Azzurra secured their fourth 52 SUPER SERIES championship title today as they played out a dream scenario. On their own home club’s waters in the north of Sardinia on the last day of the closest and most competitive season in the eight year history of the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit the Roemmers’ family’s team, which races for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, won the 2019 championship.
After a spirited head-to-head against Platoon, which spanned three, intense, three-race days, Azzurra clinched the 2019 title with one race to spare. Competing in perfect, champagne sailing conditions – 20 knots of northwesterly wind and sparkling September sunshine – a smart solo move on the final downwind of the second race today allowed them to finally put enough points on Harm Müller-Spreer’s German-flagged rivals to finally render the emblematic YCCS crew uncatchable.
Lead by Argentine skipper-helm Guillermo Parada with compatriot and long-time friend, Olympic champion Santiago Lange calling tactics, the Azzurra crew add to the 52 SUPER SERIES season titles won in 2012, 2015 and 2017 and draw back level, at four titles apiece, matching the record of 2018 champions Quantum Racing who today finished the season in third, just two points behind Platoon.
The core of the successful Azzurra crew have been together for more than five years, the team philosophy being to minimise line-up changes. After finishing fourth at the opening regatta in Menorca in May, time and again they seemed to come painfully close to regatta victories, successively in Puerto Sherry, in Cascais and again at last month’s Rolex TP52 World Championship at Puerto Portals. In Andalucia, Puerto Sherry they were second by one point behind Provezza, denied by only few seconds. The story repeated in Portugal in July where a couple of tiny seconds – a metre – allowed Quantum Racing the win. And then at the end of the Mallorcan event last month there were just two points between them and new world champions Platoon.
Each time Parada has said he would trade the transient pain of missing out for the lasting joy of lifting the 52 SUPER SERIES trophy tonight in their own home yacht club, and for all that the 2019 title victory would mean for the team’s owners, the extended crew and the supportive members of a proud yacht club whose Azzurra history dates back to the America’s Cup challenges from 1983.
Lange, who celebrated his 58th birthday this week, will not race with Azzurra next season as he focuses on securing a fourth Olympic medal. Although he did not win a regatta over the two years he has sailed on Azzurra since replacing Vasco Vascotto, this 52 SUPER SERIES title victory means the world to him.
It was hard for the Platoon team to hide their disappointment. Winners in Mahón at the start of the season and last month collecting their second Rolex TP52 World Championship title in three years, Platoon lost points in Cascais and Mallorca and finish runners up for the third year in a row.
After five years on the circuit and three podium finishes, Takashi Okura’s Sled also completed a dream finish to their 2019 season winning the Audi 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week Porto Cervo 2019 regatta title. Mr Okura’s crew were in a class of their own showing remarkable speed round the whole race track, not least off the start line. They scored five back-to-back race wins over yesterday and today, a record not seen since Quantum Racing in 2013 when the level of the fleet was much lower.