Rán has Valencia TP52 Super Series title within reach

Between yesterday and today see sawing fortunes of the top title contenders at the Ford Vignale Valencia Sailing Week may have been tough to deal with on board the two leading TP52s but they have made for compelling viewing on the waters off Malvarrosa Beach as the 52 SUPER SERIES first event of the season reached its penultimate day.

On Thursday Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán Racing found small errors magnify across a demanding three race day, seeing them arrive back at the dock in front of the city’s emblematic Veles et Vents building having lost their regatta lead in the face of a strong challenge from rival Andy Soriano’s Alegre.

But today, in standard sea breeze conditions and bright sunshine, the Rán crew bounced right back with a strong fourth and first places. Alegre, in turn, had their worst day yet making 17 pts from the two contests.

And so Rán’s six points deficit of Thursday night is now a six points advantage which they take into Saturday’s showdown when two races are expected to coclude the regatta.

A change of starting strategy was the catalyst for Rán’s recovery. Thursday’s heavy losses were sustained trying to start mid line. But tactician Morgan Larson says today they reverted to working closer to the extreme ends of the start line. A fourth in the first race marked their comeback – even if they were second at one point. And a rocket launch opening in the second start was the foundation for their second race victory of the week.

Coincidentally the reliable starting of rivals Alegre seemed to momentarily desert them and Soriano’s crew found themselves deep in the long grass a couple of times, battling back in the traffic too often.

“In this fleet there can be just a couple of very small things that make the difference between a good day or a bad day. After yesterday we acknowledged that starting up in the middle of the line was not paying and so we took the leeward end in the first race and the windward end in the second race. Both (ends of the line) were strong positions.” said Larson.

Best scoring boat of the day was Takashi Okura’s Sled. As tactician and strategist respectively Ross MacDonald and Hamish Pepper set Sled into a strong position near the pin end of the line on the first start of the day, which Mr Okura executed nicel. Sled lead around the track with Interlodge second and Quantum Racing third – the second third in a row for the American flagged defending 52 SUPER SERIES champions.

Ross MacDonald paid tribute to the skills of Sled’s owner:
“We battled today which was tough to do because everyone I think had the same idea which was to keep an eye on the left today. So I think credit is due to Mr Okura for driving the boat well. For us the big difference is Mr Okura, he is quite bold on the line. He is smooth on the helm. We accelerate nicely and that makes a difference. He is a natural sailor.”

The highlight of the second race, Race 9 of the regatta, was Rán’s start. But Provezza, with tactician Tony Rey working the top third of the beat to perfection, rounded second and battled with the regatta leaders all the way to the finish line, while Sled crossed third and now lie third overall, three points up on Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec

Rán Racing carry that six points lead into Saturday and need a couple of solid races to carry off their first 52 regatta title since they won their TP52 World Championship title in Miami two years ago.

  1. Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (2,1,2,2,10,5,7,4,1) 34pts
  2. Alegre, GBR (Andre Soriano USA) (1,3,1,5,2,9,2,8,9) 40pts
  3. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura JPN) (7,11,3,3,3,1,11,1,3) 43pts
  4. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,6,6,1,9,6,1,6,5) 48pts
  5. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (6,5,5,9,1,8,5,5,8) 52pts
  6. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (5,2,7,8,8,7,6,12,2) 57pts
  7. Quantum Racing, USA (Dalton DeVos USA) (4,7,8,6,6,11,3,3,10) 58pts
  8. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (3,8,11,4,7,2,12,7,7) 61pts
  9. Interlodge, USA (Austin & Gwen Fragoman USA) (10,4,4,10,11,12,4,2,4) 61pts
  10. Paprec FRA (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (9,10,12,12,4,3,9,11,12) 82pts
  11. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (11,9,9,7,12,4,10,10,11) 83pts
  12. XIO, ITA (Guiseppe Parodi ITA) (12,12,10,11,5,10,8,9,6) 83pts
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