Tied at the top after Moving Day at Key West
Thursday, January 19, 2017 9:16 AM
At Quantum Key West Race Week Wednesday is known as “moving day”. It is, in the middle of a regatta, a pivotal stage, when consistency starts to show, the cream rises to the top, and a real insight into the possible hierarchy at the end of the week is gained.
After three races today for the white-hot 52 SUPER SERIES fleet, three boats sit at the top of the 11-boat fleet with just one point separating them. Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon are credited with the lead, but only by virtue of the tie break.
Azzurra, winners of the last regatta in 2016, now share the lead thanks to a solid 2,6,4 today, while Ergin Imre’s crew of Provezza – the day’s ‘climbers’ – are now third overall. With Peter Holmberg steering and Tony Rey on tactics, Provezza have notched up three second places in the last six races, finishing no worse than fifth today.
After seven races, five different boats have now won races. Today Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s new Interlodge posted back-to-back wins, their first ever with a boat that was only really trialled and tested for the first time in December.
In contrast, but no less welcome or deserved, a race victory on the 52 SUPER SERIES circuit has been rather longer in coming for Jean-Luc Petithuguenin’s French Paprec crew, who won Race 7, leading from gun to gun and meriting a champagne celebration back at the dock!
The gaps at the top of the table are small. With three scheduled races still to go, the four-point buffer between Provezza and Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing may seem significant, but waiting patiently are top teams like Quantum Racing, Bronenosec and Sled poised behind them, all still hold strong hopes of finishing on the podium.
The 2016 champions Quantum Racing actually had one of their highest scoring days for a long time, going 8,7,9, but are still just eight points off the lead, tactician Terry Hutchinson observing wryly:
“That’s not nearly as bad as it should be. That’s the beauty of the team, we’ll get up tomorrow, it’ll be a new day and we’ll come out ready for another street fight. We just got to have the mental toughness and the trust to do that properly.”
Race 5: Interlodge Scores First Win With New Boat
With the wind down a bit from the first two days, and the sea state as well, the pressure was squarely on the tacticians and strategists.
The teams spread out along the line, each looking for a good lane to launch up the track. Interlodge charged off the pin, with Azzurra closely to windward. Those two, along with Bronenosec bit hard into the left side while the rest of the fleet worked the middle and the right. The left proved good with Interlodge rounding first and Azzurra five lengths behind. Azzurra kept the pressure on throughout the race but Interlodge, led by helmsman Ian Walker and tactician Andy Horton, proved equal to the task, earning their first win of the regatta and the boat’s maiden win.
Azzurra was a close second with Rán Racing third and Provezza fourth. After doing a penalty at the leeward mark and so finding themselves in last place, Quantum Racing ground back to eighth, saving a few crucial points.
Race 6: Interlodge Strikes Again
When you’re good, you’re good. Interlodge wasted no time in getting a second win on their scorecard. For the first time in this regatta a large group of boats battled for the committee boat end of the line. Brononesec emerged from that scrum unscathed, Azzurra and Platoon took advantage of the space down by the pin to accelerate cleanly at pace and make a beeline for the left corner. Initially this appeared to be the best call, but it was a case of too much of a good thing as the wind shifted so far to the left that Sled, Azzurra and Platoon were all quite overstood.
Interlodge, who had started toward the middle of the line and played the leg more conservatively was able to close on the front group and round as part of the leading foursome.
Bronenosec squirted into the lead at mark one, followed closely by Interlodge. At the second windward mark those two boats were overlapped.
Bronenosec blinked first, gybing away shortly after the rounding. It was a decision the Russian boat would come to regret as Interlodge sailed to a comfortable win, and Platoon – who finished 10th in the first race of Day 3 – was able to right ship somewhat with a second.
Race 7: Allez les Bleus
While the breeze continued to fade, the race committee decided there was enough left to run a third race, especially with a forecast for weak winds for Day 4. As the boats neared the line, the wind dropped to its lowest point in the regatta, putting a premium on positioning and the speed build.
Among those with a strong start was the all-French team on Paprec and Provezza.
It proved perhaps the most competitive beat of the regatta with the lead changing hands often and rarely stretching to more than a boat length.
Bronenosec with Morgan Larson calling tactics struggled all leg to find a lane, but had a masterful top quarter of the beat, moving up to third and rounding just inside of Interlodge.
The leeward mark, however, proved the undoing for the Russian boat as they were whistled for a foul and forced to do a circle. Platoon, likewise struggled around the mark, but Harm Müller-Spreer’s team rebounded nicely on the next beat to put themselves back into the top half of the fleet.
Paprec hung on for their first win in a 52 SUPER SERIES race, while Provezza moved to within a point of the lead by finishing second. Sled claimed third and Azzurra continued their consistent regatta with a fourth, which was good enough to put the Italian/Argentine team into a tie for first with Platoon.
52 SUPER SERIES
2017 Quantum Key West Race Week standings after seven races.
1. Platoon (Harm Müller-Spreer, GER), (1,1,6,6, 10,2,5) 31 pts.
2. Azzurra (Alberto and Pablo Roemmers, ITA/ARG), (6,2,3,8,2,6,4) 31 pts.
3. Provezza (Ergin Imre, TUR) (8,9,2,2,4,5,2) 32 pts.
4. Rán Racing (Niklas Zennström, SWE), (4,6,9,4,3,4,6) 36 pts.
5. Interlodge (Austin Fragomen, USA) (5,8,11,5,1,1,8) 39 pts
6. Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, USA), (3,7,4,1,8,7,9) 39 pts.
7. Bronenosec (Vladimir Liubomirov, RUS), (7,4,5,3,7,3,11) 40 pts.
8. Sled (Takashi Okura, USA), (2,5,8,11,6,11,3) 46 pts.
9. Gladiator (Tony Langley, GBR) (10,10,1,9,5,9,7) 51 pts.
10. Paprec Recyclage (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, FRA) (9,11,10,7,11,8,1) 57 pts.
11. Alegre (Andrés Soriano GBR/USA) (11,3,7,10,9,10,10) 60 pts.