Nip and tuck all the way, the fan master in the sky pressed the on button, produced a steadily strengthening breeze, and set up some furiously close racing, three of them, on the third day of the Murcia trophy. He also brought a ration of woe.
The fourth of the five regattas in the Audi MedCup series saw a pair of wins for the Italians on Azzurra, but the consistency of two seconds and a third kept Spain’s Bribon, possibly in her final season, at the top of the leaderboard.
A sixth, a fourth, and a seventh for what looked like a disconsolate Quantum dumped them to fifth overall in this regatta. This team ruled the roost until the Kiwis came along to blow it off its perch but has built a new boat for this season and was looking like the boat to beat.
Instead Quantum is 13 points off the lead – not an insurmountable problem – and in sore need of some authority and confidence. “We need to sail better together,” said tactician and former British Olympian Adrian Stead afterwards. “We were struggling in the lumpy stuff and need to set thee boat up for that.” It looked more serious than that.
In contrast, the Italians, who will also host a class world championship at their home Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in October, have the bit between their teeth and the Germans, with a four, three, two, dragged themselves up to third overall, but six points behind the Azzurra team.
It was all pretty miserable, too, for Niklas Zennström’s Hamble-based Rán until the final, bumpiest race of the day, when a fourth partly salved the pain of a seventh and a sixth but, as Rán took up the backmarker position, the evening debrief could have been even unhappier, though probably less fiery, than for Quantum.
“This is as tough as anything and radically different from anything other regatta,” said US-based Kiwi tactician Gavin Brady. “It’s just frustratingly hard. You can hit not just one bad wave but six in a row. This tested the sum total of all our experience and this is not a team that is used to being in last place. We need to dig our way out of this.”
Doing almost too well, Kevin Sproul, standing in for owner Tony Buckingham, banged in another win for Ngoni in the Soto 40 division. A last gasp second, by two seconds, after twisting a spinnaker, in the second race means a record of two wins and a second easily keeps them in the lead, by five points, of their class overall.
Buckingham hopes to be back for the circuit finale in Barcelona next month with Sproul reverting to tactician but knowing he can hand over a boat which has been improving its speed. Buckingham is what might be called a competitive soul; he will relish the challenge if his boat sails as well in the final two days as it has in the first two.
The TP52s have a coastal race in Saturday’s diary and two inshores on Sunday while the Soto 40s have two inshores Saturday and one on Sunday.