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Audi 52 Super Series Sailing Week at Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Overall

by 52 Super Series 28 Sep 2019 13:25 PDT 24-28 September 2019

Azzurra secured their fourth 52 Super Series championship title today as they played out a dream scenario. On their own home club's waters in the north of Sardinia on the last day of the closest and most competitive season in the eight year history of the world's leading grand prix monohull circuit the Roemmers' family's team, which races for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, won the 2019 championship.

After a spirited head-to-head against Platoon, which spanned three, intense, three-race days, Azzurra clinched the 2019 title with one race to spare. Competing in perfect, champagne sailing conditions - 20 knots of northwesterly wind and sparkling September sunshine - a smart solo move on the final downwind of the second race today allowed them to finally put enough points on Harm Müller-Spreer's German-flagged rivals to finally render the emblematic YCCS crew uncatchable.

Lead by Argentine skipper-helm Guillermo Parada with compatriot and long-time friend, Olympic champion Santiago Lange calling tactics, the Azzurra crew add to the 52 Super Series season titles won in 2012, 2015 and 2017 and draw back level, at four titles apiece, matching the record of 2018 champions Quantum Racing who today finished the season in third, just two points behind Platoon.

The core of the successful Azzurra crew have been together for more than five years, the team philosophy being to minimise line-up changes. After finishing fourth at the opening regatta in Menorca in May, time and again they seemed to come painfully close to regatta victories, successively in Puerto Sherry, in Cascais and again at last month's Rolex TP52 World Championship at Puerto Portals. In Andalucia, Puerto Sherry they were second by one point behind Provezza, denied by only few seconds. The story repeated in Portugal in July where a couple of tiny seconds - a metre - allowed Quantum Racing the win. And then at the end of the Mallorcan event last month there were just two points between them and new world champions Platoon.

Each time Parada has said he would trade the transient pain of missing out for the lasting joy of lifting the 52 Super Series trophy tonight in their own home yacht club, and for all that the 2019 title victory would mean for the team's owners, the extended crew and the supportive members of a proud yacht club whose Azzurra history dates back to the America's Cup challenges from 1983.

That Parada today lead the team to the TP52 title on his 52nd birthday is the icing on the cake.

"We have been waiting for this for a long time, in fact the work started after we finished third on countback behind Platoon last year, and not being able to race on the last day, that was very hard. We said we wanted to come back stronger and that is why we worked so hard through the winter and this season and everybody on the team has been really focused on getting us back to bow number 1 and now it is ours for at least next season," Parada said.

"We took a couple of risks among a lot of changes we made through the winter. We have already started our plans for the 2020 season and so we can't say what we have done. We are happy with the risks we took. Luckily we are now enjoying the results. We may not have been the quickest in any one condition but the results show we were among the fastest and most consistent. Maybe we lost a little in the top end which was traditionally our strength but for sure in the lower wind range we gained. We have been now been second four times but I think we have stayed consistent and done our jobs. And Santi's philosophy has been to avoid high risks as much as possible and that has been good for us," enthused Parada on the dock among the celebrations at the YCCS dock. "The team have done a wonderful job to win the title and give me the best possible birthday present. Two reasons to celebrate."

Lange, who celebrated his 58th birthday this week, will not race with Azzurra next season as he focuses on securing a fourth Olympic medal. Although he did not win a regatta over the two years he has sailed on Azzurra since replacing Vasco Vascotto, this 52 Super Series title victory means the world to him.

"I am so happy to win with these guys. It was an honour to be invited to sail with them. I always say that when you have a bad day it is always better to be with friends and when the days are good like this it is always better to be sharing it among friends," Lange smiled.

It was hard for the Platoon team to hide their disappointment. Winners in Mahón at the start of the season and last month collecting their second Rolex TP52 World Championship title in three years, Platoon lost points in Cascais and Mallorca and finish runners up for the third year in a row.

Victor Mariño from Platoon acknowledged:

"I think Azzurra just sailed better than us they played really well, especially this event. We tried to do our best but in reality we were not on the level that these guys were at this event. You can't do everything in one day if you don't do it all year. We lost some points all year at some events. The sailed really well, especially today they focused on the circuit. We are happy with our second position and won the worlds and these are very important so we are happy."

Sled Victorious

After five years on the circuit and three podium finishes, Takashi Okura's Sled also completed a dream finish to their 2019 season winning the Audi 52 Super Series Sailing Week Porto Cervo 2019 regatta title. Mr Okura's crew were in a class of their own showing remarkable speed round the whole race track, not least off the start line. They scored five back-to-back race wins over yesterday and today, a record not seen since Quantum Racing in 2013 when the level of the fleet was much lower.

"We are so happy," Sled's Don Cowie grinned, "The boys on the boat have done a great job, Mr Okura steered so well and the shore team have worked hard all season. We made some nice changes and the boat really was in a nice groove here. The boys at the back of the boat put us in some nice places, we had some good starts. In that flat water and breeze like here we seem to have something. Unfortunately we did not do Cascais which was the other breezy event, we feel good in that stuff. It is awesome for the team. First year we were third overall and first owner-driver and it has been tough since then. But to get on the top step of the podium for Mr Okura is super."

The 52 Super Series heads to Cape Town South Africa for the first time where the first regatta of 2020 starts on March 2nd.

Audi 52 Super Series Sailing Week Porto Cervo
Final standings

1. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (1,2,6,2,1,1,1,1,1) 16 p.
2. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto/Pablo Roemmers) (3,5,2,8,2,2,3,4,6) 35 p.
3. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (5,3,7,4,5,3,2,6,2) 37p.
4. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (8,4,4,1,3,8,4,5,5) 42 p.
5. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) (4,10,1,5,7,7,5,3,4) 46 p.
6. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) (6,6,3,7,4,5,6,7,3) 47 p.
7. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (2,7,8,3,6,6,7,10,9) 58 p.
8. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (9,1,5,10,9,9,8,2,7) 60 p.
9. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (7,8,9,9,8,4,10,9,8) 72 p.
10. Team Vision Future (FRA) (Jean Jacques Chaubard) (10,9,11DNF,6,10,10,9,8,10) 83 p.

2019 52 Super Series
Final standings

1. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto/Pablo Roemmers) 167 p.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) 179 p.
3. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) 181 p.
4. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) 193 p.
5. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) 213 p.
6. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) 218 p.
7. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) 230 p.
8. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) 248 p.

Full results available here.

Azzurra wins the 52 Super Series for the fourth time (from Giuliano Luzzatto)

With a second place finish in the event held in her home waters, the boat flying the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's burgee has won the most competitive keel boat racing series for the fourth time.

For the first time ever, the last day of racing at the Audi 52 Super Series Sailing Week in Porto Cervo saw the fleet of TP52s called to do three races on the final day of an event. Mistral winds were at 15 to 20 knots. The situation could have gone both ways for Azzurra, who was defending her leadership for the season overall from Platoon, more determined than ever to get a win after having won the World Championship at the previous event in Puerto Portals, Mallorca.

Azzurra's entire team showed their steady nerves right from the first race, where they placed third and controlled Platoon, who came in fourth.The race was won by Sled, who kept up her winning streak with no less than three bullets today. Quantum was second.

The following race, the second of the day and the eighth at this event, was where the balance tipped in Azzurra's favour. Azzurra and Platoon had a pre-start match race that Azzurra won getting the pin, the better side, and slowing down her rival. Azzurra herself was slowed down by another team upwind so she covered and controlled Platoon without trying to go for any specific end result: the important thing was to finish ahead of Platoon. The two teams rounded the mark at the back of the fleet, Azzurra ahead of her rival. If this situation lasted to the end of the race, it would have given Azzurra a sure win for the season. But at the gate, Platoon took advantage of her only chance to get free. She crossed in front of Azzurra and rounded the second mark in sixth place while Azzurra slipped back to eighth. On the last run Azzurra chose the left hand side of the course where she was free and in clean air. It was a risky choice that paid off: she finished fourth ahead of Platoon, who was fifth. At this point Azzurra had won the 52 Super Series 2019 a race before its finish. There was a big celebration aboard for a result that the team had been working hard for all through a season where Azzurra had missed winning single events by a hair no less than four times. An extra reason to celebrate was that it was Skipper Guillermo Parada's birthday, 52 years celebrated aboard a winning TP52. Numerology aside, it was consistency that brought this mixed Italian and Argentinian team their hard fought win.

The third race of the day and the final race in the Audi 52 Super Series Sailing Week in Porto Cervo was held in winds at 20 knots. Sled was again unstoppable and won the race ahead of Quantum and Phoenix. Azzurra placed sixth, a good enough score to put her in second place at the event, ahead of Quantum Racing, in third.

Riccardo Bonadeo, YCCS Commodore: "It was a wonderful end to the season here in Azzurra's home waters, I really don't think I could ask for anything more. There was excellent racing and the only team that paced ahead of Azzurra in this event, Sled, was ultra performing this week. Azzurra's team kept a cool head and really deserve this win that comes down to their consistency over the season. Our thanks to the team and to Azzurra's owners, the Roemmers family, for their belief in and support of Azzurra and this whole circuit, the 52 Super Series is really a top international sailing league."

Pablo Roemmers, Owner: "It was a long season where we never won any events but kept a good consistency. We ended four events in second place, usually really close in points to the first placed team and that consistency paid off in the end. We improved small things every day, sometimes the sails, sometimes the setup, sometimes the boat speed and I really think that the key to our success was constant work and consistency. I'm very happy to be celebrating today, especially since it's here in my home yacht club. On top of that today is our skipper's fifty-second birthday, so one more reason to celebrate winning the 52 Super Series. Sailing in our home waters put a lot of pressure on because on top of the world watching us we also knew that our friends from the YCCS were looking. We have to congratulate Sled for winning this event with so many first place finishes, maybe tomorrow we should go and see what they are doing that we aren't!"

Skipper Guillermo Parada: "I told you in Palma that I'd be happy to be in second place as long as we won the Series, so I'm celebrating today. Luckily the points were on our side, plus the team did a wonderful job, so that's two more reasons to be happy. We made some changes to our setup today, and we're happy that we took that risk because we are now enjoying the results. We may not have been the fastest boat on any particular day or in any particular conditions, but we were consistently among the fastest teams and that's all we need. So it's good, and we're happy. We had a strong mind set, we wanted to come back strong after last year's disappointing third place finish and worked hard this winter. All during the season we stayed focused and motivated, so for one year at least, this victory belongs to us."

Santiago Lange, tactician and gold medallist at the Rio Olympic Games, sums it up: "I'm really, incredibly happy. Happy for the team, happy for all of us. I want to thank Provezza with whom we have been sharing info on sails and who unfortunately dismasted at the World Championship. I'm so sad to be leaving this team next year to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, but it's what I have to do. It took me a while to get to sail the way I like to, it took us all a while to get used to each other but today we were calm and solid, even under pressure. I want to thank Azzurra for having had me as part of her team, it's something I will always be proud of."

The 52 Super Series will be back in March 2020 with two events in Cape Town, South Africa, a new venue for the Series, before coming back to the Med.

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