Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing team proved their never-say-die fighting spirit on the Bay of Palma today when they twice made key gains in the final minutes of successive races to bring themselves within only three points of regatta leaders Quantum Racing going into the final day of the Copa del Rey Mapfre.
33rd Copa del Rey Mapfre - Ran Racing
If Rán’s 1,2 for the penultimate pair of raced proved their best yet this week - owner Zennström later declaring their gains against the benchmark Quantum Racing as ‘awesome’ - for the 2013 Copa del Rey champions Quantum it proved more frustrating.
Rán Racing pipped Quantum Racing on the finish line, surging on one wave to win the photo finish to Race 8, but Quantum’s tactician Terry Hutchinson was kicking himself for some choices on Race 9 as well which lead to their fourth place finish:
'We made a dog’s breakfast of those races. We turned a 1,2 at the first marks to a 2,4. So……it was just not our Christmas Day. There are some things we will do better.'
33rd Copa del Rey Mapfre - Hard at work onboard Zennstrom's Ran Racing
In effect Rán Racing halved Quantum Racing’s lead over Friday’s two windward-leeward races which were contested in the briskest seabreeze of the regatta so far, 13-16kts. The SSE’ly direction on the most easterly race arena placed Palma’s premium on winning the left of the course upwind and made the pin end start highly sought after.
At the first start it was Quantum Racing which accomplished this again, making their speed build in the final seconds count after the gun, whilst Rán – at the buoy itself – were slightly downspeed by comparison. Passing the first top mark Quantum Racing lead Tony Langley’s Gladiator with Rán in third.
Gladiator erred left on the downwind and lost to Rán Racing. But it was a combination of speed and finding a better strand of breeze down the final run which allowed Rán to close 20 or 30 metres on the leaders Quantum. And in a heart stopping final few metres the Swedish flagged crew made the better gybe on to one wave which allowed them to only just pip Quantum Racing to the finish gun.
Azzurra won the left side early on the first beat of the second race and were never challenged, going on to an important second win of the event for them, but while Quantum Racing dropped from second to fourth over the second round, the key for Rán Racing was their pipping Phoenix in the final 60 metres of the last downwind, and so trimming their deficit to Quantum by one more point.
In the stronger breeze, 14-17kts over the day, both of the top two team’s pointed to Rán Racing’s speed edge downwind as an important factor today:
'It is hard to ignore Rán Racing’s speed downwind,' Terry Hutchinson grimaced, 'They have sailed their way out of spots that we would not have sailed out of, just the difference in hull shapes and so on, that makes them quite slippery. That has been a standard thing since I have been racing against that boat. They use it as quite a powerful weapon and they do nice work understanding the mode of their boat.'
Wayfarer - one of the competitors in the first Rolex Sydney Hobart (1945).
The Rán Racing owner-driver commented: 'It was awesome. Quantum Racing is such a hard team to beat, so getting back a few points today gets us back in the game. We are well set up for tomorrow. We will be back out there fighting as hard as we can.'
And meantime Azzurra’s Vasco Vascotto reckons their comparative lack of speed off the start line is the foundation of some of their problems trying to match Rán and Quantum Racing.
Winners of the first regatta of the season in Europe, Azzurra have more of a mountain to climb at eight points off the overall leaders Quantum Racing.
'In the first three minutes after the starts we are just sailing very, very slow. We don’t know what is happening. That compromised the first race. It is not a nice week for us. But we are learning. We have to analyse why we are so slow three minutes after the start. That is the most important thing. We need to improve our speed to be competitive,' Vascotto concluded.
Standings Barclays 52 Super Series - Copa del Rey Mapfre, Palma, Mallorca.
Overall after nine races
1. Quantum Racing, USA, (Doug DeVos USA) (2,1,2,2,6,1,2,2,4) 22pts
2. Rán Racing, SWE, (Niklas Zennström SWE) (1,7,6,3,1,3,1,1,2) 25pts
3. Azzurra, ITA, (Alberto Roemmers ARG) (3,5,4,1,5,2,5,4,1) 30pts
4. Phoenix, BRA, (Eduardo de Souza Ramos BRA) (6,3,3,6,2,5,3,3,3) 34pts
5. Gladiator, GBR, (Tony Langley GBR) (DNF/8,2,1,5,3,4,4,5,7) 39pts
6. Paprec, FRA, (Jean Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (4,6,5,4,4,7,6,7,6) 49pts
7. Provezza 7, TUR, (Ergin Imre TUR) (5,4,DNF/8,DNS/8,7,6,7,6,5) 56pts
Niklas Zennström (SWE) owner-driver Rán Racing (SWE): 'It was great today. We were fighting really, really hard. We came out today wanting to get some points on Quantum Racing and we never gave up today. We also know in this wind condition we have a little bit of an edge downwind. So we just tried to sail our fast modes and pass a few boats. We crossed the finish line with Quantum Racing and we looked at each other and no one knew who had crossed the finish line. It was that close. We thought we had a chance to catch them. We were getting stronger and stronger. It was just about having a better gybe and just catching a wave. It was awesome. Quantum Racing is such a hard team to beat so getting back a few points today gets us back in the game. We are well set up for tomorrow. We will be back out there fighting as hard as we can tomorrow.'
Swede Caroline Sylvan defeating World #2 and fellow club member of the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club, Anna Östling.
Terry Hutchinson (USA) tactician Quantum Racing (USA): 'We made a dog’s breakfast of those races. We turned a 1,2 at the first marks to a 2,4. So……it was just not our Christmas Day. There are some things we will do better. It is hard to ignore Rán Racing’s speed downwind. They have sailed their way out of spots that we would not have sailed out of, just the difference in hull shapes and so on, that makes them quite slippery. That has been a standard thing since I have been racing against that boat. They use it as quite a powerful weapon and they do nice work understanding the mode of their boat. First race it was a tough one. When we came together we were ahead of them. But they executed a nice gybe and everything was still fine but they got on one wave and surfed in front of us. The next race we got around the top mark second. Through the bottom gate we had a big discussion about whether we could cross Rán and go to the right gate but we never had the discussion about where Azzurra was going and had we just said Azzurra are going straight in, right gate we would have taken the left gate. That is a straight, mental mistake on my part. I own that but tomorrow we will go out there and be better, because of it. But right now it is frustrating and angry. I would suspect that if we don’t raise our gain it is not going to be a happy ending. That is my assessment. I am pretty critical of my tactics today. But collectively as a team the guys are sailing the boat really, really well. So there is no criticisms there, we just have to raise our game a little bit.'
Vasco Vascotto (ITA) tactician Azzurra (ITA): 'We are not happy. It is good that we won the second race but I think we did a better race in the first one. In the first three minutes after the starts we are just sailing very, very slow. We don’t know what is happening. That compromised the first race. We did a good job to stay as calm as we did to recover two or three places. But that is the good point of the day. The second one was easier, nice start on the pin. We had a strong lee bow on Ran and Quantum forced them to bear away and so we gained the five metres that we needed to cross and from there it was another game. It is not a nice week for us. But we are learning. We have to analyse why we are so slow three minutes after the start. That is the most important thing. We need to improve our speed to be competitive.'
52 Super Series website