Les Bleus in the Pink at Super Series – but Quantum leads

If the largely amateur French team on Paprec finished the third racing day of the Sibenik 52 Super Series Sailing Week in raptures after a well-earned victory, the hard driving Terry Hutchinson, skipper and tactician of Quantum Racing may take some satisfaction that they now top the regatta standings.

However, the mood was more one of frustration to have lost two boats down the final run of the second race.

The French proved that their second in the coastal race was no fluke. They led off the pin end of the line, around the top mark and kept cool and composed to earn their first win on the world’s leading monohull grand prix circuit in more than a year.

For a team on which only the two full time boat crew are paid directly to race, their win was truly special, particularly since it is now three years since they brought on board a crop of new young sailors, such as 2102 Youth World Championship runners-up and 470 Junior world champions Guillaume Pirouelle and Valentin Sapin from Le Havre.

Sapin, who raced in the Youth America’s Cup in Bermuda, is calling tactics on the ‘new’ Paprec which was previously Ran Racing. Their win in a 2015 Vrolijk design to some extent counters the belief that you need a latest generation boat to win races in this white hot 12 boat class.

The team is drawn from all different generations and disciplines, including Figaro racer Jean Charles Monet as navigator, young match racers and Olympic class racers turned Tour Voile starts Pirouelle and Sapin who joined the crew in Porto Cervo in 2015.

“That was my first win with the boat,” Sapin said, stressing: “We made a good start and the guys stayed very focused on the speed and the manoeuvres and we were able to hold on to defend our place.

“We had a plan and it was a good plan. As a team we have young sailors from all disciplines. We are all still amateurs in that we don’t get paid to race here. I sail on the Diam 24 with Guillaume (Pirouelle) but we have young match racers, we have guys from the different projects and take the best of them.”

After a disappointing eighth in the coastal race on Thursday, Quantum Racing’s crew on the bounce back were at their most potent.

Hutchinson, Dean Barker and navigator Ian Moore engineered another good start but it was their timing, when to cross from the left to the right side of the upwind track, which gave them the top mark lead which they were able to hold out to win Race 4 ahead of Andy Soriano’s Alegre. Azzurra were also back on their game after two back to back 10th places, finishing third.

But it was letting both Azzurra and Sled slide through on the final run, dropping from second to fourth, which meant Hutchinson returned to the dock at Sibenik’s D Marin Mandalina marina less than content.

“It was disappointing to lose the two boats down the last run of the second race but overall a solid day. It was a way better day than yesterday and we met the goal for the day. There is plenty of racing still to go. The mood this morning was pretty good. We took back two hard fought points yesterday and it would have been easy to be completely last. The mood was that a lesser team would have gone backwards.”

In their quest to learn their new boat and how to set it up best Hutchinson admits that, like most teams, they are still climbing a steep learning curve: “We are still learning a lot every day about the boat. We are not even half way there. It is about how the rig fits the sails, how we use the adjustments to get the rig through the range. That is the key. And a lot of that is trial and error still.

“We do have a really good debrief system. The numbers help. But right now we are way more aggressive in the afternoon debriefs with the speed team than we have been in the past. We spend a lot of time talking about the boat’s performance, way more than we have done in the past. We will do a session tonight and then a session tomorrow morning.”

Quantum Racing lead by two points from Platoon. Harm Müller Spreer’s crew had a middling day with a 5,7 to Quantum’s 5pts aggregate for the day. Onda’s 10th in the second race to Sled’s fourth sees the two locked on the same points.

Regatta standings after five races:
1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (4,1,8,1,4) 18 p.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,4,3,5,7) 20 p.
3. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (12,3,1,8,3) 27 p.
4. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (2,7,5,3,10) 27 p.
5. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (3,10,10,4,2) 29 p.
6. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (6,12,2,12,1) 33 p
7. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (9,8,6,2,8) 33 p.
8. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (7,5,9,9,5) 35 p.
9. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (5,9,4,7,12) 37 p.
10. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (8,6,11,6,6) 37 p.
11. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (10(+2 PEN),2,7,11,9) 41 p.
12. XIO Hurakan (ITA) (Marco Serafini) (11,11,12,10,11) 55 p.

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