After repair work late into the night, as well as remedial work to the engines of their support RIB after two unfortunate crashes within a few hours of each other, the Plattner family’s Phoenix team made a strong start to Puerto Portals 52 Super Series Sailing Week, winning the first race and taking third in the next to finish the first day atop the leaderboard.
The South African flagged team share the same points aggregate as reigning champion, Sled, which posted two equally hard earned second places. Both times Takashi Okura’s team got into good positions early in the race and held steady.
Phoenix ran out comfortable winners of the first contest in a light 8-9kts sea breeze and then recovered from a deep early position to gain third at the top mark second time up.
Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Interlodge, which has Cameron Appleton as tactician this week, scored their first win of the season and lies third overall. However, it was not the best day for 2022 series leaders, Quantum Racing, which posted a weighty 14 points tally. They had to do penalty turns in the second race after an infringement at the second windward mark.
It was a difficult opening day for the tacticians. In the light breeze and strong sunshine, it was hard to read the pressure and to make an informed choice as to the favoured side of the race track, set in the middle of the Bay of Palma.
On top of that the wind pattern changed from one race to the next. Phoenix, with Australian Tom Slingsby and Cam Dunn combining on tactics and strategy, were quick to benefit from the strong breeze on the right side of the first upwind and were over 100 metres clear in front by midway down the first run.
On the second race, with the breeze built to 10-11 knots, overall the left was stronger. Vayu led at the top mark but then lost by staying to the right on the run, Interlodge sliding through to take the lead.
But as ever in this fleet the margins between success and mediocre are small, and today especially seemed to be changing all the time.
Slingsby said, “It is a great start. Most of all we are proud how we battled back to a third in that second race. The breeze was tricky as in these kind of conditions on the Bay of Palma it is really hard to pick which side to choose and usually it goes hard one way or another.
“It’s tough. On that first race we found more breeze on the right side and made a good gain and in the second the left probably won and so we were stuck out on the right and so it was tough, it is tough on the tacticians today.”
The Aussie Olympic gold medallist and SailGP champion skipper reported, “The boat speed is going well again so we are little quicker upwind against some of the top guys. We ended up changing the keel fin back to the old one for this regatta.
“We tried the new one for the first two events, they have both different characteristics. We feel this one might be stronger all round, but all in all, we feel good on the bay.”
Aided by the Provezza boat builders, who helped as their sailing team had dealt the unfortunate practice race blow to their rival’s port aft side deck, today the Phoenix shore team were rewarded for burning the midnight oil and ensuring their racing machine was good as new to start today.
Meanwhile, Sled summarily buried the ‘never win the practice race’ superstitions of their Italian tactician Francesco Bruni: “We are very happy with the first day. The boat is going well, things are going well. Yesterday winning the practice race and then today with two second places. We are going well in these conditions, today between 8 and 12 knots and we made good starts.
“In the second race we did not expect the breeze to go so far left as it did. We managed to stay in the top four or five and sailed well after that. Murray, of course last year was steering, so the relationship between us as tactician and strategist is still quite new and it is getting stronger and stronger.
“Despite me being a superstitious Italian, who said we should not win the practice race, the other guys disagreed yesterday and here we are!”
Interlodge vastly experienced Spanish navigator Juan Vila acknowledged this has also been the best opening day for the Interlodge team since they rejoined the circuit with the former Azzurra.
“It was a bit complicated, but we were able to make two very good starts, which allowed us to be a bit clear of the traffic and sail with our speed, that was decisive,” Vila said.
“The wind was very difficult. Normally the pattern is to go to the right, but there was a geographical effect that out of the bay it was more to the left and balancing one effect with the other is what was difficult.”
Results after two races:
1 Phoenix (RSA), Hasso and Tina Plattner, 1,3 4pts
2 Sled (USA), Takashi Okura, 2,2 4pts
3 Interlodge (USA), Austin and Gwen Fragomen, 4,1 5pts
4 Platoon (GER), Harm Müller Spreer 5,4 9pts
5 Provezza (TUR), Ergin Imre, 3,8 11pts
6 Gladiator (GBR), Tony Langley, 7,5 12pts
7 Alegre (GBR), Andy Soriano, 6,7 13 pts
8 Quantum Racing (USA), 8,6 14pts
9 Vayu (THAI), Family Whitcraft, 9,9 18pts