Strong start for Quantum
Posting a race win and a third place from two light wind races off Miami’s South Beach Quantum Racing earned themselves an overall lead of one single point after the opening day of the 52 US Championship, the second regatta of the 2014 US 52 Super Series.
In streaky, gentle breezes which only troubled double figures for a short period in the second race, Quantum Racing – with Ed Baird on the helm – proved adept at reading the changeable wind pressure. A pair of solid starts were the foundations for tactician Terry Hutchinson to build from the critical first windshift.
In the first race Rán Racing held the early lead before Quantum Racing was able to roll ahead of her on the first downwind. In the second windward-leeward 52 Super Series champions were also, again, one of the two boats to reap the benefit of the key first shift. Azzurra just managed to lead around the top mark first, while Jim Swartz’ Vesper sailed a great run getting up to second.
Terry Hutchinson tactician on Quantum Racing commented: “Both races were good. We went out with the objective of coming off the water with six points or less and we came off with four points. So from that regard we are pretty good. First race we had a pretty good race going with Rán Racing. We were able capitalise when they set a little too deep at the top mark first time and we rolled them. It was not a straightforward race. Second race we executed a good start and going out to the right side in a big left hand shift and both boats – us and Azzurra – made nice gains on the group. It was then who beat who to the top mark. They tacked at a really good time for us to make a hard decision and we chose to get to the right hand side of them looking for a right hand shift which materialised but it went a little light and fluffy just for about 50 seconds with them to leeward of us and they might a nice gain. From the top a big right shift and Vesper is going about two knots faster downwind than the whole fleet downwind and so it is going to be tough to keep them behind us if we get into marginal planing conditions. They sailed a quite a good race and you can see the improvements to their boat. Big picture, though? A great day, hats off to our guys on board for managing their way through a difficult day.”
The Miami race course lived up to its reputation, delivering light, difficult to read breezes which were often accompanied by an awkward, slightly choppy sea. If Quantum Racing came ashore to a sunny afternoon on the docks of Miami Beach Marina with an air of quiet satisfaction, Azzurra’s tactician Vasco Vascotto acknowledged that theirs, too, had been a good opening day but he was kicking himself for a late call on the final downwind of Race 1 which he felt had handed a cheap point away to Interlodge.
That the blue Yacht Club Costa Smeralda boat finished the day one point behind the regatta leaders clearly irked Vascotto. But, for certain, their win bolstered confidence on Azzurra, even if their lead evaporated very quickly as they came under pressure from Vesper as their closed the finish line.
Vascotto recalled: “I did not make a good communication on one gybe and on that we lost one point that is important at the end of this day. The second one the plan was to go right and to start to windward. It was a good call and we had the start that we wanted, the speed was okay and so we had a quite good day. That first is important for us.
"Miami is an unpredictable place. You have to sail with what He gives you….and you need to make quick decisions as the conditions are always changing. Usually I am good at that, but sometimes you make mistakes. You have to be patient when you have a bad result and try to save every point. That is the reason why I am a little disappointed in myself because I lost a point for not communicating when we were in a match against Interlodge.”
Consistency proved frustratingly elusive for Rán Racing which led the first race and went on to take second, but they found themselves out of phase with the key shifts on the second race to finish seventh, lying fifth overall after the two races.
Tony Rae, grinder on Vesper said: “It was not good for us in the first race, a lot better in the second. It is such close racing that is one thing doesn’t go your way you are in the pack, making extra tacks. That was the story a bit in the first race, you are dipping a couple of boats and cant quite get your pace up. We struggled a little around some of the marks and then had a little rip in the chute and recovered pretty well. Jim did a pretty good job and it was a good day overall.
"We had nice pressure on the run in the second race and it just felt good. We just kept chipping away. Like all these series it is about trying to stay out of trouble and not have too many shockers.
"It is interesting because with all the changes it is like a new boat to the regular guys on board, and with all the changes with a new keel and rig, it is a learning curve how the boat feels and weight fore and aft. There is a lot to learn and a lot to gain. That chop is not easy either. On starboard it was pretty lumpy at times and in the light with pressure up and down, it was about keeping the boat powered up and trying to make it feel good for Jim driving, that is a big part of it.”
1 Quantum Racing (USA) Doug De Vos 1,3 4pts
2 Azzurra (ITA) Pablo A Roemmers (ARG) 4,1 5pts
3 Vesper (USA) Jim Swartz (USA) 5,2 7pts
4 Interlodge (USA) Austin and Gwen Fragomen (USA) 3, 5 8pts
5 Rán Racing (SWE) Niklas Zennström (SWE) 2,7 9pts
6 Hooligan (USA) Guenther Buerman (USA) 7,4 11pts
7 Sled (USA) Takashi Okura (USA) 6,6 12pts