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20 September 2012, 11:13 am
Audi Azzurra Sailing Team Seize Early Initiative At Audi Valencia Cup
Looking for an edge
Looking for an edge

52 Super Series
Valencia, Spain

After three races off Valencia in brisk winds and an awkward chop Audi Azzurra Sailing Team lead the Audi Valencia Cup, the final event of the season- long 52 Super Series.
Having to drop their gennaker and take their penalty turns before finishing properly, the team, skippered by Guillermo Parada, dropped to a fifth place finish.

If the Audi Azzurra Team finished their day upset at their costly error on the finish line, they still took some considerable satisfaction in having trimmed Quantum Racing's overall lead on the 52 Super Series standings from six points to three points.

"It was the perfect day until the last 30 seconds,"
smiled Azzurra's navigator Bruno Zirilli.

While the Audi Azzurra Sailing Team were otherwise on great form, leading all three races, Quantum Racing - the championship leaders - looked distinctly shaky at times. In the first race the series leader finished fifth in the five boat fleet. They improved with a third and second but remain fourth overall, locked on the same 10 points tally as Rán - winners of the third race - and Gladiator.

The first race was contested in 12-14kts of north easterly breeze and Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, with Parada steering and Vasco Vascotto and Francesco Bruni combining on tactics and strategy, made the best start but as they duelled to the right of the upwind, trading tacks with Quantum Racing, the duo lost out to the group which went left.

Audi All4One led around the windward mark but on the final run smart tactics and good speed saw Audi Azzurra Sailing Team just pipping the Franco-German team on the finish line.

The second win was more decisive for Audi Azzurra Sailing Team. They lead at the first mark and extended on the first run, going on to win by over 90 seconds from Audi All4One.

Jochen Schuemann's team looked to be set for a consistent day but their jib cunningham blew up in the third race, costing them some minutes to repair it. But thanks to Audi Azzurra Sailing Team's error on the finish line, they took fourth and so lie second overall on the Audi Valencia Cup standings by just one point.

In the third race Audi Azzurra Sailing Team looked to be in command, leading down the final run. But all of the race had been sailed with a dark cloud over the centre of the leg, yielding two different breezes on the extreme sides of the course. Rán challenged from second at the final windward mark with consistently better use of the breeze. They were just far enough ahead to squeeze across the line to win as the big gust hit, heading them and destroying their spinnaker. Quantum Racing accelerated over Azzurra in the puff to take second, while the erstwhile race leader grazed the rolling committee boat's antenna with their kite.

Quantum Racing's tactician Andy Horton summed up their lacklustre day, "Honestly we just need to sharpen up in every single department. We are just getting used to be being back on the boat. We all have not been on it for a while.

"It is a little bit of everything, we will have it straightened out for tomorrow, we will have it out of our system."

Standings Audi Valencia Cup after 3 races
1. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA) - 7 pts (1,1,5)
2. Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One (FRA/GER) - 8pts (2,2,4)
3. Rán (SWE) - 10pts (4,5,1)
4. Quantum Racing (USA) - 10pts (5,3,2)
5. Gladiator - 10pts (3,4,3)

52 Super Series, Overall Ranking
1. Quantum Racing (USA) - 63.5pts
2. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA) - 66.5pts
3. Rán Racing (SWE) - 79.5pts
4. Gladiator (GBR) - 103pts
5. Audi ALL4ONE (GER.FRA) - 119.5pts
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