After four races at the Royal Cup 52 SUPER SERIES Scarlino regatta in Tuscany, Italy there have now been different winners. Takashi Okura’s 2021 circuit champions Sled are tied with Quantum Racing at the top of the leaderboard while Andy Soriano’s Alegre today moved up to third overall.
Alegre’s first place and a third – aggregating just four points in the breezy, challenging conditions – was the lowest tally today on a Gulf of Follonica race track which is really putting the 52 SUPER SERIES afterguards to the test.
As Phoenix won the second contest of the day, both successive race winners seeming to follow the same basic strategy – starting off the left end of the start line and holding left – the secret of success today was much more than just that. It was also about being able to ride the best veins and gusts of wind pressure for longest, to deal with the awkward waves state kicked up in a SE’ly breeze which still peaked at over 20kts and it was to sail clean with smooth boat handling and manoeuvres.
While Alegre’s young afterguard partnership of Nic Asher and 52 SUPER SERIES newcomer Will Ryan, the Australian double Olympic medallist, read the breeze well and the Alegre team and owner driver Soriano responded by putting all the key components in place, it seemed others could not match their level of consistency.
South Africa’s Phoenix had to bounce back hard after being over the start line in the first contest, then only being able to pull back a couple of places in this highly competitive, evenly matched fleet. So too, Harm Müller Spreer’s Platoon – with new tactician Vasco Vascotto – were twice thwarted having fought hard to get into useful top three or four positions. In the first race a jib strop broke suddenly and they had to stop to make a repair and in the second race they had to take a penalty turn near the top mark second time up which cost them three places.
Past 470 world champion Asher, who as a 31 year old guided Alegre to second here in 2016 commented, “Good starts today for us were important but it was challenging all the way around the race course. There were pressure differences, the wave state was really hard to work with, but keeping in phase and keeping in the pressure was key. It was a fight round the whole race track, it was a tough, tough day.”
Sled sailed a strong day for a third and a fourth, the solid partnership of Murray Jones and Francesco Bruni firing on all cylinders at a venue they are loving for its changes and lack of a constant, discernible pattern. Sled did lead the first race but lost out to Provezza on the first run and then to Alegre’s gain on the second beat. But, critically, Sled gained on successive legs of the second race going from seventh to fifth, then to fourth at the finish gun.
Bruni sailed many months out of Punta Ala – across the bay – with the Italian Luna Rossa America’s Cup programmes – but says that is all so long ago that he has forgotten all he learned. He pays a rich tribute to his Kiwi counterpart, Murray Jones, grinned on the dock at the Marina di Scarlino, “Today and yesterday have been very hard days, both of them, it is not easy to know where to go. It is great working with Murray who has so much experience. Sometimes I don’t see the long term the way he wants it and I have to make quick decisions So there are moments I need to have the freedom to make decisions what I feel and the great thing is that at the end of every day Murray is never pointing the finger saying I should have done something different.”
Quantum Racing sailed a 4,5 today and are tied with Sled on 13pts whilst Alegre are now in third one point behind. Phoenix are fourth on 15pts.
Provisional Standings after Day 2: (four races)
1. SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 5+1+3+4 = 13 pts
2. QUANTUM RACING (USA), Doug DeVos, 2+2+4+5 = 13 pts
3. ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 7+3+1+3 = 14 pts
4. PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 3+4+7+1 = 15 pts
5. PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 8+5+2+6 = 21 pts
6. INTERLODGE (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 9+6+6+2 = 23 pts
7. VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 1+9+5+9 = 24 pts
8. PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 4+7+8+7 = 26 pts
9. GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 6+8+9+8 = 31 pts