Light shifty breeze tests crews on day one of Settimana Delle Boche

While different boats won both of the first two races of Sardinia’s Settimana Delle Boche, the second regatta of the 2015 52 Super Series, as much as glittering race wins may contribute, it was the ability to grind back through the fleet from poor early positions which define the top two positions after the first day of racing on the Costa Smeralda.

Azzurra lead Quantum Racing but only on countback, both sharing the same seven points aggregate after two windward leewards in 5-8kts on NE’ly breeze.

Azzurra’s share of the regatta’s best points tally is as much due to their fight back to convert an eighth to a sixth in the second race as it is to their convincing, gun to gun victory in the opening contest. Equally for Quantum Racing, converting fourth to third in the first race and a sixth to fourth in the second heat showed the real regatta winning DNA of the 2014 52 Super Series champions.

The light NE’ly breeze proved difficult to read. When usually it is the surrounding topography which influences the wind in this easterly end of ‘Bomb Alley’, today a big cloud formation over the adjacent island of Corsica, to the north, proved to have a big effect on the wind, more so on the second race when a corresponding swing to the left gave a good early gain to those who seized on this trend earliest.

But it was Azzurra, the emblematic home team which proudly flies the flag of the YCSS who are looking to repeat their Settimana Delle Boche regatta win of 2013, which made the strongest start. Tactician Vasco Vascotto and the crew – with Alberto Roemmers Jr sharing the driving duties with Guillermo Parada – made a great opening to the first race, working the initial right hand wind shift to perfection and were able to lead around the first windward mark.

When the breeze rotated on the second beat they were able to strengthen their lead ahead of Jean-Luc Petithugeunin’s French team on Paprec which scored their best result of the season in second. They stayed focussed and calm when Quantum Racing put them under increasing pressure down the final run, but held on for second.

The second race saw a complete volte face. The boats which were last and second last in first race were among the pacesetters early on. Bronenosec, Vladmir Liubomirov’s Russian flagged team were a disappointing ninth in the first race, compounding a poor start with a desperate second beat when they ended up on the wrong side of the right side wind shift. But in the second start they, along with Tony Langley’s Gladiator were able to use the left shift rotation first as it came across the course.

Gladiator lead around the top mark first time up but gybe set along with the next three boats while Bronenosec bore away, found better pressure in the early part of the run and then a better angle to come back to lead Langley and his crew through the leeward gate. So it was a good recovery for Bronenosec after Race 1, while Gladiator’s third added to sixth in the first race sees them third overall.

Quantum Racing were back on song. The return of the talismanic Terry Hutchinson may have lit the blue touch paper with his verve and relentless drive, but credit to Doug DeVos, the owner driver who had not steered a TP52 for 18 months and took the helm of his new 2015 boat in his first real ‘series’ race and contributed significantly to their smooth sailing. As Hutchinson observed wryly, ‘Day 1 is about surviving’ and they did better than that, as did Azzurra. There seems every chance they will reprise their rivalry on the coastal courses which were so spectacular in recent years.

After two races it remains incredibly close only seven points separating first from ninth and three points between first and sixth.

– 52 Super Series Media

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