Quantum leaps back from disaster. Andy Rice reports on the snakes and ladders of the first day's racing

They say it’s not your good races, but your bad ones, that win you sailing regattas. By which I suppose they mean that it’s how you bounce back from your bad moments that determines whether you’ll win or not. Quantum Racing don’t make life easy for themselves sometimes, as we saw in today’s second race of the Portugal Trophy, the final leg of the six-event Audi MedCup Circuit. Terry Hutchinson’s team were in the top group approaching the first windward mark, the only trouble being that chief threat to their series lead, Bribon, were sitting just to windward of them. Eventually on the port layline Quantum tacked on to port, hoping that Dean Barker would do the same aboard Bribon. He did, but with boats approaching on the starboard layline, with the law on their side, these two rivals were obliged to tack again in unison, and they both luffed head to wind in a bid to make it cleanly round the mark.

They did get round the mark – just – but protest flags came out as both teams started gesticulated wildly at each other on the spacer leg before the spinnaker hoist. As is always the case in protest situations, in the heat of the moment both teams believe they are right and that they have suffered a gross injustice at the hands of their rival. But clearly it didn’t take Hutchinson long to realise that he has a good deal more to lose than Barker. With a 41.2 point series lead at the beginning of the regatta, Bribon is going to have to rely on Quantum taking a serious stumble, and here was just such an opportunity. So Quantum did the sensible, defensive thing and took some penalty turns, a 720 degree turn equating to a lot of distance in today’s conditions, as the rest of the fleet tore off down the track in the Force 4 breeze.

But would you believe it! The green boat chips away at the competition and just three legs later at the finish the Americans cross in 8th place. Even more impressive was Mutua Madrilena’s climb from last (15th place) at the first mark to 4th by the finish. The great thing about TP52 racing is that it’s so tight everyone is mucking everybody else up – which means that even if you stuff up the start or have to take turns, you still have a great chance of getting back into contention. It does also mean, however, that the leader tends to profit from everybody else’s snakes and ladders. Bribon won the first race by 17 seconds – doesn’t sound a lot but it looks a lot in this fleet. Far more impressive was Rusal Synergy’s 55-second victory in race 2, by a team that rarely threatens the front of the fleet. It goes to show that in a fleet of this calibre, every dog can have his day.

Standings after three races:
Place, Boat name, Nationality, R1 R2 R3, Points
1. Quantum USA (4,8,1) 13
2. Audi Q8 ITA(2,9,2) 13
3. Synergy RUS (9,1,4) 14
4. El Desafio ESP (10,2,3) 15
5. CXG Corporacion Caixa Galicia ESP (7,3,9) 19
6. Mutua Madrilena ESP (12,4,5) 21
7. Tau Andalucia ESP(3,14,6) 23
8. Matador ARG (8,5,10) 23
9. Bribon ESP (1,11,12) 24
10. Artemis SUE (5,7,13) 25