Photo © Rick Tomlinson / www.rick-tomlinson.com
Photo © Ingrid Abery / www.ingridabery.com
Photo © Ingrid Abery / www.ingridabery.com
Racing at the Gaastra 52 World Championships off South Beach Miami had to be abandoned today, Thursday, when the light, fickle breezes proved too little to complete a fair race.
Race 5 of the series was started and ran in very light, streaky and shifty conditions. After over an hour and within only 300 metres of the shortened finish line at the second top mark, Tony Langley's Gladiator was ahead of the pack when the time limit cruelly expired. Mark Blees' Gaastra Pro crew with John Cutler (NZ) calling tactics was on course for a second place – which could have been the best of the regatta so far - when the abandon signal was sounded.
A short wait in the warm Miami sunshine followed before it became clear that there was little prospect of an increase in breeze and so the eight boat fleet was sent back to the dock.
Several teams filed for redress in their belief that the leg length was not as it was supposed to be and that there were other procedural anomalies, but the International Jury dismissed the requests.
Chris Larson (USA) tactician of Gladiator (GBR) outlined their request:
"There were several things. The course distance was longer than it was supposed to be, about a tenth and a half longer than it should have been. There were two ways to read the time limit, as well as other things."
"It was always going to be two breezes fighting each other. I told the boys we would see a lot of crazy stuff going on today and we had just that. It was tough."
John Cutler remained objective on the outcome of the redress request:
"It was a light and shifty race which had worked out well for us. We managed to find a few shifts and sail quite a nice race. As we were coming up to what was looking likely to be a good finish for us the time limit expired. Now we have just been in the protest room looking for redress but the Jury has found the facts that the race committee can abandon if they feel the race will not finish within the time limit. That is what the rules say and we will move on."
Winds are expected to be more favourable Friday, the penultimate day of racing. As it stands championship leaders remain Rán Racing who lead by one point from Azzurra with Quantum Racing in third just one point back.
Results after Day 3: (four races)
1 Rán Racing (Zennström, SWE) 10pts (7,1,1,1)
2 Azzurra (Roemmers, ITA) 11 pts (1,2,3,5)
3 Quantum Racing (De Vos, USA) 12pts (3,4,2,3)
4 Gladiator (Langley, GBR) 17pts (2,6,5,4)
5 Vesper (Swartz, USA) 19pts (5,5,7,2)
6 Interlodge (Fragomen, USA) 22pts (4,7,4,7)
7 Rio (Moshayedi, USA) 25pts (8, 3,8,6)
8 Gaastra-Pro (Blees, NED) 28pts (6,8,6,8)
Racing cancelled a stone's throw from finish line (from Azzurra Sailing Team)
The extremely light and unstable breeze forces the fleet to be out of time limit
Azzurra had a great start and managed to sail with caution and concentration in the light winds. When racing was cancelled, Azzurra was approaching the finish line in third place behind Gladiator and Gaastra-Pro while Quantum was trailing the rest of the fleet.
This is what Simon Fry, gennaker trimmer, had to say about today's action: "We had an excellent start. Our plan was to immediately go on port and I could say that the two best starts in the fleet were ourselves and Gladiator. We had a really, really good first beat and a good run despite it being snakes and ladders. You could go up and down. At the bottom mark, Vesper and ourselves were tight together, leading and then, unfortunately, the wind died. The race committee decided to abandon the race and there is now confusion and many boats are requesting a redress because the length of the course was different to the one broadcast on the radio".
The Jury then discarded the request for redress and validated the decision by the Race Committee to cancel the day's only race. As a result, the event's overall scoretable remains unchanged.
Vasco Vascotto, tactician, commented: "The Race Committee made errors that were acknowledged but that didn't change the final decision which clearly penalizes Azzurra over her more direct adversaries. They proved lucky but I do hope that Lady Luck decides soon to look with kindness our way as well."
Racing for the Gaastra 52 World Championship will continue on Friday, March 8th at 12:30pm local time (6:30pm Italian time). We will be posting live updates from the race course on Azzurra's Facebook page and Twitter account. Live audio commentary in English is available on www.52superseries.com while live tracking from Virtual Eye can be found on our official website www.azzurra.it