Sled’s narrow lead into Saturday’s Scarlino showdown

Just one point separates Sled from second placed Quantum Racing going into Saturday’s two scheduled races to decide the winners of the Royal Cup, the top trophy for the fourth regatta of the 2022 52 Super Series season.

Just after Sled had augmented her regatta leading margin to six points, thanks to a fourth in the first race of the day compared with Quantum’s disappointing sixth, Doug DeVos’ American team then responded by clinching their first race win of the week.

Their victory finally came after having led at the first windward mark in three previous races and each time been thwarted on Scarlino’s streaky, shifty, difficult to predict competition arena. When he reached the dock back at the Marina di Scarlino tactician Terry Hutchinson’s mood was an equal mix of relief and residual frustration.

Hutchinson grimaced, “I am still angry at the first race. That win has been a while coming. It is frustrating. Race 2 we were leading but broke one of the runners and hung on to get second. “We led the first race yesterday but didn’t get out of our side at the right time and then ran over some weed.

“Then we led the first race today, had an exchange with Platoon down the first run and we just were not crossing them. We stepped out to the right and next time we came together we were sixth. It is brutal.

“Everyone on the boat is putting in so much effort and the boat’s going well and we’re mostly getting things right, but the things we get wrong we’ve paid dearly for. It is a testament to the quality of the teams out there. Everybody is opportunistic and goes very fast. There is just no margin for error.”

Sled’s 10 points on what, for most, was a high scoring day contested in more modest 9-14kts south/south-westerly breezes, still gives something more than a fighting chance of landing her first regatta title of the season after winning two of last year’s three events. Sled’s afterguard of Murray Jones and Francesco Bruni have been outstanding on the Golfo di Follonica.

Mainsheet trimmer and project manager Don Cowie admitted, “It was a tough day for us. We dropped some points and fought back well when we could, so we have to take the positives from it. We made some good moves but the points are not so good today. It’s a nice change going into the final day with a lead though.

“Conditions here are very unusual; big shifts and very streaky. On top of that, the mixing is also very unusual. Sometimes you have 12 knots at the top of the rig and only nine on the water. It is a tricky venue but great fun.”

With eight races sailed, Quantum Racing’s victory this afternoon brings to seven the number of different race winners here so far in Tuscany. Strongest team of the day was Ergin Imre’s Provezza, which recognised the breeze build from the right on the second upwind and jumped up from seventh to win the first race today which she followed up with a fourth.

Provezza’s navigator, Nacho Postigo, confirmed, “It was very complicated today. There was a lot of difference in wind intensity. It was very difficult to select the right sails and also to predict what is going to happen with the wind direction and for how long the changes would stay in.”
After two days locked together, twice finishing on the same points aggregates, Quantum Racing now moves back ahead of title rivals but by only one point.

Provisional standings:

  1. Sled (USA), Takashi Okura, 5+1+3+4+1+3+4+6 = 27 pts.
  2. Quantum Racing (USA), Doug DeVos, 2+2+4+5+3+5+6+1 = 28 pts.
  3. Phoenix (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 3+4+7+1+6+2+5+3 = 31 pts.
  4. Alegre (GBR), Andy Soriano, 7+3+1+3+5+8+3+5 = 35 pts.
  5. Platoon (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 4+7+8+7+2+1+2+7 = 38 pts.
  6. Provezza (TUR), Ergin Imre, 8+5+2+6+7+9+1+4 = 42 pts.
  7. Vayu (THA), Whitcraft Family, 1+9+5+9+4+6+8+2 = 44 pts.
  8. Gladiator (GBR), Tony Langley, 6+8+9+8+9+4+9+ 4.5pts (RDG) = 57.5 pts.
  9. Interlodge (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 9+6+6+2+8+7+7+10 (DNF) (+3 pen pts) = 58 pts.
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