Quantum Racing sling shot themselves off the start line for the first race of the Audi TP52 World Championship to take the early lead at the regatta in Porto Cervo, Italy.
The black and green hull of the American-flagged three times world champions came off a strong mid line position with clear air and speed, to jump out to a clear lead at the start of the 15 miles coastal race but even so there was very, very little in at the top turn.
The margins were tiny at the windward mark of a 1.5 mile 'pipe opening' sprint leg, but they really set the hierarchy there and then. Local favourites Azzurra had to duck leader Quantum Racing on the very final approach to the turn downwind, and simultaneously Niklas Zennström's title holders on Rán Racing had to duck them both, but that the was the order emerging at the first turn, and so it was too at the finish line two hours later.
In the light, seven to nine knots E'ly breeze, there were some small options on the five miles downwind leg to a turning mark by the little Tre Monte isle. But from there it proved to be the proverbial 'soldier's course', marching in file, following the wake of the boat in front on a speed test which saw few changes through the nine boat fleet from seven different nations. From the leeward turn it was a one tack beat or very tight reach to turn for a six miles fetch to the final corner and a short downwind in the fading breeze to the finish line.
Azzurra, winners in Capri last month and victors when the 52 SUPER SERIES was here last September, kept the pressure on Quantum Racing to the finish, but the crew which represents the hosts the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda had to be content with second. Rán Racing took third and Eduardo de Souza Ramos new team on Phoenix fourth.
"When Azzurra's breathing down your neck on their own home waters you know it is never over,"
said Quantum Racing's Terry Hutchinson, "And right up to that last mark when we went from a 95 deg wind reaching across to a 130 true wind, you are just thinking 'well Vasco has one more rabbit in his bag of tricks there'. The mistake would have been to think it was over. It was a bit of a procession after we got around the leeward mark in 'bomb alley' down there. So we had a straight upwind reach and then a six miles reach to the last mark, but all the time Azzurra were right there and always ready to capitalise on any mistake."
Up to three coastal races are planned at the Audi TP52 World Championship with light winds due to continue for the next couple of days.
Results: AUDI TP52 World Championship - Porto Cervo, Italy
Overall after 1 race
Quantum Racing, USA, (Doug De Vos USA) (1) 1pt
Azzurra, ITA, (Alberto Roemmers ARG) (2) 2pts
Rán Racing, SWE, (Niklas Zennström SWE) (3) 3pts
Phoenix, BRA, (Eduardo de Souza Ramos BRA) (4) 4pts
Gladiator, GBR, (Tony Langley GBR) (5) 5pts
Provezza 7, TUR, (Ergin Imre TUR) (6) 6pts
Hurakan, ITA, (Giuseppe Parodi ITA) (7) 7pts
Paprec, FRA, (Jean Luc Petithugenin FRA) (8) 8pts
B2, ITA, (Michele Galli ITA) (9) 9pts