16th of June, 2012

Costa Smeralda Coastal: Que sera sera…

For all that there is a multiplier of 1.5 points attached to today’s coastal race for the Audi Sardinia Cup, the second regatta of the 2012 52 SuperSeries, the mood around the race dock at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda this morning is surprisingly relaxed.

It is not just the warm sunshine, light breezes and pleasant ambience which are contributing to the mood because, despite this being the only coastal race of the 52 season, everyone here has been around the block enough times to know that getting worked up before a coastal race is wasted energy.

In a light sea breeze, up through the La Maddalena archipelago, there will inevitably be stops and starts, transition zones, corners, calms, random puffs, all the variables that make coastal races such a challenge. What will be will be, is probably the morning maxim.

But that is not to say preparations are in any way detuned, indeed there are several key players noticeably absent from the dock this morning, believed to be out ‘walking the course’ in their team RIB, trying to assess where the key transitions will be, the calms and where any local effects might accelerate the breeze to produce some additional pressure.

Of course the pure-bred TP52’s are very much optimised for upwind-downwind racing, and because their sail carding limitations are so tight, they are unlikely to have stamped specialist reaching sails. There is a good chance that the IRC 52’s will have those in their armoury and that could give them an advantage.

The course expected is around 31NM, mainly in the channel between the Sardinia shore and the islands of Caprera, La Maddalena, rounding Spargi to starboard.

The forecast suggest starting in a light NE’ly shifting to E and then SE with more wind as you work N and less on the way back, so the finish could be slow and sticky.

If the breeze fills in then it will be fine, but the biggest worry for the 52 SuperSeries protagonists is that we don’t have any reaching sails and we might see the likes of PowerPlay or Paprec, if there is a long A3 reaching leg, just disappear over the horizon. But then, equally, the good thing is that there might be several starts and stops. There is a transition zone at Caprera and that is where our chase boat is now, on a reconnoitre mission, but equally there could be a big park up before the finish.
Simon Fry, trimmer on Azzurra

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Audi Sardinia Cup Azzurra