Sled wins two races at TP52s to move into second place

(Wednesday 26th July, Puerto Portals) – Takashi Okura’s Sled hauled themselves up to second place overall at Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week after winning both races on the Bay of Palma today. A pair of precision first leg laylines in a lifting breeze coupled to good starts proved the key as they completed a pair of wins, leading at every mark, a feat which has eluded them since 2014 when they won two races on the last day of the US Championship in Miami.

Mr Okura’s crew, led by tactician Hamish Pepper, strategist Cameron Dunn and navigator Andrea Visintini had a slightly rocky start to this fifth regatta of the six event 52 SUPER SERIES, sailing 8,3,8 from the first three races, lying eighth of nine. But in the even, tightly matched fleet their red letter day promotes them to second – only two points behind Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing – and tied with third placed Quantum Racing.

Don Cowie, the Sled mainsheet trimmer smiled: “It’s a good day for us considering we were bouncing about near the back of the fleet earlier on, it is good for the team. We have been working hard this season, making small changes and seem to have good speed now. But credit to Mr Okura who got us a good starts today and the afterguard really got the laylines right.”

Cameron Dunn, strategist, added: “We’ve had a tough season, there’s no hiding from that but we’ve been working very hard to improve every day and get faster. It takes time. We had a good plan for the beats, the boat felt like it was going really nicely upwind. We put it in the right places and the boat did its thing and we didn’t make any mistakes. Even in that last race it seemed like the whole fleet was coming into us hard on the last run. It was a really big team effort—Mr. Okura drove the boat really nicely, the team set the boat up beautifully and I think Hamish and myself and Andrea in the back of the boat put the boat in the right places so it was a pretty nice combination!”

The breeze was more right than the usual sea breeze direction, between 225 and 240 degrees today, from 10-13kts but it was very hard to read and use the lanes of strongest pressure. The trend was for the right side of the course to pay.

The fleet was so tight in the peloton that any small errors were costly. Rán Racing’s could not sustain the same level of consistency as their 1,2,2 opening. They dropped places at the leeward gate in the first race to finish eighth. Following up with a sixth place they saw their five point cushion trimmed to just two. At the half way point of the regatta only six points separates the top seven boats.

With the breeze lifting on the right side of the upwind in the first race Sled showed the way, Provezza and Bronenosec overstanding slightly. Gladiator came in from the early left to round second with Provezza third and Rán fourth. Azzurra, the circuit leaders were closed out from the committee boat end cluster and had to take two penalties. Sled held out to win with Platoon making a nice gain down the first run to takes second with Provezza third.

In the pursuit of a more settled, even breeze the course area was moved slightly west and inshore. Sled led the charge at the top mark from Bronenosec who broke right from the committee boat. 2016 champions Quantum Racing rounded third and sailed a good final run to steal second, netting seven points for the day to challenge for second place overall.

Quantum Racing’s strategist Michele Ivaldi reported: “We earned two good scores, we are very happy with the day. It was really difficult out there, you had moments where you just had to try to salvage what’s around you. I think Terry and the boys did a really good job just keeping composed and chipping away and try to get good results. The second race especially was really good job and really hard, but in the first one we had moments we were struggling, but at the end was good.”

The challenge, as ever, is to keep the high level of consistency. Rán Racing struggled slightly today, now the pressure is on Sled to repeat. Cameron Dunn explained: “We’ve just got to do the same things we’ve been doing, no different. We’ve been debriefing well, have got good speed meetings in the morning, look at the weather. You’ve just got to try to have the same mentality. If you look at the way Rán has been sailing since Porto Cervo and starting here—a little bit of momentum can carry on nicely it just gives everyone a little bit of confidence and at this level it’s tiny little differences that add up to a meaningful difference.”

Standings after five races.
1. Rán Racing (Niklas Zennström, SWE), (1,2,2,8,6) 19 pts.
2. Sled (Takashi Okura, USA), (8,3,8,1,1) 21 pts.
3. Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, USA), (4,4,6,5,2) 21 pts.
4. Platoon (Harm Müller-Spreer, GER), (5,9,3,2,3) 22 pts.
5. Provezza (Ergin Imre, TUR) (6,1,7,3,5) 22 pts.
6. Azzurra (Familia Roemmers, ITA/ARG), (3,6,1,7,7) 24 pts.
7. Bronenosec (Vladimir Liubomirov, RUS), (7,5,5,4,4) 25 pts.
8. Gladiator (Tony Langley, GBR) (9,7,4,6,9) 35 pts.
9. Alegre (Andrés Soriano GBR/USA) (2,8,9,9,8) 36 pts.

John Kostecki (USA) tactician Platoon (GER):

“It is tricky, shifty, but on the upwind legs the right side paid most of the time, you had to play that but sometimes you had to get out of the right and get the next puff on the left, so quite a tricky day. I am quite a conservative sailor so we don’t take too much risk, rely on good boat speed and good boat handling and rely on solid tactics and don’t make too many mistakes.”

On the close racing: “I think it’s great, we finished the last race and I just said to everybody “that was a lot of fun. that was fun, good tight racing. really fun, we can’t have better racing than that!”

Michele Ivaldi (ITA) strategist Quantum Racing (USA):

To be back with Quantum: “It’s a a great pleasure for me to be back with this team, it started more than three years ago I first sailed with Terry and always enjoy sailing with him and this team, a really nice, fantastic group of people.”

Finish line of second race: “We knew it would be sooooo close, because the whole fleet was getting compressed, but this is the level you have to play at. We tried to find a lane where we could sail the last three minutes by ourselves, and we pulled those two extra lengths that made us pass the blue boat and finish second.”

On Doug DeVos, owner driver: “He’s good and he’s consistent and super concentrated all the time. He’ll take on board any comment and improve on it and he’s just really really good.”

Three boat program: “That’s a new thing for me as I’ve just joined this team for this event and have seen for the first time how it works and was really surprised at the amount of openness between the teams and I think it’s been beneficial for the teams for the past few months. For me it’s strange to participate in those debriefs where you’re sitting with the enemy, but in the big picture it’s helping the three of us so really really interesting.”

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