Outwardly appearing cool and calm, owner-driver Harm Müller-Spreer commented:
“It is still very open. It is so close. This place will be shifty all the time. It will be open until the very last days. Last time, we saw so many situations here before. We have led before into the last day and then lost half the fleet, even more. I am not sure that the story is over yet. We, every day, try our best, and the speed is good, our confidence is good, the team spirit is good. It is really good. Maybe we get a little bit of luck and we can win it, just maybe.”
The contrast with last year could not be more pronounced. Last year in Cascais, Quantum Racing had a margin of 68 points when they clinched the circuit title with two days to go. Today, there are six teams within 68 points of the lead, and the circuit title is still wide open. Azzurra’s lead into Thursday is now six points – double what they started the regatta with – over Platoon, and 13pts on Quantum Racing.
In the flighty, unsettled N’ly breezes and bumpy seas these were probably the most difficult racing conditions of the season. After starting in 8-10kts of breeze, the wind faded fast on the second round, thwarting any hopes of getting the regatta schedule back on target. Thankfully, a more stable, SE’ly breeze and flatter seas, with sunshine, are expected for the next three days, the climax of the season.
As all three of the title contenders lined up side by side on the start line, it was Quantum Racing who profited from the better starting speed and positioning, Azzurra tacking away early. Terry Hutchinson and Michele Ivaldi read the beat perfectly to have Quantum Racing lead Azzurra around the top mark first. They extended nicely down the run with good pace in the difficult conditions. They even seemed to profit from choosing the preferred leeward gate mark, the right side looking upwind set, which was set with some noticeable bias. Platoon chose the left, stayed left, and made a nice gain up the beat to get themselves back in touch with their rivals.
But as the breeze faded down the last run, Quantum Racing were snared on the left side while Francesco Bruni and Morgan Larson on Bronenosec contrived to read the best of the last run, gaining on the opposite side of the track to score the race win and move to fourth overall. Platoon took second, also gaining down the latter part of the run, while third for Gladiator sees Tony Langley’s team on the same points tally as regatta leaders Azzurra.