In the practice race for the Royal Cup, the third event of the 52 Super Series, Azzurra Sailing Team came in second – just behind Ran, after an enthralling battle with Quantum who took third. From tomorrow onwards, all the points will be in play for the best teams in the circuit, with two new boats also on the start line.
The new 52 Super Series circuit has seen rapid growth in the number of competitors, a demonstration of the vitality of this Class among the top professionals in the sport of sailing. Eight teams are in Palma competing for the Royal Cup, which officially commenced today with a practice race and concludes on 14 July. The 52s will then stay on in Palma for the Copa del Rey, although it is not part of the 52 Super Series. In addition to the Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, the teams in Palma include: Quantum Racing, Ran, Gladiator, Audi All4One, Powerplay, Aquila and Provezza.
This is the first time that the Royal Cup Challenge Trophy will be contested by the 52s. This prestigious Bulgari designed trophy was donated in 1995 by King Harald of Norway, Pasquale Landolfi, Willi Illbruck and Yannis Costopoulos as a challenge trophy for IMS50 racing, which at the time was the world's premier level rating class. Past winners of the Royal Cup include Landolfi's Brava Q8, as well as Peter de Ridder's Mean Machine. This link from the traditions of the recent past to today is testament to the 52 Class.
'We had a good practice race today,' said Tactician Vasco Vascotto. 'The conditions were shifty and we saw a few changes in position among the fleet. We started well, on the side we wanted, and maintained second place behind Ran, protecting our lead from the competitors behind us. We'll begin this week of racing with a good place in the rankings and our intention is to maintain our strong performance, possibly improve and overtake our competition.'
Vasco, a passionate sportsman, also extended his thoughts to Pietro Sibello who was denied a place at the Olympics: 'I want to express my strong support of a young man who has always been at the top of the 49er Class, who has given so much to Italian sailing, and put so much effort and energy into representing Italy in Weymouth. This decision seems odd given what happened and it needs to be investigated further as to why they did not want to attest to his actual physical condition. The case seems to have been treated without courage, which is a bit embarrassing.'
by Giuliano Luzzatto
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6:53 PM Tue 10 Jul 2012GMT
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