But the Audi MedCup Circuit champions go into Sunday’s one deciding race tied on aggregate points with the Italian flagged Audi Azzurra Sailing Team and with the boat which won the TP52’s last regatta here in September, breathing down their necks two points behind.
Quantum Racing, the 2011 world champions, were on good form, starting well and making few mistakes. In the complicated second race, when there were patches of disturbed air from the passing Wally maxi fleet they were able to tack away to minimise any loss.
In contrast Audi Azzurra Sailing Team had noticeably won the start but the turbulent disturbed air slowed them. Within the first few minutes they had lost a boat length against Quantum Racing and were left on the back foot.
A perfectly timed start in the first race was the foundation for the world champions to lead on the first round and, though their lead was modest, they were never passed. The Audi Azzurra Sailing Team took second place, while the Rán crew were punished for an off-key start and slumped to their worst race of the regatta, 5th.
Though the breeze peaked at 12-13kts in the first race, it faded through the second contest and there were big differences in wind pressure at times. The pressure changes cmeant bigger gains and losses and Rán duelled with Quantum Racing for the race lead – and seemed to have overhauled the champions.
But Quantum Racing got back at them with just a small margin at the final turn.
So the first regatta of the new 52 Super Series will go to the wire, with only one race scheduled Sunday. Only two points separate the top three boats, all of which have lead the regatta over the last three days.
Andy Horton (USA) tactician Quantum Racing (USA): “We had a decent day. It felt comfortable all the way around the track. We had two good starts and the guys did a great job. It is a great team to be with. They don’t leave a lot on the table improve on which is great for me because I get to do my job. I raced in the fleet a few years ago with Caixa Galicia and that was a great team too. Everyone here is very professional.
I never thought about pressure joining a team this successful, but there is always pressure if you do this for a living.
Second race was a bit weird with the Wallys because we wanted to be just to the right a little bit. Azzurra got a little bit less pressure where they were, some dirty air from the Wallys and we were able to tack out of there. We had a good battle with Rán up that beat. But the beauty is that once you can get ahead then you get to pick.”
Steve Hayles (GBR) navigator Rán (SWE): “. Any time you count in the top three you have to be happy, even in a small fleet. It is always very competitive. The first race was just a bad start to be honest and we almost managed to get back into it. It was interesting. The guys on Gladiator are sailing it really well and it is a quick boat. The second race we nearly managed to lead Quantum around the second mark. We were maybe 10 feet short of them not being able to leebow us, and it would have been a different story.”
“It was really, really good racing. Great fun. It is a small-ish fleet but very high level.
It is great here, a bit windier these past couple of days than most people’s forecasts, so that has made it interesting.
In the second race it was really fluky. There was a lot going in inland here and the water is quite cold, we are here that bit earlier. Sometimes that builds the breeze a bit more, when you get the same amount of heating and the colder water. Today there was an occasional push of breeze and then it would drop out. It was a weird kind of day and don’t forget we were a little bit further offshore. We were that extra mile out and that makes it different to what we have known mostly.”
Guillermo Parada (ARG) skipper-helm Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA): “We had a good start in the second race but our line was quite close to where the Wallys were turning their leeward gate, so we had a good start but got under the bad air of the Wallys, and all of a sudden we were very slow. We tacked and had another one in front of us. So less than a minute after the start we were already three or four boat lengths behind. That made our life a lot more difficult.”
“If at the beginning of the week you had said we would be tied on points for the lead, I would have thought that normal.”
52 Super Series, Trofeo de Vela Conde de Godo, Barcelona
After 7 Races:
1 Quantum Racing (USA) 3,3,3,1,2,1,1 14 pts
2 Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 1,1,2,2,3,2,3 14pts
3 Rán (SWE) 2,2,1,3,1,5,2 16pts
4 Gladiator (GBR) 4,4,4,4,5, 4,4 29pts
5 Audi Sailing Team powered by ALL4ONE (GER/FRA) DNC, DNC, DNC, 5,4 ,3,5 35pts