Interlodge relishes the light
Victory in the second race paired with a fourth leave the Fragomens' US team just one point ahead of a powerful trio of teams all resident on six points: Quantum Racing, Gladiator and Rán Racing.
With John Cutler calling tactics, Interlodge was quietly efficient in the difficult light airs, making good starts in both contests and showing a clear ability to knit together the best lanes of breeze and avoid the potholes. Often the middle of the course was where the wind folded, but overall it was a day when patience and an open mind were almost as valuable as boat speed.
Interlodge owner Austin Fragomen said: "We are pleased to be leading the regatta, because this is such a competitive group of boats. We are surprised to be doing quite as well as we are, but we are very happy with our first day. We had good starts, especially in the second race which we won. We made some good tactical calls, particularly right and then back and picking up the left shifts in the second race, that was a great call. John Cutler is a very easy guy to work with, very knowledgeable. It is terrific to sail with someone of that calibre."
Quantum Racing, winner last month in Barcelona, appeared to be right back into the same groove when she won the first race with a decent lead from the first windward mark. Interlodge rounded second, but then lost out to the advances of Gladiator on the second beat and then could not hold Rán Racing near the finish line.
Consistency proved difficult. The winners of race 1 struggled to repeat the same formula in the second race, in just the same way that Azzurra just could not find speed or favourable positioning in the first race. Fifth place was not the start that Guillermo Parada’s team wanted. Neither, in the next race, was fifth the result that Ed Baird and team would have chosen to partner their opening race win.
Potentially the quickest boat on the water was Tony Langley’s Gladiator. She made good progress in the first race, gaining a place on each leg to finish second. As she came away from the offset mark in second place at the top of the first beat of Race 2, she looked ominously strong but swung into penalty turns, judged to have impeded Azzurra as she tacked at the windward mark. But it is a measure of her team’s application, and her speed in the conditions that Gladiator was still able to return from a distant eighth upon completion of her penalty, to finish fourth. If the breeze remains light – as it is forecast to do – and she avoids further transgressions, Gladiator may be the boat to beat this week.
Chris Larson, tactician on Gladiator gave his take: "We had a good upwind leg in the second race but the judges gave us a penalty for tacking in front of Azzurra at the upwind mark which was a little unfortunate. It was a close call, it could have gone either way and we got back to fourth so that was a really good recovery. And we sailed really well in the first race for second. And we won the practice race yesterday so we are going well in the light airs. We are working super well together. Tony is doing a great job driving. If we have light air we can be in it for the rest of the week hopefully.
"The judges gave us the penalty. We were crossing Azzurra no problem but ended up tacking, we were on the port tack layline, so we ended up tacking around the boat and they did a ‘hollywood’ and moved their bow up 30°, and that was enough for the judges to give us a penalty. We were never overlapped and there was two or three metres between our transom and their sprit. That is what you get for a hollywood and for flying the red flag.
"We are quick in the light air for sure. We gained back a little bit. We had good pressure on the right side of the course going downwind, we had a good rounding. It got very light in the centre of the course and we punched left with Quantum and came back in in good pressure on a lefty and we were right behind the pack and then downwind we were able to pass Quantum Racing and Paprec downwind. So we went from a sixth to a fourth downwind which is pretty nice.
"It is pretty crazy out there. The past two days I thought I have a pretty good feel for what has been going on, but it is pretty skittish. But I have made some calls and it has been pretty good so far and hopefully that continues."
But so too the current holders of the Royal Cup, Rán Racing was the most regular team today, like Gladiator she was taking places consistently rather than losing them. Their two third places also marks her out as a potential regatta winner.
Adrian Stead, tactician on Rán Racing commented: “We are pleased with two third places. We felt we were moving forwards in both races. First race coming into the top mark we were touch and go whether we crossed for the lead but that didn’t work and so we decided that the conservative thing is to follow people round and so we rounded seventh but got a third out of that race. In the second race we went round sixth and got a third. It is tricky. It is exactly what we thought. It is slightly unpredictable, there are holes, there is pressure coming in. You have to make the most of what you get. We are pleased to be one point off the lead. And we feel like are in good shape for the regatta. Andy Hemmings our downwind trimmer is looking around before the start. He is our up the rig man, Jules Salter is very strong tactically as well as being a good navigator, and Tim Powell, we have all sailed together so much, we are happy to listen to everyone’s input. And we are very open minded about this venue, as you have to be here. The breeze is soft and switching around a lot and so it is what you make of it. So you have to keep an open mind."
G Parada, skipper-helm on Azzurra added: “It was a very challenging day, there were plenty of wind shifts and also difference in wind strength which made the situation change every 20 seconds, so its a matter to be patient and wait until the proper time to do things. I think in the first race we were a bit in a hurry, but in the second race we were a bit more patient in order to wait for the right time to do things, in these conditions all the boats are very similar, I think that the newer boats suffer a little bit more in the light stuff, for sure we were not the quickest out there but all in all it was a good day, we were all bunched together so it is stil wide open with plenty to go. We need to keep an open mind and learn in order to go quicker and avoid mistakes in the next couple of days.”
Interlodge had the edge today but only two points cover the top five boats. Azzurra in fifth are very much in touch after Day 1 in Ibiza.
In the expectation that winds will be light starts have been brought forward to midday Wednesday.
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza results
1 Interlodge, USA, Austin and Gwen Fragomen, 5 pts (4,1)
2 Quantum Racing, USA, Ed Baird 6 pts (1,5)
3 Gladiator, GBR, Tony Langley 6pts (2,4)
4 Rán Racing, SWE, Niklas Zennström 6pts (3,3)
5 Azzurra, ITA, Alberto Roemmers, 7pts (5,2)
6 Paprec, FRA, Jean-Luc Petithuguenin 13pts, (7,6)
7 Provezza, TUR, Ergin Imre, 14pts, (6,8)
8 Rio, (USA) Manouch Moshayedi, 15pts, (8,7)