Earlybird and Tom Slingsby saving the best for the finals
Thursday, August 5, 2021 7:36 PM
Palma (Spain), August 5, 2021.In the highly competitive ClubSwan 50 class, with Tom Slingsby calling tactics for owner driver, Hendrik Brandis, Earlybird scored back to back wins and vaulted to the top of the fleet, sharing the same points as German rivals NiRaMo. But the new points scoring system summarily punished the world champions Hatari who had a modest day.
After finishing the Preliminary series Wednesday with a 19 points lead, Hatari defaulted to a one point margin as regatta leader. But their 6,3 today now sees them down in third albeit only one point behind the top two.
That is not to take anything from Earlybird's day. The class is new to Slingsby, 2019 Moth World Champion, America's Cup and Laser Olympic gold medallist, Sail GP champion skipper who comes in hot to Palma on the back of winning the Plymouth SailGP British Grand Prix title.
"We were joking on board that with this scoring system that you don't need to be good until Thursday. We started off in this tough class near the back on the first day, Tuesday we improved and Wednesday it got a bit better. Today it all came together and we are going in the right direction. For sure I know from experience that if you get caught in the fleet it is very hard to overtake. We got better starts, the second one was not so great but we got ourselves into a really nice lane and got a nice shift at the top mark to round second and then we chipped away and got to the lead." Said Slingsby.
With two more days of racing the points are close in the ClubSwan 50 class just ten points separating the top eight teams.
In the IRC Class two TP52 teams matched each other's 1.2 for the day. Andy Soriano's Alere won the first race from Vadim Yakimenko's well travelled, successful Freccia Rossa which then won the second race from Alegre.
Freccia Rossa has won many regattas in and around the Med under ORC and IRC including top boat overall at La Giraglia and Rolex Capri Week.
Quentin Le Nabour who has raced with the Freccia Rossa team since 2013 but is doing his first regatta as tactician considers they too have made incremental improvements before they got to the Finals:
"It was a good day for us, we have made improvements in our manoeuvres, the way we handle the boat. We have had a lot of changes on board with new crew and that takes time to settle and now we are ready. Everything was good today. As soon as you have speed and can manoeuvre life is much easier. I am proud of the team today."
Ado Stead, Alegre's tactician was pleased with their 1, 2 for the day whilst politely reserving judgement on the makeup of the series.
"It was very shifty day on the Bravo course quite close into the beach and the racing was close on handicap. The lead changed, I think, on both of the last runs of the two races today. We are quite pleased with the 1,2 and know Freccia Rossa are good in that kind of condition and have a good handicap, we are pleased to share the day with them."
In BMW ORC Class 1 the boat which won the class the last three times as Estrella Damm, has taken the top spot thanks to a pair of wins today. Fernando Léon's Hydra now leads by two points while King Felipe and the Spanish Navy's Aifos 500 have dropped to third.
Jose Ponce the helmsman of Hydra explained, "Today we had a day of good starts, good tactics and perfect manoeuvres. Almost nothing went wrong and Fernando was spectacular today. We are learning day by day as we haven't sailed it for many years and it was all a bit last minute."
"The boat is perfect for the conditions in the Bay of Palma, although on the first day, with 18 knots, it also worked very well. It has a very good rating in all kinds of conditions. It needs to develop speed to get distance, but if we have a gap at the start, you can see that it is competitive. We were able to do that today, maybe not tomorrow. We know what we have to do."
Giangiacomo Serena's team on G Spot now have the perfect scoreline in the ClubSwan 36 class now counting three wins, winning the preliminary series and then today posting two wins. And in the Herbalife Women's Cup three wins today from the Marbella crew led by Maria Fiestas and Cristina Leyva sees them now lead by two points.
Racing continues Friday when first starting signal is scheduled for 13:00hrs local time.