Copa del Rey Mapfre - Back-to-basics approach fruitful for Ran Racing

Ran Racing
Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Over a long, hot coastal race at the Copa del Rey Mapfre on the Bay of Palma, Rán Racing proved the value of their back-to-basics approach when they took the winning gun to return themselves to second place in the overall standings as the six day, 11 race regatta approaches its midpoint.

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.

Phoenix - 2014 Barclays 52 Super Series, 33rd Copa del Rey Mapfre
Martinez Studio/52 Super Series

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 focussed 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.'

Fleet - 2014 Barclays 52 Super Series, 33rd Copa del Rey Mapfre
Martinez Studio/52 Super Series

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 five 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

Steve Hayles GBR navigator Rán Racing (SWE): 'There is a lot to think about all the time here and there were a few opportunities to get it wrong but once we got out in front it is always going to be a lot easier. We had a good start, a good first beat and then it panned out really well. On the run we made a nice little gain and got inside Phoenix. There are just little bits of pressure out there. The time of day makes a big difference here. On the building part of the sea breeze compared with what happens later in the day is very different. Early on in the day the left side of the course is normally quite strong just the way the sea breeze evolves, effectively, and then the sea breeze tends to rotate to the right. So it favours the other side of the course later in the day. But sometimes it is just 20 or 30 seconds of good pressure. You just gybe at the right time. We were coming across to Phoenix and we just had 20 or 30 seconds of nice pressure and that was just enough to get inside them. We say it all the time. It just comes down to metres. Our speed was good and 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, 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 up what to do.

It is a tough battle when two boats of the quality of Quantum Racing and Azzurra get locked together in a battle, and the chances are then that they will go backwards in the fleet.

We are obviously chuffed to bits today and it gets us back in the game.'

Terry Hutchinson (USA) tactician Quantum Racing (USA): 'It was a tough day and with this course and this race we knew there was going to be a lot decided after the first run. That is basically what happened. We got a nice start and got rid of Phoenix, they tacked away. I would criticise the fact that we tacked probably about 30 seconds too early and just fell out of the breeze to windward that Rán stayed in and that was a big loss. And that got us back in traffic. From there we had a fairly hefty battle going with Azzurra. The first long beat that we had they rode us out to the left hand side. And we did really nice work to pass two boats, we passed them and Provezza. That is not way would have sailed it. I don’t look back that much 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. So our boat is going through the water quite well upwind. Downwind we are still feeling the year and a half that some of the boats have on us. But we have no excuses. On the second up with Azzurra about eight or nine lengths behind us we had decision to go to windward of the maxi boats or to leeward. And we chose to go to windward and we lost. It is frustrating. It is not terrible. But the nice thing, if you like, about getting your teeth kicked in is what we do better tomorrow. Ed and Warwick and Lorenzo and Brett have the boat going through the water really well so it is down to us. In saying that all the other guys have raised their games today, Phoenix was going really well today and the Gladiator, these are just conditions they just slide along quite nicely upwind and downwind. You can’t take anything away from how the others sailed, Rán sailed a great race today for sure.'

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