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Audi TP52 World Championship - Epic battle in Porto Cervo    
Fri, 13 Jun 2014

Four of the nine boats competing in the Audi TP52 World Championship were at the centre of a spectacular 30-mile coastal race that, despite lasting the best part of three hours, provided incredibly tight racing and kept everyone on the edge of their seats to the very last. Niklas Zennstrom's Rán was the victor in the end ahead of Quantum Racing, skippered by Ed Baird, and Phoenix, owned by Eduardo Souza Ramos. Quantum's second place leaves her holding on to a slim lead in the overall classification, just one point ahead of Rán, with home team Azzurra in third. Racing in the event, organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, will continue tomorrow with the fleet reverting to more familiar windward-leeward racing and all to play for.

The Race Committee decided early on to set a course that took the fleet on a long upwind leg through Bomb Alley to round the island of Spargi before embarking on an equally long downwind run to the finish. After yesterday's forced stay on the docks due to lack of wind, crews nervously waited for the shifty, light breeze to fill in but after repositioning the line the committee boat was able to give the first warning for the start at 13.40 with 10 knots of Mistral wind. What followed was a sustained battle between Quantum Racing and Provezza - in the lead for much of the upwind leg - as well as Phoenix and Rán. After numerous lead changes and a thrilling tacking duel on the last stretch to the finish, the Swedish boat crossed the line only 21 seconds ahead of Quantum with the entire fleet finishing within just two minutes.

UK sailor Adrian Stead, three-time TP52 World Champion and tactician aboard Ran was clearly happy with a good day's work: 'It was a coastal race well worth waiting for. We had a lovely long beat up to Spargi and then the spinnaker leg back, lots of place changing. The front four boats were all very close the whole way through and it was a case of hanging in with the group and hoping for the chance to get past. We managed to get our nose in front just off La Maddalena and then we had to defend really hard once we'd come through the Bisce on the last leg to the finish. It was a really good race. I'd say one of the best coastal races we've done.'

Tony Rey, calling tactics on Provezza was also satisfied, despite having lost ground on the downwind leg: 'We had a fantastic day, we were first and finished fourth, so we're supposed to be sad but for our team it was a really good result. We've gotten a lot better from last year so there are a lot of positives. It was a fantastic race. On the last leg we got passed and because of that we had difficulty getting to the favoured side right at the mark and we lost metres from there.'

Team wills be back on the starting line tomorrow at 12 midday. A light Mistral breeze of around eight knots is forecast.

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52 Super Series

by Jill Campbell/Donata Cuppone

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