52 Super Series Valencia Sailing Week: Platoon Lead at the Bell
Displaying a notable speed edge in the light 6-10kts breeze conditions Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon leads the 52 SUPER SERIES Valencia Sailing Week after the first two races.
Although they finish the first day tied on points with Azzurra, and Platoon won the first race, it was the manner in which the German-flagged team sailed back through the fleet on the second race – coming back from a poor start, rising from 11th to finish fourth – which suggests they may prove to be the crew to beat at this final regatta of the season. Platoon are key rivals to Azzurra for second step on the circuit podium.
The Italian-Argentine team, which have just a few days left in their tenure as overall champions of 2017 lie second overall behind Quantum Racing on the circuit leaderboard and have five points of a lead over third-placed Platoon.
After today’s racing – ending all square between the top two teams of the day – there may be no change in that points difference between the two, but now Azzurra certainly know they have a fight on their hands, and their best form of defence against Platoon is to attack, to go out and try and win each race.
There is no room for small errors on the America’s Cup race course areas, today’s 6-10kts breezes proving streaky, shifty and difficult to read. To their credit Azzurra lead off the start line of the first race, working the preferred left side of the upwind along with Platoon. But at the first windward turn, Azzurra tacked just under the lay line and slowed to get around the turn. The mistake cost them as Platoon rolled over the top of them at speed at the mark and went on to win Race 1.
Circuit leaders Quantum Racing started the day with an almost certainly unassailable 31pt season’s lead, but they were on the wrong side of the first beat, dropped to 10th by the leeward turn and recovered to eighth.
At their most potent after a bad result, Quantum Racing did not make the same mistake twice and started nicely off the left end of the start line along with Luna Rossa. Appropriately the two America’s Cup teams enjoyed a close head-to-head at the front of the fleet with Luna Rossa holding on to their early lead right through to the finish.
Platoon got their time on distance badly wrong at the start of the second race and were left flat footed at the gun. But they took places on each leg, seemingly at will, to recover to fourth, ensuring they are the overall leaders of the regatta.
Platoon’s America’s Cup winning trimmer Ross Halcrow noted:
“We started behind everyone. But we kept calm and just focused and let JK (John Kostecki) do his thing. We are going pretty well in these conditions, we are well suited to the lighter breeze. And JK and Jordi (Calafat) are working really well.”
Luna Rossa moved up the circuit standings to fourth today, leapfrogging Sled, which dropped to a weighty tenth in the second race, the Italian America’s Cup team scoring seven points for the day.
52 SUPER SERIES Valencia Sailing Week
Regatta standings after day 1
1. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,4) 5 p.
2. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (2,3) 5 p.
3. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (6,1) 7 p.
4. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (3,6) 9 p.
5. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (4,5) 9 p.
6. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (8,2) 10 p.
7. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (5,10) 15 p.
8. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (7,9) 16 p.
9. Paprec (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (11,7) 18 p.
10. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (10,8) 18 p.
11. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (9,11+ 2 penalti) 22 p
Guillermo Parada, ARG, Azzurra:
“Given the conditions we need to be happy with our results but most of all with the way we sail and the way we approach each race: the analysis before the race the decisions we do. Obviously overall we are happy. We had the chance of being in front in the first race, we had to make a decision approaching the top mark of whether we leebow or cross and try to cover from the inside, we decided the second and they were able to squeeze ahead. But given the conditions today we cannot complain. We need to stay calm, these things can happen, and keep thinking like this because conditions will be the same for the entire week. It’s going to be a long tense week and a lot at stake in between 2nd-5th overall. We need to be very smart in order to make the proper course. Today we achieved that goal and obviously we keep doing it the rest of the week.
Winning this event would be a good bonus, and is the easiest way to secure the second position, but if it some stage we need to decide between, we would obviously hedge towards the season positions. But we need to wait a couple days, consider the options and reevaluate. For now the goal for this regatta is to do everything in our hands to consolidate this position.”
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa:
“I think what is good is that the boat speed is showing that we are going fast upwind and downwind, so we can have a very good week. The team is doing a very good job, we are all trying together to get to the podium overall and we’re going to do our best to get to that result. I think we can, we have very good potential, it’s the first time that this team together does the circuit and we are fighting hard for every point. We have the speed to do it, the tactical abilities to do it, strategical to do it, so we can do it. The competition is very hard, Platoon had a good day as well, so we haven’t gained any points on them, but we gained points on Sled. Tomorrow is another day though, it’s a long competition but I have good positive vibes.”
How does the trifecta work between you and Vasco and Jimmy:
“The communication is getting better still. Last event Jimmy couldn’t sail because of some problems, and we missed him. I think to have him onboard is a big priviledge for all of us and he’s doing great. The thing is that the fleet is very competitive, and its a great exercise for us of the America’s Cup in such a high level field.”
“I think Platoon today showed they have some pace in light wind, there is no doubt. It’s something that we have seen during the season, anytime that it is light they are very fast, catch boats, and if they are in the lead they just stretch away. We have seen it before, but in Cascais it was windy and they had some issues. Obviously it’s a great afterguard, but every team you see here has a great afterguard!”
Racing at the Valencia 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week starts Tuesday and finishes Saturday with the end of season prize-giving on Saturday night. All of the action will be broadcast live at www.52SUPERSERIES.com and via the app throughout the whole regatta on 52 SUPER SERIES TV with live commentary and expert analysis throughout each race. Shows start 15 minutes before racing is due to begin.