We just seemed to on the outside of every shift on that last race. It was a little a frustrating because we have worked so hard on our downwind speed. Everybody on the boat is ecstatic that we are going so well. We have some of the best sailors in the world but they had a bad day.
There were two completely different breezes and there is a lot of timing in which side is going to come in strong. The left side just seems to suck you in. It looks positive, it looks positive and then it crashes and the right comes in strong up at the top. If you bailed of the left hand shift early and could get across the pack before the right hander came in then you were in good shape. Our positioning off the starts did not give us the option to do that. We did not sail well."
Race wins in this fleet are not exclusive to those lying in the top three overall. Jim Swartz’s experienced Vesper crew won the second race today following on from Tony Langley’s triumph in the first race. Indeed Langley’s Gladiator looked to be on course for a great day after a third in the next race, but they had to take a penalty in the last heat which resulted in an eighth.
1 Rán Racing (Zennström, SWE) 17pts (7,1,1,1,4,2,1)
2 Azzurra (Roemmers, ITA) 21 pts (1,2,3,5,2,5,3)
3 Quantum Racing (DeVos, USA) 25pts (3,4,2,3,3,4,6)
4 Gladiator (Langley, GBR) 29pts (2,6,5,4,1,3,8)
5 Vesper (Swartz, USA) 30pts (5,5,7,2,6,1,4)
6 Interlodge (Fragomen, USA) 37pts (4,7,4,7,5,8,2)
7 Gaastra-Pro (Blees, NED) 46pts (6,8,6,8,7,6,5)
8 Rio (Moshayedi, USA) 47pts (8,3,8,6,8,7,7)
Photos from Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com