Nico Martinez / 52 Super Series

Zennstrom overcomes his hoodo

Ran Racing claims opening regatta of the 52 Super Series

Saturday May 23rd 2015, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Spain

From the biggest and most competitive fleet yet, Niklas Zennström and the Rán Racing team won the first regatta of the 2015 Super Series when they kept their focus under the weight of final day pressure.

With Zennström steering alongside tactician Morgan Larson and strategist Adam Beashel, they achieved the required balance between proactive attack and consolidation to convert this morning’s six points margin to finish ahead of rivals Alegre, Andy Soriano’s series debutants.

Valencia’s Malvarrosa Beach race course delivered perfect conditions for the super Saturday showdown, one light sea breeze contest in 6-8 knots and a breezier finale in 14-16 knots to complete a maximum possible complement of 11 races.

Rán Racing laid the foundations of her title victory which started with three second places and a race win. Then the Swedish team had to come right back on form after a wobbly three race Thursday when it added a weighty 22 points to its scorline. Showing considerable composure Zennström crew made a necessary recovery in the first contest today, rising from ninth to sixth. And in the second race Rán did what it had to do, sticking close to its rivals to clinch its first regatta title since winning the TP52 World Championship in Miami in 2013.

Zennström sailing with a lot of new personnel for this regatta broke their 2014 hoodo. Since they joined the circuit in 2011 Rán has won a regatta each year until last year when they won almost all the practice races. They add to regatta titles in 2011 Barcelona in their first year on the Audi MedCup, Palma’s Royal Cup in 2102 the first year of the 52 Super Series and the world title in 2013. But last year they were the team which won almost all the practice races, often led regattas, but never quite sealed the deal. It is particularly pleasing for the tall Swede to come out on top of this regatta which confirms the 52 Super Series, of which he is one of the founding, visionary stakeholders, to be in robust health.

Zennström said: "Its fantastic to win this first regatta of the year with this bigger fleet. Its been a really tough week and we have been fighting hard so we are very pleased. We have been working really hard as a team, winning together and we have been learning about the new boat and Morgan Larson, Adam Beashel and Steve Hayles in the afterguard have done a really good job calling the right shots, we had good boat speed and good starts.

"We haven’t had so much time to get up to speed with the boat, we just had a few days commissioning the boat so this was the first regatta, but Adam sailed with us at a few regattas last year and Morgan sailed with us in 2011 so we all know each other well."

"There are 12 boats here which can win regattas, so the boat which wins this year is going to be a really good victory. All of these boats can win."

Reflecting on the growth of the circuit he said: "It’s amazing. In 2012 we were basically only four boats and now this is the best monohull racing in the world. We will get more and more boats and owners joining and racing at very high levels. The sailing this week has been amazing. It is such a good fleet."

Morgan Larson added: "It was a fantastic day on the water, great to have two races in top end conditions. Finally in the 15-16 knot range when the boats are all moving along real quick. It was nice to have a little more breeze, it felt like that gave the advantage back to our team. The team has been together for a long time. Obviously there have been a few changes but the main one was Adam Beashel and myself, but Adam was spot on all week and that was one of the main reasons we won!"

Alegre, Andy Soriano’s programme, proved it has all the talent and hardware to win on the 52 Super Series. It led after Thursday but then had its own bogey day Friday with an eighth and ninth. With tactician John Kostecki and strategist Kelvin Harrap placing the boat consistently well, and no shortage of speed across the wind range, the team proved itself as 52 Super Series overall contender.

Soriano concluded: ""I never thought that we would be in second position in this regatta and that we would win the first race of the 52 Super Series. I would have been crazy to think that. We have done a good job in the pre-season. We had a very good practice at PalmaVela where we competed with some good teams and gathered valuable information. Finally we had a five day hard practice in Valencia before this regatta. We know each other well because we have sailed together a lot, I have sailed with John Kostecki and Kelvin Harrap for a long time so its easy to work in a new boat when the crew all know all each other. Onboard my boat I have a lot of nationalities which I like because its like in my life! We only really made one mistake it was the fourth day because we weren’t fully focused and when you do something wrong in this fleet it is very expensive. Here we have been fighting with Rán and its funny because we have been fighting in all the regattas we have met during the last six years."

The level of racing proved to be above and beyond most expectations. Runners up overall in 2014 Azzurra took time to get firing on all cylinders, finding tiny early mistakes too costly. But today the team of the Roemmers family, which sails for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, finished on the perfect note on which to head to the next regatta on their own home waters in Porto Cervo. Two magical back to back wins brought the biggest smiles back to the Azzurra camp, proving they too are finding their mojo.

Race wins were shared among the top five finishers. Rán Racing, Alegre, Sled and Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec all won two apiece while Azzurra’s tally included three wins.

Takashi Okura’s quiet consistency on Sled sees them finish in third place. Tactician Ross MacDonald observed: "We're ecstatic. The goal was to be in the game. We have a whole list of things we need to work on as I’m sure do the other teams but we are already looking forward to the next event and addressing those and seeing how we go. I think for the most part we did a pretty good job of staying out of trouble going upwind so I think the boat is set up really nicely and Mr Okura does a pretty good job steering the boat. And we feel really comfortable. Downwind to be honest we have got a bit of work to do, we just need more sailing more than anything else. But we are happy."

Azzurra finished just one point behind in fourth, tied on 54 points with hull sistership Bronenosec.

As predicted there is very, very little speed differences between the nine newly built and launched TP52s all from the design offices of Botin Partners and Judel/Vrolijk. Rán Racing is from the latter, Alegre and third placed Sled from the former.

A strong fleet is expected for the next regatta of the 2015 season on the Costa Smeralda in two weeks time.


1. Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (2,1,2,2,10,5,7,4,1,6,5) 45pts
2. Alegre, GBR (Andre Soriano USA) (1,3,1,5,2,9,2,8,9,5,3) 48pts
3. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura JPN) (7,11,3,3,3,1,11,1,3,3,7) 53pts
4. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (6,5,5,9,1,8,5,5,8,1,1) 54pts
5. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,6,6,1,9,6,1,6,5,4,2) 54pts
6. Quantum Racing, USA (Dalton DeVos USA) (4,7,8,6,6,11,3,3,10,2,8) 68pts
7. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (3,8,11,4,7,2,12,7,7,10,4) 75pts
8. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (5,2,7,8,8,7,6,12,2,7,12) 76pts
9. Interlodge, USA (Austin/Gwen Fragoman USA)(10,4,4,10,11,12,4,2,4,12,6) 79pts
10. Paprec FRA (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (9,10,12,12,4,3,9,11,12,9,10) 101pts
11. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (11,9,9,7,12,4,10,10,11,8,11) 102pts
12. XIO, ITA (Guiseppe Parodi ITA) (12,12,10,11,5,10,8,9,6,11,9) 103pt

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