Quantum Racing back in front
Quantum Racing goes into the final day of racing at the 52 US Championship in Miami with a lead of two points after rescuing a valuable third place from what proved to be one of the most tactically testing races yet. They took places down the final fluky run of Saturday’s only contest to establish slender advantage over rivals Azzurra as they contemplate a finale of up to three races Sunday.
A long, hot wait – drifting aimlessly off Miami South Beach for over two and half hours – was rewarded by a very taxing northeasterly breeze of 7 to 9 knots which contained big windshifts, subtle pressure differences and consequently many place changes through the seven boat US 52 Super Series fleet.
Gunther Buermann’s Hooligan crew proved true to a late night pledge to themselves, that they would win today, seeking ‘redemption’ after a problematic final race Friday. A succession of small mistakes culminated in a gybe in which the running backstay jammed, taking away their aftermost stanchion and dropping three crew into the water.
Gunther Buermann, Hooligan's owner-driver said: “Nothing could be sweeter, especially after yesterday’s disaster when we had three people in the water and we created the new Hooligan swimming team. We lost a couple of guys overboard when the runner did not go off. Today was wonderful and I have to give credit to Kenny. We are going up the weather leg and he said ‘This is pretty complicated’ but he figured it out."
With Kenny Read calling tactics, aided and abetted by strategist Tony Rey they sailed an accomplished, smart race to win their first race ever on the US 52 Super Series. Their precise second beat got them through early leaders Sled, and so Taksashi Okura’s crew was – for the second successive occasion – denied their own 52 maiden race win.
Read commented: “It was redemption for us for sure. Yesterday was quite humbling and we just make a bunch of errors as a group and literally paid for it. We broke the boat, we broke some people, and we decided late last night that ‘we are winning today, we were pissed at how we performed and we all wanted to do something about it. So I give the whole team a lot of credit. It would have been easy to pack it in, and have nothing to play for. But everybody was really into it. My brother Brad got us a great start and that made it a little easier.
"It was really shifty. When the breeze comes off the ocean like that, the Gulf Stream kind of stirs up the air and really makes it fluky and shifty. Maybe this is condition that we wish we sailed in a little bit more, this flat out boat speed stuff we have not quite proven ourselves in yet, but in these noce shifty conditions we did feel quite comfortable in. Tony Rey did a really nice job helping out on strategy. The second beat had shifted to the right and so it was learning a whole new group of numbers, when you went on to port tack, and we felt comfortable and I relied a lot on Tony Rey and he was giving a lot of good input, every once in a while you guess right and we finally guessed right!
"I was kind of part of the group that got the 52s going a long time ago and I have sailed around the world twice since I sailed a 52 so it is nice to be here. We have not really bonded as a team compared to other teams who have done this for a long time, so it is a learning experience but at the same time it is a lot laughs and a really good group of guys.”
Starting the day with a cushion of just one point, Azzurra’s game plan looked favourite early in the race, working the left inshore lane where there was more pressure. But unfortunately for them it was the opposite side which played out best. Until the second round they were back in seventh, but they too one place on the last run to keep themselves solidly in contention going into the last day.
“We had a plan to go left, there was plenty of breeze on the left, there was less current and I was very confident in it. It was forecast to go left. There were many reasons to go left. We were very very happy after the start. But that is part of the game, you have to trust in your plan but sometimes it does not work out. But tomorrow is another day,” noted Vasco Vascotto, Azzurra’s tactician.
It remains close throughout the fleet. Azzurra may be 12 points clear of third placed Interlodge but there are then just two points separating them, Rán Racing in fourth and Sled in fifth.
Juan Vila, navigator on Quantum Racing commented on their day: “For everyone it was a very difficult northeasterly, it was puffy with different pressure and subtle differences in the wind direction, the range went all the way from 35 to 60 and 70°. The trick was not to get too extreme and to get into the top three and so we are happy with that.
"The start was not really what we wanted but we quickly worked out that in this shifty breeze being one boat behind does not matter. Any small change in pressure can quickly make a big difference and at the mark roundings.
“There could potentially be three races tomorrow, which can be a quarter of the points of the championship and so it is still very open.
“In these shifty conditions you cannot focus on one boat, you have to sail the wind. If you looka t one boat you just end up going behind and behind. Terry’s main worry was always where was the pressure, the puffs and what was the best way to get to the top mark.”
1 Quantum Racing (USA) Doug DeVos (USA) 1,3,2,1,1,4,3 15pts
2 Azzurra (ITA) Pablo A Roemmers (ARG) 4,1,1,2,2,1,6 17pts
3 Interlodge (USA) Austin and Gwen Fragomen (USA) 3,5,3,3,5,3,7 29pts
4 Rán Racing (SWE) Niklas Zennström (SWE) 2,7,4,4,3,6,4 30pts
5 Sled (USA) Takashi Okura (USA) 6,6,6,5,4,2,2 31pts
6 Vesper (USA) Jim Swartz (USA) 5,2,5,6,7,5,5 35pts
7 Hooligan (USA) Gunther Buerman (USA) 7,4,7,7,6 8DNF,1 44pts
1 Quantum Racing 1,3,2,1,1,4,3 15pts
2 Azzurra 4,1,1,2,3,1,5 17pts
3 Rán Racing 2,7,3,4,2,6,4 28pts
5 Sled 6,6,6,5,4,2.2 31pts
4 Interlodge 3,5,4,3,6,37 31 24pts
6 Vesper 5,2,5,6,7,5 6 36 30pts
7 Hooligan 7,4,7,7,5,8DNF 1 39pts