Ngoni wins Soto 40 with race to spare


Tony Buckingham had already told alternate skipper Kevin Sproul to take the crew out to a celebration dinner for their three wins and two seconds start to the Soto 40 grand prix in Barcelona, and Sproul’s way of saying thank you included winning the event in Ngoni with a race to spare after another win and a second on today.

He had an eight-point margin over second-placed Iñaki Castañer’s Noticia IV and he has a further two-point margin over a second Spanish boat, the pre-season favourite Iberdrola, skippered by Jose-Maria Torcida.

So, avoiding unusual penalties, the most Sproul could score would be seven and the least Castañer could score is one. Job done. “We thought we were up to speed by the end of last season, so this has been a great regatta and a great start to the new season,” said Sproul.

Two solid wins for the last year’s TP2 Mediterranean champion, Quantum, put the Americans into joint first place, equal on points with Italy’s Azzurra, of the Trofeo Condo de Godo in the light winds off Barcelona.

A fifth in the first race of the day was enough, despite being second in the last, to push the British –campaigned but Swedish-owned Rán into third place. But the gap is only two points and there is a final race on Sunday which should decide everything.

“We can’t win this regatta any more, but we will try to win the last race and this has still been a very good start for us in the Super Series,” said Niklas Zennström, owner and helmsman of Rán. “We have a very professional set-up on the water, outstanding race management, and it is much more pleasant being based at the Royal Barcelona Yacht Club.”

He will also be taking his team in the 72-footer to the Maxi World Championship and trying to win the Middle Sea Race out of Malta in the autumn.  

With the wind all over the place in the mid-north Atlantic, places were constantly changing on the seventh leg of the Volvo round the world race from Miami to Lisbon.

The Chinese entry Sanya was constantly last but each of the other five boats has been in the lead at some time or another.

Approaching 1,800 miles to run, Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi crew had held on to the lead for over 24 hours and extended it to nearly 20 miles over the winner of legs five and six, Kenny Read’s American-flagged Puma.

In third place was the New Zealand-managed Spanish entry Camper and, struggling to emerge best from light winds which should give way to fast downwind conditions, Franck Cammas in Goupama was just two miles ahead of the overall race leader, Spain’s Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez.