In winning the 52 SUPER SERIES second regatta of the 2017 season, the 52 SUPER SERIES Miami Royal Cup, Azzurra proved once again that a team on the bounceback from a modest preceding event is often at its most potent. The emblematic team of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda felt they were not at their best in Key West in January, lacking speed when they finished in fifth, seven points behind regatta winners Quantum Racing.
But ongoing hard work, constantly striving to find that speed they felt they lacked, has been rewarded over the last five days of racing off the iconic Miami Beach, racing across a wind range of six to 22kts, when they posted seven results in the top three – including three race wins – from the nine races series to win the top trophy by clear eight points.
Their impressive 24-points aggregate from the nine races compares favourably with Quantum Racing‘s 43pt tally over the ten races sailed in Key West.
In seven to 14kt E’ly winds Azzurra completed their winning scoreline with a third and a fourth today. The crew, led by Guillermo Parada with tactician Vasco Vascotto win their first circuit regatta since they triumphed in Cascais – the final event of the 2016 season – with a nearly facsimile run of points and final aggregate.
Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon finish runners up just as they did when they were second behind Quantum Racing in Key West, so becoming the only team to have finished on the podium at both of this season’s events. Ergin Imre’s Provezza finish third despite a shaky eighth place in the last race of the regatta, but earn their third career podium place on the 52 SUPER SERIES.
While the Azzurra team were certainly happy to pop the champagne and celebrate the win at Monty’s on South Beach, the knowledge that they will head back to Europe and the next regatta in May in Scarlino with the overall circuit lead and a boat that appears to have few weak points is even more comforting.
“We had a hard time in Key West,” said Argentinian Parada. “We didn’t feel very fast, especially in certain conditions. So we work and we make a lot of changes. This week we have a completely different boat.”
“As I said a couple days ago, ‘glory doesn’t last forever’, but at least we make it last for two months, which is the biggest break of the season.”
A fast boat is one component to a regatta win. Another is a hot tactician and a cohesive crew.
Vascotto was in step all week with the shifty South Florida wind, and while many of their competitors struggled at times with unforced crew work errors, the Azzurra team sailed cleanly throughout.
Another boat that will head into the four European 52 SUPER SERIES regattas with confidence is Platoon. The incorporation of tactician John Kostecki and main trimmer Dirk de Ridder – both have won the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race – into the crew line up for this season is appearing to pay off, so too the solid skills of Spanish Volvo racer, Pepe Ribes, as boat captain. While the team isn’t convinced they have solved their issues in lighter air, they did make significant progress.
“It’s a ‘work in progress’” said Kostecki, who also won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics. “We’re getting better every day. We felt pretty weak in the light air in Key West and fortunately we had some light air here and we were able to kind of get on top of some of our issues. We seem to be a lot better, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Meanwhile, Quantum Racing – the 2016 Champions – are on a learning curve with new helmsman Bora Gulari, who was steering his first regatta with the team. They will very shortly be back at their best, but were not at their sharpest off the start line and that made life tough at times in this white-hot fleet.
Final Standings, 52 SUPER SERIES Miami Royal Cup
1. Azzurra (A and P Roemmers, ITA/ARG), 24 p
2. Platoon (Harm Müller-Spreer GER,), 32 p
3. Provezza (Ergin Imre, TUR) 39 p
4. Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, USA), 42 p
5. Sled (Takashi Okura, USA), 52 p
6. Rán Racing (Niklas Zennström, SWE), 54 p
7. Gladiator (Tony Langley, GBR) 55.6 p
8. Bronenosec (Vladimir Liubomirov, RUS), 59 p
9. Alegre (Andrés Soriano GBR/USA) 63 p
10. Sorcha (Peter Harrison, GBR) 66 p
11. Paprec (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, FRA)108 p