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52 SuperSeries : Quantum Racing close out regatta leaders Audi Azzurra Sailing Team

17June2012_TP52Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Super Series

17-June-2012. Ed Baird and the Quantum Racing Team put their renowned match race skills to best effect when they all but closed out regatta leaders Audi Azzurra Sailing Team on the start line of the final race of the Audi Sardinia Cup, and so despatched the home favourites to a difficult fate.

Going on to take a final winning gun by a comfortable margin, the programme which won the 2011 TP52 World Championships on these same Costa Smeralda waters secured their second successive trophy regatta win on the 52 SuperSeries.

The one key move, in the final 20 seconds before the start of the one and only race today, shutting the door at the busy, sought after committee boat end of the start line, was typically assured by multiple world match race and America’s Cup winning Baird and a crew which has been bolstered this season by several of Baird’s past match racing teams, with a view to delivering in just such ‘must win’ situations.

On the very right sided course in a modest sea breeze there was, unfortunately, no way back for the iconic Azzurra team which started the final race with a lead of just one point over Quantum Racing.

Finishing fifth today Azzurra finish second in the regatta, three points behind Quantum Racing, ahead of Gladiator in third, RÁN fourth, Paprec Recyclage fifth and PowerPlay sixth overall. Quantum Racing's win contributed to Team USA winning the Audi Sardinia Cup, partnered by Iberdrola Soto40.

The French team on Paprec Recyclage, lead to the windward mark today ahead of Quantum, but acceded to the champions on the first downwind. But Stephan Neve and his team took great pleasure in their second place finish, atoning somewhat for their error on the coastal race.

But without doubt the French crew have proven conclusively that the IRC optimised boats with a largely amateur crew – some of whom have sailed together for more than 10 years – can be very competitive in this 52 SuperSeries fleet on a relatively modest budget on the boat which won the 2007 world championships in its launch year. They, and Peter Cunningham’s PowerPlay were always in the mix.

Costa Smeralda has again proven a happy hunting ground for Gladiator, the British flagged crew of Tony Langley. They finished third overall for the regatta, only once scoring in the lower half of the fleet.

Finishing second overall at this Audi Sardinia Cup, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team lie only three points behind the 52 SuperSeries leaders Quantum Racing.