Tony Langley and his core crew of Gladiator, complemented this week by American tactician Chris Larson and Spanish navigator Nacho Postigo, bolted together two excellent races in very light, streaky winds to lead the Audi TP52 World Championship off Porto Cervo's Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Sardinia on countback after the first day of racing.
Langley and his team never let the late season heat get to them, neither that extra warmth generated by the unseasonably fierce Autumn sunshine, nor that applied by the very evenly matched, now highly TP52 optimised fleet.
Larson guided owner-driver Langley intelligently in the very gentle breezes, making two clean, clear air starts, sailing quick and keeping clear of the early, first beat traffic.
Against the crop of 2011 launches, Gladiator
, the 2009 build Vrolik designed former Artemis, lacked nothing for light airs speed in spite of their compact sail programme winning the second race by nearly three minutes.
Added to their third in the first race of this World Championship, Gladiator
's win leaves them only just ahead of Quantum Racing
Ed Baird's American team won the first race convincingly but had the Spanish crew of Paramount Park Murcia (
ESP), skippered by Gonzalo Araújo (ESP) with Ross MacDonald (CAN) calling tactics, slip away from them right on the finish line. The resulting third place relegated Quantum Racing to second overall.
Winds, from the north west then east of north, never quite reached nine knots at any stage. In these exacting conditions clear starts were key, as was minimising interaction with other boats and reading the best lanes of wind pressure.
"That is the best result we have had in a day and we have never lead any regatta at this level, so it feels really good,"
said Langley. "You hope all the work and effort we all put in over the season will pay off one day, and never really expect it to, but here we are."
"Chris was spotting shifts early and positioning us nicely when we were coming into traffic and for me that made all the difference. So I am very happy,"
smiled Langley. "But we wont be letting it get to our heads, there is a long way to go yet."
were quickest off the start line of Race 1 and were a steady leader by the first windward mark, ahead of Markus Wieser (GER) and the crew of Container
The German team proved slick in the light conditions, taking second, but they were over the start line in the second race. Having to re-start left them to round the course in seventh.
"It was a very streaky breeze. As our coach Francesco de Angelis said to us, it was like a road with many potholes and you had to avoid them,"
summarised Ado Stead (GBR) the Quantum Racing
tactician. "We came out of today with four points over two pretty tricky races, ending Day 1 tied for the lead of the World Championship, which is not too bad."
Second place in the second race leaves Paramount Park Murcia, the team led by Araújo, MacDonald and Ignacio Triay, lying third overall, two points off the best aggregate of Gladiator
and Quantum Racing
Audi TP52 World Championship
Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
Standings after Day 1, 2 races.
(GBR) 3+1= 4 points
2. Quantum Racing
(USA) 1+3= 4 points
3. Paramount Park Murcia
(ESP) 4+2= 6 points
(GER) 2+7= 9 points
5. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team
(IT) 5+4= 9 points
(SWE) 6+5= 11 points
7. Audi ALL4ONE
(GER) = 13 points