Sled step clear in Scarlino
Takashi Okura’s Sled team were top scoring boat over a testing day of shifting, light breezes on the Gulf of Follonica at the 52 SUPER SERIES Scarlino Sailing Week today. The 2021 circuit champions sailed to a first and a fourth place, whilst their nearest title rivals so far this week, Quantum Racing powered by American Magic, faltered with a tenth in the second contest – the result of being over the start line early.
The light sea breeze was fading fast by the time the first race finished, but Sled – with the owner steering and Kiwi ace Murray Jones calling tactics – held on to a comfortable lead to take their second winning gun of the week. The second windward-leeward contest saw a big shift after the first upwind leg as well as big differences in wind pressure across the same areas of the course. There were times when boats only 100 metres apart were either fully powered up, crew hiked or struggling for wind with crew weight in and low.
Gladiator, with owner Tony Langley calling tactics and four times 52 SUPER SERIES winner Guillermo Parada on the wheel, made a perfect start to the first race, at full speed at the pin end of the line before working the left side early, moving right to lead around the windward mark. Down the run they were caught by Sled who then took the right of the second beat and earned a solid lead, winning ahead of Gladiator and Quantum Racing powered by American Magic.
The same starting strategy – using the space at the pin end to build speed and sail in clear air early on – worked for Shawn and Tina Kang’s Hong Kong flagged Alpha + team and they led round the first windward mark ahead of Vayu. From the cluster in the windward third of the start line Quantum Racing jumped the start gun and after recrossing the line were way behind the fleet. But whilst the sailed in clear air and got up to seventh by the first turn, they then lost out on successive runs to finish 10th.
In the shifty, streaky breeze Alpha + were unfortunate to run out of breeze to the right of the run when Vayu – who gybed earlier – went on to take the lead which they converted to their first race win of the season. Provezza, winners in Saint Tropez, made the best gain on this first run jumping from 10th to second which they held through the finish.
Sled – who led three of five days here last year – are now five points clear at the top of the general classification, Ergin Imré’s Provezza are now second and Vayu moved up to third.
Mainsheet trimmer on Sled Don Cowie (NZL), recalled,
“It was a tricky day it really was but out guys at the back of the boat did a good job and Mr Okura was driving the boat well. It was tricky and so you feel better coming away with the scores we did. That last race was pretty screwed up towards the end and so I feel we were lucky to come away the way we did. Every event we come here to win, no question but always you are looking most at the long term, at the season and so from that point of view we did that in Saint Tropez, we did not sail as well as we should have there. We now just want to be consistently in that top group all the time. The boat is going pretty well, we made changes to how we set up the rig, the sails and the boat are fast right now.”
Don Whitcraft (THA) the young helm on Vayu said,
“It was huge to get a win on the board for the first time this season, we have had our ups and downs this season. We are so stoked, it is awesome. It shows we can do it. We are constantly trying to better, only trying to improve every day, that is our goal as a team. Dylan and I are doing our 49er campaign for the Olympics at the same time. It is good and keeps me sharp and we are doing much more racing. It is great fun, it is close racing all the time and we enjoy it, it is the next best thing to this!”
52 SUPER SERIES Scarlino Sailing Week – Provisional standings after four races
1- SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 1+5+1+4 = 11
2- PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 6+2+6+2 = 16
3- VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 3+6+7+1 = 17
4- QUANTUM RACING AMERICAN MAGIC (USA), Doug DeVos, 5+1+3+10 = 19
5- ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 10+7+4+3 = 24
6- GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 9+9+2+5(+1) = 26
7- PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 7+4+8+7 = 26
8- PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso and Tina Plattner, 4+3+11+9 = 27
9- INTERLODGE (USA), Austin and Gwen Fragomen, 8+8+9+6 = 31
10- PAPREC (FRA), Jean Luc Petithuguenin, 2+10+10+11 = 33
11- ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn and Tina Kang, 11+11+5+8 = 35
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