Steady consistency across the opening three races of the ZENITH Royal Cup MARINA IBIZA sees Quantum Racing ahead of target as they seek to close out their second overall BARCLAYS 52 SUPER SERIES title.
The series leaders scored a 1,2,3 in Ibiza’s light and shifty conditions on a race course area which is laden with very subtle changes in wind direction and pressure. While the crew which is skippered by Ed Baird would definitely like to finish their 2014 season with a third regatta win, that would be the icing on the cake. Their primary goal is simply protecting their overall points cushion – or increasing it – over nearest rivals Azzurra and Rán Racing.
Counting down to Sunday’s prizegiving, purely from that standpoint today was valuable to Quantum Racing. It was only in Race 3 today that they were beaten only once by Azzurra when the Italian flagged team took second behind Gaastra Pro, otherwise their title challengers were increasing their deficit.
Meantime three different crews won races today including race victories for the two teams which are new to the BARCLAYS 52 SUPER SERIES, Takashi Okura’s Sled – which was flown to Europe for this one regatta only – and Marc Blees all star cast on Gaastra Pro. Winds were light and shifty, small changes in pressure and direction proving important to read.
Quantum Racing were on their game, reading the small differences well and staying in step with these changes. And it was as much about their ability to go forwards in the fleet, returning three podium finishes from three starts which will be key this week. Quantum Racing’s tactician was as pleased to have rescued a third from the third race when he felt at one point they were last, as he was with their opening race win:
“To get a third out of that was good because there was a time when we were probably last.
That first race we had a plan, executed it and it worked it. In the second race same thing. In the third race we got the start we wanted, we had a discussion about being one more boat up but in these lighter conditions being leeward boat is such an advantage, you get something for it.
It was a little bit of swings and roundabouts.” Hutchinson recalled.
So with their 1,2,3 Quantum Racing lead the ZENITH Royal Cup MARINA IBIZA by four points ahead of Azzurra and Rán Racing.
Quantum Racing won the first race off the start line. They got the start they wanted with the best pace coming away from the gun. Rán Racing did not have the best of starts and went right and were more or less overlapped with Quantum Racing as they rounded the first turn. Downwind Rán Racing got through and lead Quantum Racing through the gate. But Terry Hutchinson read a right hand shift coming in and they jumped back ahead to lead Rán Racing through the finish with Azzurra in third.
With slightly more breeze at the second start Quantum Racing were away cleanly again while Phoenix started early and struggled to get back and re-cross. Azzurra were judged to have fouled Gaastra Pro in a close, early port starboard cross and they had to take a penalty.
Down the first run Sled worked the offshore line and were rewarded with an increase in wind pressure as they closed to the leeward gate, able to ease around Quantum Racing to earn a small lead which they held to the finish.
The wind was fading more by the late afternoon for Race 3 as Gaastra Pro’s tactician Mark Mendelblatt guided them out to make a big gain offshore, arriving at the first windward mark with a good lead over Azzurra. Quantum Racing managed to wriggle up to third which they held to the finish while Rán Racing stole fourth from Phoenix right on the finish line to ensure they finish the day on the same points aggregate as Azzurra.