Spookie Set the Pace in Portugal

Published on September 16th, 2015

Cascais, Portugal (September 16, 2015) – As the 52 SUPER SERIES moved to the Atlantic, the regatta standings at the Cascais Cup after the first two races reflect a certain American flavour.

Jim Swartz’s Vesper crew instantly made their long odyssey from the USA for their one and only 52 SUPER SERIES of the season worthwhile when they won the first race, while Steve Benjamin’s US team on Spookie followed up their second in the first race with a win in the second contest and so top the standings. And as the DeVos’ owned, American flagged Quantum Racing posted two good, solid third places in the testing conditions to lie second overall as they seek to win their second regatta in a row.

Cascais may be renowned for big winds and big waves, but it was only the latter which was most evident today. A big sea-state left over from an overnight storm made for difficult sailing especially in the shifty, patchy breeze. Over the course of the two races the wind ranged from 270 degrees to 320 degrees and blew between eight knots and 18kts. Changing gear and maintaining top speeds was vital at all times as was precise, accurate helming and great communication between the trimmers and the helm.

Spookie started well enough on both guns. A fundamental weakness identified from last month’s Copa del Rey regatta was turned to a strength today and owner-helm Steve Benjamin proved particularly adept at keeping the boat moving well in the changeable conditions which were so very different, a rude awakening even, after the Med’s primarily flat waters. The odd drizzly passage added a further reminder that summer is almost done.

Benjamin’s crew went right off the committee boat at the first start, Swartz went from the pin end left – offshore and it was Vesper, the fleet’s oldest boat, which sneaked around the top mark ahead. Quantum Racing chased Spookie across the finish line, poised one wave behind, to take third and complete the Americans’ 1-2-3.

After a front had dragged the wind direction to the right for a period, the second race got under way after a delay. Even so the wind was well to the right off the start line resulting in a very tight, compact grouping after the gun. With the breeze already slackening and shifting by the approach to the first mark, Spookie lead clearly around the first turn ahead. Up the second beat the wind died right away to just seven or eight knots – less in the holes – but Spookie proved invincible. Azzurra reversed their first race loss to Quantum Racing when they pulled through on the last run to take second. The series leaders scored 5,2 for the day, just one point behind Quantum Racing.

Peter Holmberg, tactician on Spookie, acknowledged the contribution played by Olympic silver medallist Steve Benjamin’s steering and highlights Spookie’s speed edge in the lighter winds and big seas:

“We have got Steve Benjamin driving which is a nice thing and I think our boat likes the lighter air so it was a good day for us. And we didn’t get in the way of the boats…so that was a good thing too. First race was even sides but I think it was the sides which were good so we picked the inside and first place came from the outside but it was very close. And I think just having a lane with the freedom to steer where you wanted to in those big waves was key also.”

Holmberg added: “After Palma we put everything on the table that we could improve upon and obviously there was plenty. The starts were the big thing for us and then downwind mode. It’s also your positioning so I have pushed ‘Benj’ to do a certain thing so my tactical options stayed open. Like just to stay in a low lane and not to be high so that we can dictate what we do and not be dictated to. But the start is still number one so ‘Benj’ and I have spent a little time talking about what we were going to do and then all the boat on boat situations and that was good.”

Results After Day One (2 races)
1. Spookie, USA (Steve Benjamin USA) (2,1) 3pts
2. Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (3,3) 6pts
3. Vesper USA (Jim Swartz USA) (1,6) 7pts
4. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (5,2) 7pts
5. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (4,5) 9pts
6. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (9,4) 13pts
7. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (6,9) 15pts
8. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (8,7) 15pts
9. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (7,8) 15pts
10. Paprec FRA (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (10,11) 21pts
11. Alegre, GBR (Andres Soriano USA) (12,10) 22pts
12. Xio/Hurakan, ITA (Guiseppe Parodi ITA) (11,12) 23pts

Event detailsSeries information

The 52 SUPER SERIES 2015 is a series of five European regattas
Ford Vignale Valencia Sailing Week, May 19th – 23rd, Valencia
Settimana delle Bocche, June 9th – 13th, Porto Cervo
52 World Championship Puerto Portals 2015, July 14th – 18th, Mallorca
34 Copa del Rey Mapfre, August 4th – 8th, Mallorca
Cascais Cup, September 16th – 20th, Cascais

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