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Sibenik 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week in Croatia - Overall

by 52 Super Series 27 May 19:23 BST 23-27 May 2018

Doug DeVos's Quantum Racing team exorcised memories of a disappointing third overall in the 2017 season when they clinched top honours at the first event of the highly anticipated 2018 52 SUPER SERIES, the Šibenik 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week contested on Croatia's beautiful Dalmatian Coast.

Lead by Terry Hutchinson with Dean Barker on the helm, Quantum Racing closed out the regatta title with a seventh in an eventful final light wind race to win by five points over Platoon, the team which were second overall last year. Reigning season champions Azzurra, winners of the warm up PalmaVela regatta finished fourth.

It is the first time that Quantum Racing have won a 52 SUPER SERIES regatta since they triumphed at Quantum Key West Regatta in January 2017, the curtain-raiser to last year's six-event season. Their victory in Croatia was built on excellent starting and strong first beat strategies, very solid boat handling and is also testimony to their accelerated optimisation and learning process required because they only sailed their new boat three days before early May's Sail Racing PalmaVela pre-season warm up where they finished second to Azzurra.

But while they finished on top of the 12 boat fleet, which represents eight different nations, among the Quantum team there was some lingering disappointment that they were unable to hold on to all of the nine points margin they had when they went afloat this morning.

In the gentle sea breeze, Harm Müller-Spreer's Platoon and Hasso Plattner's circuit debutants on Phoenix escaped and were away around the first top mark in first and second as Quantum Racing rounded fourth. But Quantum uncharacteristically then dropped back to a seventh placed finish, their worst score of the week other than the eighth in the Coastal Race, in which they were over the start line too early.

Hutchinson was typically uncompromising about losing places today but confirmed that there was no shortage of motivation through what felt like an especially long winter because of their disappointing third last year.

"It was a long winter. Losing sucks." The Quantum Racing skipper emphasised, "It never stops hurting. The moment it stops hurting I should retire. But it absolutely motivates you. We're fortunate we have an incredible group of professionals, and everybody takes their job seriously, and I'm moaning about losing four boats downwind over the course of the regatta but we won the regatta. But, that said we never stop thinking about how we can get better."

He paid a warm tribute to the Quantum shore crew for the hard work in getting the boat ready on time after a very short build slot and also to their sailing team for always keeping the boat fast.

You never hear a tactician say 'well we were a little bit slow but man we were smart.' No. Always be as smart as you are fast. They did great work."

As the active racing unit of the American Magic America's Cup team, the winning Quantum Racing crew line up for 2018 sees the return of Matt Cassidy (USA) in the mid bow role, Maciel Cichetti (ARG) join as trimmer, Cooper Dressler (USA) as grinder and Barker on the helm.

The core crew – with Barker and Hutchinson – tuned up their boat on boat skills and comms when they contested the Ficker Cup and the Congressional Cup in the USA in late April, laying down their key foundation skills together. That has mostly paid handsomely as Quantum Racing have consistently been the best starters, with the exception of the coastal race where they were judged to be over the start.

Victory in the last race for Harm Müller-Spreer's Platoon was enough to return them to runners up overall at the expense of Takashi Okura's Sled. With the chance to secure second, which would have been their best ever regatta finish since joining the circuit in Ibiza at the end of the 2014 season, Sled fouled Paprec in the final seconds of the start sequence and had to immediately take a penalty.

They started off the line in 11th and could only recover to tenth and so Sled slid to third overall. It is the third time they have finished on the third step of a regatta podium after thirds in Miami in 2014, Valencia in 2015 and at the end of the 2016 season in Cascais.

Sled's tactician Ray Davies commented:
"It's a bit disappointing because the team's been going really well, the boat's going really well, and we had a chance for holding onto second there. But all in all we're stoked with how it's going. Finishing third we could have banked that at the beginning of the regatta we would have done so for sure, so we're pretty happy. We've got plenty of things to work on and it feels like we are actually getting better every day, which is really really important. It's very exciting, everyone's really motivated, it's a great group of people and Mr. Okura is really a fantastic helmsman so that makes it fun."

From second-placed Platoon John Kostekci said:
"You can't play it safe otherwise you'll be in the back, you've gotta kind of go for it.. We have little things that we can improve upon: with our boat speed and tighten up tactically and boathandling, just a lot of little things but I'm sure we'll be a better team at the next regatta in Zadar. It's probably going to be light air again there and it'll be tricky, so it's going to come down to good starts and good first beats."

Quantum Racing's winning scoreline included three first places, one third, two fourth places, a seventh and that eighth in the coastal race, heading to the second event of the season in nearby Zadar – in just 23 days time – with a 2018 52 SUPER SERIES circuit lead of five points on Platoon and 12 points on Sled.

The strength in depth of the 2018 fleet is nothing short of remarkable. With nine new boats in the fleet it was instructive to see Hasso Plattner's Phoenix take second in the final race, and Luna Rossa scored their best finish yet – crossing third in the final race. If the last race was a heartbreaker for the Sled team so too there was a tinge of disappointment for Eduardo de Souza Ramos' crew of Onda. With Robert Scheidt calling tactics they crossed the finish in fifth, but as 2017's circuit champions Azzurra beat Quantum Racing right on the finish line, that was just enough to give Azzurra fourth overall at the regatta on double countback. In fact both teams scored one second and one third apiece and it was down to Azzurra's two fourth places that earned them fourth overall.

The first visit ever to Croatia for the TP52 class has proven immensely popular. The gentle sea breezes have been challenging but have kept the very evenly-matched fleet extremely close and compact. There have been no easy gains, pin sharp starting has been key to success. Five different TP52 teams have won races, Platoon (2), Quantum Racing (3), Sled, Paprec, and Provezza.

Overall Results:

1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (4,1,8,1,4,1,3,7) 29pts
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,4,3,5,7,3,10,1) 34pts
3. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (12,3,1,8,3,2,2,10) 41pts
4. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (3,10,10,4,2,7,4,6) 46pts
5. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (2,7,5,3,10,6,8,5) 46pts
6. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (7,5,9,9,5,4,7,3) 49pts
7. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (9,8,6,2,8,8,6,4) 51pts
8. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (8,6,11,6,6,11,5,2) 55pts
9. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (5,9,4,7,12,9,1,9) 56pts
10. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (6,12,2,12,1,10,9,12) 64pts
11. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (10(+2 PEN),2,7,11,9,5,12,8) 66pts
12. XIO Hurakan (ITA) (Marco Serafini) (11,11,12,10,11,12,11,11) 89pts

Quotes:

John Kostecki (USA) tactician Platoon (GER):

On the new boat:
"We like it, we have a lot more to learn though. We've been learning a lot every day and we're getting better, but we have a ways to go, so that's the good news. We can be faster, which helps."

On Quantum:
"They sailed well, were able to achieve to get off the line better, and were porbably a little bit smarter at times. They sailed really well all regatta. We test with them every day and there's not a whole lot in it, so it comes down to who's going to sail better."

On the level of the fleet:
"It's definitely up a notch, with more boats as well, so it's by far the best racing, it's great."

On Zadar:
"We have little things that we can improve upon: with our boat speed and tighten up tactically and boathandling, just a lot of little things but I'm sure we'll be a better team there. It's probably going to be light air again there and it'll be tricky, so it's going to come down to good starts and good first beats. You can't play it safe otherwise you'll be in the back, you've gotta kind of go for it."

Ray Davies (NZL) tactician Sled (USA):
"We took a penalty from the French... We didn't complete our tack onto starboard and they flagged us and it was fair enough. So very disappointing that e coughed up an unforced error that put us well behind the rest of the fleet. Then we had a really good first beat that got us back into the group ahead of us, and then tried to setup for a pass down the run but our side didn't really work, so we came in with good speed at the bottom but just missed catching quite a few boats. Then we were back in the pack again.

Third is a bit disappointing because the team's been going really well, the boat's going really well, and we had a chance for holding onto 2nd there. But all in all we're stoked with how it's going. Finishing 3rd, if we could have banked that at the beginning of the regatta we would have done so for sure, so we're pretty happy with how it's all going. We've got plenty of things to work on, it feels like we are actually getting better every day, which is really really important. It's very exciting, everyone's really motivated, it's a great group of people and Mr. Okura is really a fantastic helmsman so that makes it fun."

Terry Hutchinson (USA) tactician Quantum Racing (USA):
"I thought on the first run we were actually doing the right thing and the breeze went against us, so then the second run was a reaction to the first run, I just didn't back myself. That's disappointing, you have to sail with confidence, the guys did such a good job all week long really, with a boat that's new, but I'm being critical, it's good to win!"

On the venue:
"It was a difficult venue. First time here and it's really difficult. The subtleties in the breeze, the starting strategy was important in how you position the boat to be far enough right but not so far right that you fell out of the pressure that was in the center and on the left hand side of the race course. So that was our game plan. We never had huge commitment to either side but we were fast enough out of the middle and as a tactician that's an awesome weapon to have."

On the shore team:
"I can't say enough good things about the Quantum Racing shore team for getting us our boat. They had their backs against the wall, when you consider the boat hadn't started construction until January 30th, so the fact that we're here is a massive testimony to Brendan and the boys. Huge compliments to Longitude Zero for doing the work that they did for getting the boat here for us. And Dean and Ciccho and Dougie and Sean, you never hear a tactician say 'well we were a little bit slow but man we were smart.' No always be as smart as you are fast. They did great work."

The new crew:
"We have Matt Cassidy back, who went off to sail with Oracle in the America's Cup. We have Cooper Dressler, who's 26 years old, lives in San Diego California and has arms as big as both of my legs! And we have Cicho, who's part of the American Magic America's Cup Team and came from Azzurra. We've had great team members in the past and have always been fortunate to have really great sailors on the boat, but the new energy is really, really good. It's an absolute positive influence to the boat."

On the American Magic Team:
"We've spent the last 15 months getting the designers organized. I say we but really Adolfo Carrau has been telling me what we need to do and between him and Marcelino Botin they've assembled a really good group of people, a smart group of people, experienced, some old and some new. So time will tell. We're 36 months out from the Cup so time will tell how it all goes."

Looking to Zadar:
"We have to analyse boat positioning downwind. Early on in the breeze, it's kind of a game of two halves, over the course of the regatta we were minus 4 from the first top mark downwind. Yesterday's and this morning's debrief was about trying to win our side a little bit more downwind, and it's just hard when the decision is wrong. That's firmly on my shoulders, and coach will tell me what I'm doing wrong, and he and I will argue about it relentlessly, but with the change in helm for the next regatta (Doug DeVos coming in) and Dean will slide into the strategy role, and his help there will be invaluable."

www.52superseries.com

Azzurra is at the foot of the podium at the first event in the 52 Super Series (from Azzurra)

Azzurra completed racing at the Šibenik 52 Super Series Sailing Week in fourth place. The first event in the 2018 Series was won by Quantum. Podium finishes also go to Platoon, who won today's only race, and Sled. The second event in the Series will be the 52 Super Series Zadar Royal Cup, held from June 20th to 24th in Zadar, Croatia.

On the final day of racing at the Šibenik 52 Super Series the wind took its time to fill in. Principal Race Officer Maria Torrijo called the first start at 2:20 when a light breeze from the southwest at eight knots finally kicked in after hours of waiting. Rules state that on the final day of an event racing can't begin after 3 PM, so today there was just one race in very unstable and shifty conditions that were difficult to read and predict.

The probability of Azzurra's getting a podium finish were reduced with just one race, but the team gave it their all even though in the end things didn't go their way. Azzurra got a fairly good and conservative start at the centre but was soon covered by her competitors who slowed her down and reduced her tactical options. Eighth at the upwind mark, Azzurra kept fighting and never gave up, defending her position as well as she could even though she was covered at times. She recovered positions and finished sixth, and the race was fun to watch especially when she passed Quantum at the finish line after rolling Gladiator towards the end of the final run. Tactician Santiago Lange, skipper and helmsman Guillermo Parada and the whole team showed their stuff today, even though the end result didn't do them justice.

Azzurra is tied for points with Onda, the Brazilian team with Olympic legend Robert Scheidt as tactician. From this highly competitive fleet of twelve teams participating in this first event in the 52 Super Series Quantum Racing, with their new helmsman Dean Barker and Terry Hutchinson aboard, has emerged victorious. This team is racing here as part of the American Magic campaign for the 36th America's Cup. Platoon, first runner up in last year's Series, is second after having placed second in today's only race thanks to sailing on the right hand side of the course. Third place overall goes to Sled, who got an OCS penalty today and finished tenth.

The second event in the 2018 Series will be the 52 Super Series Zadar Royal Cup, held from June 20th to 24th in Zadar, Croatia.

Pablo Roemmers, Owner: "First of all we have to thank our hosts here in Šibenik, they have a beautiful marina and have set up excellent courses. It hasn't been easy because the winds have been so shifty, but the place is beautiful and coming here has been very worthwhile. We had some difficulties during competition, competing against nine new boats and in a fleet that is really very tight, but we're happy with our fourth place, we really had to suffer for it."

Guillermo Parada, skipper: "Conditions were very unstable today. We didn't get the best start and when we decided to tack to the right three boats tacked on us, one right after the other. So we fell back and from there on we needed to keep alert and take advantage of any possible chance for gain. I think we got a good recovery and I think it's enough for us to end this event fourth overall. It's not the greatest start but at least we finished this week knowing what we have to do. We're looking forward to the next event in Zadar."

Santiago Lange, tactician: "It wasn't an easy week and things didn't always go our way but I'm very happy with the team. We made some mistakes and need to keep improving, that's clear, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. From here I'm going to sail in the Nacra World Cup Series Final in Marseilles, a few days of training and then the event. I'm happy to keep racing and I'm sure we'll finish this season strong."

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