In the US 52 Super Series, winning five races from ten at Quantum Key West, Doug DeVos and the Quantum Racing team secured the first title of the new 2014 season.
Quantum Racing claim first title of 2014 52 Super Series at Quantum Key West Race Week
Starting Friday’s one final race of the series the 2013 season champions needed only a solid top four finish to win overall.
A steady third behind Azzurra and Rán Racing in the muscular 19-24kts NE’ly breeze and bouncy, short seas, ensured DeVos’ crew lift the Key West title by three points ahead of Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing team.
In the strongest breezes of the five day event, the task for Quantum Racing was made easier from the outset when both Sled and Hooligan were called over the start line early. DeVos crew elevated themselves to their strongest possible position as they lead around the top mark and down a fast, exciting downwind but Rán Racing came through at the leeward gate rounding, and were at the front on the second of three beats.
Sailing markedly better in the strong breezes in which they have historically always been at their best, Azzurra sustained their challenge down the second run. Sailing at least as fast and sometimes faster than Rán and Quantum that was a great platform from which to attack Rán Racing.
Working the right early they scored a better shift which saw them go bow to bow with the leaders for a matter of minutes upwind. The power of the right prevailed and by the finish line they had eased ahead to give the Italian flagged team – winners of the final regatta of 2013 - a confidence boost at the end of an event which has been too irregular for them. Strategist Francesco Bruni considers they were slowed badly in the first legs of the race, perhaps with a plastic bag or weed but when they hit their straps they were as fast as any 52 on the water: ' We made some good calls tactically it was a really nice race to win. We got back to Rán Racing metre by metre, to pass Quantum Racing was good and then the last upwind against Rán Racing the boat was going very well. We managed to keep the right and then just before the last lay line we had a piece of them, using starboard advantage to win the race.'
Tactician on the winning Quantum Racing Terry Hutchinson praised the whole team effort, dedicating their win to the fantastic support of their owner-driver DeVos, a key driving force for the 52 Super Series. Having come close last year when they lead into the final day only to suffer a costly jib breakdown winning this team doubtless feels sweeter. But Hutchinson pointed out that converting a fourth to a first in the first light winds race of the regatta was as valuable a contribution to their win there as any of the races: 'Early on in the piece we jagged a few.' Hutchinson smiled, 'If you say where was the regatta won it was probably won on the first race where we went from fourth to first up the second beat of the race. And today was a different day. Our plan was to stay close to Rán Racing and not give them any opportunities.'
Quantum Racing won the regatta by three points ahead of Rán Racing who in turn were three points up on Azzurra after the ten races.
Of the six boats racing, half the fleet won individual races. The two new teams to the 52 Super Series, Sled and Hooligan, had their moments of greatness and their really challenging times. But both teams finished with a better handle on their weaknesses and looking forward to the second regatta, in Miami in early March. In this fleet in the strong winds today any small error was heavily punished:
Hooligan’s Tony Rey, tactician and project manager summed up their enthusiasm:
'The results are not what we wanted, but I have just told the guys I have never felt so good about a team and yet finished so poorly. We made the most of the tools we had in the tool box. We managed to hit six crab pots, two in one race. We had a few kite shrimps at the leeward mark. We had a few tough moments but generally we improved enormously over the week. But the key thing is the owner is thrilled and can’t wait to get to Miami to improve the tools in the toolbox and we just can’t wait to get started against the best guys in the world.'
US 52 Super Series at Quantum Key West
Standings after ten of ten scheduled races:
1. Quantum Racing (USA) Doug DeVos (USA)1,1,1,6,3,4,1,2,1,3 Total 23pts
2. Rán Racing (SWE), Niklas Zennström (SWE) 2,2,3,4,1,2,4,1,5,2 Total 26
3. Azzurra (ITA), Guillermo Parada (ARG) 3,3,2,2,4,1,3,6,4,1 Total 29
4. Interlodge (USA), Austin Fragomen (USA) 4,5,6,1,2,3,2,3,3,4 Total 33
5. Sled (USA), Takashi Okura (USA 5,4,5,5,6,5,6,4,2,5 Total 46
6. Hooligan (USA), Gunther Buerman (USA) 6,6,4,3,5,6,5,5,6,6 Total 53
Terry Hutchinson, USA, tactician Quantum Racing, USA, 'Conditions were outstanding and the racing was great, everyone is so competitive and I think we won three of the days, Interlodge won a day and Azzurra won a day. It seemed a lot harder than the scoreline shows. The lobster pot incident really set us back, but beyond that we sailed well and hats off to everyone for the effort they have put in. Today we had some late calls and some really well executed boat handling in the middle and front of the boat, it was a real team effort. We sailed in these respective roles in 2011 and won here. Doug is a competitive guy, he is athletic and he pushes me, he absolutely expects a level as I do too and he knows there no harder critic on me than me, and that keeps everyone working hard on the boat. We keep moving forwards.
Azzurra always go well. And early on in the piece we jagged a few. If you say where was the regatta won it was probably won on the first race where we went from fourth to first up the second beat of the race. Today was a different day. Our plan was to stay close to Rán Racing and not give them any opportunities. We found ourselves in the lead at the top. At the leeward gate we just did not lay into the left hand gate, that is just the way things worked. Azzurra were always right there, it is a very good team and they have been doing this a very long time. They have been doing this for as long as we have and so it is a pretty polished group. I think their week was uncharacteristic for them.'
Doug DeVos, USA, owner-driver Quantum Racing, USA: 'We have been sailing here for so many years and a lot of times we have not even been close to the leaderboard, we love the event, we love the location and we love the sailing, and so it feels great to come back here and be able to sail with everyone and to do well. And here of course we are not just racing for the regatta but for the 52 Super Series and so of course every race matters. It feels good to win because it is about the team coming together, all the team put in so much, it is nice to be able to celebrate, but like in life never for too long because the next regatta is just around the corner.'
Niklas Zennstrom owner-driver Rán Racing: 'To finish in these conditions when the boats are just flying downwind is just fantastic sailing. We had a great day but Azzurra were just ahead on the finish line, but we went out today just wanting to make sure we sailed the best we could and make sure we had a good result, so to finish with a second is good. The differences are so small. For us when we look and debrief this regatta it will be the lows which are holding us back. Being OCS, over the start line yesterday and having to go back cost us, and we had another start which was not so good, you need to avoid those lows. We know we can win races, we know we can get the good results, but we need to avoid the lows.
Francesco Bruni, ITA, tactician Azzurra ITA: 'The boat was going very well in the second part of the race but we were really struggling in the first upwind, we still don’t know what was happening then, we think we had something around the keel, 10 per cent under performance, very slow. From the first downwind onwards the boat was going very well. We made some good calls tactically it was a really nice race to win. We got back to Rán Racing metre by metre, to pass Quantum Racing was good and then the last upwind against Rán Racing the boat was going very well. We managed to keep the right and then just before the last lay line we had a piece of them, using starboard advantage to win the race. We like the strong breeze and the breeze increased during the race, going from 20kts to 22kts and at times stronger. The windier it is the better this boat goes. Definitely Rán Racing made some changes to the boat. Last year they were superfast downwind and a little bit slower upwind, but this year they have stepped up upwind and downwind are not unbeatable downwind. Today was so much windier, we were on the number four jib and usually downwind Rán Racing were unbeatable in this downwind.
Ross MacDonald, CAN, tactician Sled USA: 'We learned a lot and improved every day which may not show on the results board but we feel we are getting more and more competitive as a team and working well. There are a whole bunch of small things to improve, to refine. There is nothing major, a few systems. We will have a few days practice before Miami and we will work on things then.
Tony Rey USA tactician Hooligan USA: 'The results are not what we wanted, but I have just told the guys I have never felt so good about a team and yet finished so poorly. We made the most of the tools we had in the tool box. We managed to hit six crab pots, two in one race. We had a few kite shrimps at the leeward mark. We had a few tough moments but generally we improved enormously over the week. But the key thing is the owner is thrilled and can’t wait to get to Miami to improve the tools in the toolbox and we just can’t wait to get started against the best guys in the world.
We were over the line early, then recovered, but were slow up the beat with a bag or some weed, but then had a great run and passed Sled on the run. At the leeward mark the kite came most of the way down and in other boats most of the way down would have been fine, but not in a TP52 when you are surfing at fifteen knots. A bit of the kite went in the water, under the boat and we had to send a guy in. That made a bit of a mess, we will rebuild our spinnaker and our egos and move on to Miami.'
52 Super Series