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Ran Racing never says die

Niklas Zennstrom's team closes on Quantum Racing at the 52 Super Series racing at Copa del Rey MAPFRE

Friday August 8th 2014, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Spain

Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing proved its never-say-die fighting spirit on the Bay of Palma today when it twice made key gains in the final minutes of successive races to bring themselves within only three points of regatta leaders Quantum Racing going into the final day of the Copa del Rey MAPFRE.

If Rán’s 1,2 for the penultimate pair of raced proved their best yet this week - owner Zennström later declaring their gains against the benchmark Quantum Racing as "awesome" - for the 2013 Copa del Rey champion Quantum Racing, it proved more frustrating.

Rán Racing pipped Quantum Racing on the finish line, surging on one wave to win the photo finish to Race 8, but Quantum’s tactician Terry Hutchinson was kicking himself for some choices on Race 9 as well which lead to their fourth place finish: “We made a dog’s breakfast of those races. We turned a 1,2 at the first marks to a 2,4. So……it was just not our Christmas Day. There are some things we will do better.”

In effect Rán Racing halved Quantum Racing’s lead over Friday’s two windward-leeward races which were contested in the briskest seabreeze of the regatta so far, 13-16 knots. The SSEerly direction on the most easterly race arena placed Palma’s premium on winning the left of the course upwind and made the pin end start highly sought after.

At the first start it was Quantum Racing which accomplished this again, making their speed build in the final seconds count after the gun, while Rán – at the buoy itself – were slightly downspeed by comparison. Passing the first top mark Quantum Racing led Tony Langley’s Gladiator with Rán in third.

Gladiator erred left on the downwind and lost to Rán Racing, but it was a combination of speed and finding a better strand of breeze down the final run which allowed Rán to close 20 or 30 metres on the leaders Quantum. And in a heart stopping final few metres Zennström's crew made the better gybe on to one wave which allowed them to only just pip Quantum Racing to the finish gun.

Azzurra won the left side early on the first beat of the second race and were never challenged, going on to an important second win of the event for them, but while Quantum Racing dropped from second to fourth over the second round, the key for Rán Racing was their pipping Phoenix in the final 60 metres of the last downwind, and so trimming their deficit to Quantum by one more point.

In the stronger breeze, 14-17 knots over the day, both of the top two team’s pointed to Rán Racing’s speed edge downwind as an important factor today. “It is hard to ignore Rán Racing’s speed downwind.” Terry Hutchinson grimaced, “They have sailed their way out of spots that we would not have sailed out of, just the difference in hull shapes and so on, that makes them quite slippery. That has been a standard thing since I have been racing against that boat. They use it as quite a powerful weapon and they do nice work understanding the mode of their boat.”

The Rán Racing owner-driver commented: “It was awesome. Quantum Racing is such a hard team to beat, so getting back a few points today gets us back in the game. We are well set up for tomorrow. We will be back out there fighting as hard as we can.”

And meantime Azzurra’s Vasco Vascotto reckons their comparative lack of speed off the start line is the foundation of some of their problems trying to match Rán and Quantum Racing. Winner of the first regatta of the season in Europe, Azzurra has more of a mountain to climb at eight points off the overall leaders Quantum Racing: “In the first three minutes after the starts we are just sailing very, very slow. We don’t know what is happening. That compromised the first race. It is not a nice week for us. But we are learning. We have to analyse why we are so slow three minutes after the start. That is the most important thing. We need to improve our speed to be competitive.” Vascotto concluded.

Results after 9 races

1. Quantum Racing, USA, (Doug DeVos USA) (2,1,2,2,6,1,2,2,4) 22pts
2. Rán Racing, SWE, (Niklas Zennström SWE) (1,7,6,3,1,3,1,1,2) 25pts
3. Azzurra, ITA, (Alberto Roemmers ARG) (3,5,4,1,5,2,5,4,1) 30pts
4. Phoenix, BRA, (Eduardo de Souza Ramos BRA) (6,3,3,6,2,5,3,3,3) 34pts
5. Gladiator, GBR, (Tony Langley GBR) (DNF/8,2,1,5,3,4,4,5,7) 39pts
6. Paprec, FRA, (Jean Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (4,6,5,4,4,7,6,7,6) 49pts
7. Provezza 7, TUR, (Ergin Imre TUR) (5,4,DNF/8,DNS/8,7,6,7,6,5) 56pts

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