[Source: 52 Super Series] A couple of frustratingly inconsistent opening days for Niklas Zennström’s crew prompted a serious debrief Tuesday night – the afterguard in particular concluding that they needed to return once again to doing the basics well, looking at their processes leading up to decisions rather than simply deconstructing and rueing mistakes.
Their reward came today when they lead through the leeward gate after the first short upwind-downwind circuit in a modest sea breeze and from there they built an initial margin which they held on to through the next three hours of racing, a series of upwind and downwind circuits in the west of the Bay of Palma.
The winning crew were pleased to have bounced back after what navigator Steve Hayles described on the dock as one of the most disappointing days he can recall with the team.
Today in the nine to 11kts of breeze they started well to track Phoenix around the top mark after the opening 2.2 miles beat. Then, on the heels of a few seconds of extra wind pressure they were able to gybe down inside the Brazilian flagged team to lead through the gate. And from there it was relatively plain sailing as Phoenix and Gladiator enjoyed a spirited tussle over second and third. On the finish line with the breeze having built to a pleasant 13-15kts it was Phoenix which prevailed for second with Tony Langley’s crew taking third.
If the battle for second and third had its moments, the duel between Azzurra and Quantum Racing proved especially frustrating for the circuit and regatta leaders Quantum Racing. Tactician Terry Hutchinson was adamant that he would have preferred that both focused on getting back to the top spots in the race rather than match racing each other in the cheap seats:
“That is not way would have sailed it. I don’t look back that much (after a race) and potentially that is a mistake. I am focused on winning the regatta not beating one boat. You have to ask them why they chose that strategy but it would not have been mine. I would have chosen to extend and try and get out in front and let our speed work. We are going quite well. That is how we got around them. They tacked on us probably six or seven times and every time they tacked on us we gained. Every time they sent us the wrong way we gained.”
Vasco Vascotto Azzurra’s tactician had a different view after holding on to finish fifth, holding back Quantum Racing to sixth:
“The result of the race might not seem good, and indeed a fifth place isn’t a good one, but we were victorious in the match race with our direct opponents, Quantum. It was important to control them even at the expense of losing positions to the rest of the fleet. It’s been two races that we finished ahead of them and everything is still possible both for us and the other competitors. Today we understood a lot of things that will improve our performance, we are upbeat, and if we do things the right way, we can make it.”
With their coastal race victory Rán Racing move back up to second overall, tied on 18pts with Azzurra. And for all that the sixth place for Quantum Racing almost doubled their morning aggregate, in effect they only lost a point of their overall lead which stands at five points after five of 11 races. Gladiator’s third leaves them on 19pts in fourth.
Hayles concluded: “ We had a good long look at ourselves after yesterday and we were mightily unhappy with what we achieved yesterday. It was a good sit down. A lot of it is going back to basics. Yesterday we concentrated on the afterguard totally. We have lots of different ways of debriefing, sometimes the guys are looking at the video and seeing how they do manoeuvres for example in the middle of the boat, but yesterday we were trying to understand the specific mistakes we made but why they happened. It is about the process you go through. There is no point in sitting down and saying we should have done X when we did Y. It is about sitting down and saying the style of our sailing was wrong, it was about the start and other things but certainly yesterday it did not work. I can’t think of a worse day with this team. It was nice to come back today, back to basics, we made sure the communication was very very strong, stating very basic obvious things, that is all we really set out to do.”
Standings BARCLAYS 52 SUPER SERIES – Copa del Rey MAPFRE
Overall after 5 races
1. Quantum Racing, USA, (Doug De Vos USA) (2,1,2,2,6) 13pts
2. Rán Racing, SWE, (Niklas Zennström SWE) (1,7,6,3,1) 18pts
3. Azzurra, ITA, (Alberto Roemmers ARG) (3,5,4,1,5) 18pts
4. Gladiator, GBR, (Tony Langley GBR) (DNF/8,2,1,5,3) 19pts
5. Phoenix, BRA, (Eduardo de Souza Ramos BRA) (6,3,3,6,2) 20pts
6. Paprec, FRA, (Jean Luc Petithugenin FRA) (4,6,5,4,4) 23pts
7. Provezza 7, TUR, (Ergin Imre TUR) (5,4,DNF/8,DNS/8,7) 32pts