2014 52 Super Series - Azzurra begins with a victory

by Azzurra 
Azzurra begins with a victory - 52 US Championship 2014
2014 52 Super Series - A bullet and a fourth place for Azzurra on the opening day of the 52 US Championship, held in Miami until Sunday, March 9th. The competitive level of the 52 Super Series has never been as high as in this season.

Azzurra had closed the first event of 2014, held in Key West in January, with an auspicious victory in the last race. It was therefore important to start on the right foot and that was what took place. While the fourth place in the first race left a bit of sour taste in the mouth, Azzurra's crew immediately redeemed it with a victory in the second, hard-fought, race.

The Race Committee fired the gun for the first two races of the 52 US Championship, counting as well as the second event of the US 52 Super Series, in which seven TP52's take part. The competitive level has further gone up thanks to the continued sail development and the incorporation of big-name sailors that reinforced the teams. As a result, a ski accident of Interlodge's owner sees the helm being passed into the hands of a certain Dean Barker, while Hooligan called upon Ken Read to call tactics. Vesper, freshly-optimized, showed an impressive pace downwind, finishing second behind Azzurra in the second race.

The forecast that called for a southerly light breeze, between eight and 12 knots, proved correct. The first race was marked by a fierce fight between Quantum and Ran, finishing first and second respectively. An equally-tough battle took place between Azzurra and Interlodge that alternated positions while tacking. In the last run Interlodge managed to roll Azzurra, being slightly favored as an IRC wild card, and took third place, ahead of Azzurra that finished fourth.

In the second race, a thrilling battle, the yacht of YCCS fought strenuously with Quantum: once the Americans were overtaken while approaching the windward mark, Azzurra stretched her advantage, fighting off Vesper's comeback in the run, that crossed the finish line in second, half a boatlength ahead of Quantum, relegating them to third place. Hooligan scored an excellent fourth place while Ran gets stuck into a disadvantageous seventh place. Azzurra ends the day in second place, a mere point behind the Americans on Quantum.

Racing resumes tomorrow with the first start scheduled at 12:30pm local time, 17:30 UTC or 18:30 CET. Races are streamed live with Virtual Eye and English commentary on website.it while real-time updates directly from the race course are posted on Azzurra's Facebook page and Twitter account.

Quotes

Guillermo Parada, skipper: 'It was a good start in what concerns our score although there are still a few things we should and will do better. I'm happy because we were working on our boat speed under these conditions and it seems we found something that makes us go a bit faster. This will allow us to sail with more confidence and if conditions remain as they are we will have a good week, so we are happy with this first day.'

Francesco Bruni, strategist: Francesco Bruni, strategist: 'We started on the right foot and even if Quantum are a point ahead of us I wouldn't worry about it. In the first race we wanted the right but that cost us a boatlength on the line and then it turned out that side wasn't really favored. In fact, I believe that they found slightly more pressure on the left, something that forced us to follow them. We were then rolled by Interlodge, it isn't easy fighting these boats that are a bit powered up because you don't know when they will fire up the turbo. However, this makes the championship even more competitive and interesting and you can't afford even the slightest error or you are thrown to the back of the fleet.

In the second race we had an excellent start on the right which paid off the way we expected. With Quantum on the right and close to us, we got well away from the rest of the group. Thanks to Vasco's skillful management of the tacks, we were able to overtake them in the last stretch of the first beat. Still, we weren't able to get rid of them until the last run, where Vesper showed excellent speed and sneaked in between us and them. With the new boats that will arrive and the current ones being optimized, the 52 Super Series is seeing its level increase even further, to say nothing of the big names that joined the field.'

Standings after two races:
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.

52 Super Series – 2014 Racing Schedule:
20 - 24 January – Quantum Key West Race Week
5 - 9 March - 52 US Championship, Miami
20- 24 May - Rolex Capri Sailing Week
10 - 14 June - TP52 World Championship, Porto Cervo
4 - 9 August - Copa del Rey, Palma de Mallorca
10-14 September – Royal Cup, Ibiza
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