New boats, new faces
Monday July 3rd 2006, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selectedWith the imminent arrival of the new Austrian boat C Quadrat Astro, the Breitling MedCup fleet for this week’s regatta in Castellon, the second of the season, will muster 19 boats.
The new Luca Brenta-designed boat is likely to only compete from Thursday this week, but this equals the fleet size for last month’s opening regatta of the season in Punta Ala.
They may have sailed as jubilant team-mates over the weekend in Valencia when Emirates Team New Zealand NZL 84 defeated Alinghi to win Act 12 and the 2006 America’s Cup season, but those bonds will be put aside when the core crews of Steve and Fred Howe’s Warpath, skippered and steered by Dean Barker, look to carry on where they left off in Punta Ala in May, keeping Peter de Ridder’s Mutua Madrilena behind them, also crewed by Emirates Team New Zealand.
Warpat h’s consistency in Punta Ala ultimately left Mutua Madrilena to second overall, despite four race wins from Ridder’s team which includes NZL 84’s strategist Ray Davies.
The end of the America’s Cup season and the recent conclusion of the Volvo Ocean Race around the world recently, this regatta will focus the minds and energies of more of the world's top sailors.
Newport RI owner John Coumantaros is no stranger to the TP52 class, racing on the inaugural Breitling MedCup circuit last year with his 2004 generation Farr design and in the US, but in Castellon he will be united with his brand new Mani Frers-designed Green Marine-built Bambakou for the first time.
The Frers design - the only one in the fleet - has already proven quick in preliminary tune up regattas in Palma in April, but this will be Coumnataros' first major event with his new boat. His crew includes Argentinian Olympic Tornado bronze medallist Santiago Lange as tactician/helm and American Star helm Mark Mendelblatt who has just won the Star class at the Kiel Week Olympic regatta.
Among the sailors ready to step up to the plate in Castellon, which hosts a Breitling MedCup TP52 circuit event for the first time, will be Vasco Vascotto - skipper of the circuit winning Pisco Sour last year. He will add his input to the already solid line up on Peter de Ridder's Mutua Madrilena.
Also crewed by a core of Emirates Team New Zealand sailors, they will be also joined by Dirk 'Cheese' de Ridder, fresh from taking second place on the Volvo Ocean Race with Paul Cayard's Pirates of the Caribbean. After taking second in Punta Ala, I's team are keen to make their mark again in Castellon.
"I am sure Castellon will be tougher. A few boats there did not have a good regatta and everyone will have taken steps to remedy that. We had a kind of a head start compared to boats which were just launched in Punta Ala. These guys will for sure get their act together and so the competition will be tougher and tighter. The score we had in Punta Ala with four bullets in a row just happens every now and then in your lifetime. My guess is that the boats who will sail top seven every race will end upon podium. So consistency again will be key."
The combined talents of Paul Cayard - fresh from finishing second in the Volvo Ocean Race with Pirates of the Caribbean - and Russell Coutts will be brought to bear for the first time on George Andreadis and Jaime Yllera's Lexus.
On Caixa Galicia skipper Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez will have the services of John Kostecki as tactician
Bribon sees the welcome return of Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking as strategist for helm, Ross Macdonald.
Among those who did not have a good Punta Ala regatta was the Irish owned TP 52 Global champion Siemens. Skipper Ian Walker has decided that he will now steer the boat himself until the end of the season. In search of better light airs speed they have a couple of new mainsails, which they hope will make a difference. Dee Smith, who finished fourth with Cristabella in Punta Ala, will now sail with Siemens.
"We had some crew changes since Miami and really we had maybe only papered over the cracks winning in the spring, but Ian feels that steering himself really should help our consistency which is what we are after." confirmed Siemens trimmer Simon Fry. "We are happy with Dee. We have seen the way he operates at regattas and he rarely has a bad one so we are looking forward to sailing with him."
Racing starts Wednesday with the programme running with one coastal race and six windward-leeward races. If conditions permit, the objective will be to run three races on one of the first two days of the regatta, with the coastal race running Friday allowing one final race to be contested Saturday.
"Castellon is a good venue where we should see some sea-breeze sailing. Typically we expect 10-15 knots and that should give some good racing. In Punta Ala there was a bit of a question mark over how some of the boats sailed. Some did not have good regattas, but we really expect that to be sorted out. A number of boats have made changes. It will certainly be interesting," comments Ignaci Triay, Technical Director of organisers, MedCup Management.
Entry List - Breitling MedCup - Trofeo Ciudad de Castellon (4-8th July 2006)
1. Aifos (ESP)
2. Anonimo (ITA)
3. Balearia (ESP)
4. Bambakou (USA)
5. Bribon (ESP)
6. Caixa Galicia (ESP)
7. C Quadrat Astro (AUT)
8. Cristabella (GBR)
9. FRAM (NOR)
10 Lexus (ESP)
11. Mutua Madrilena (ESP)
12. ONO (ESP)
13. Orlanda (ITA)
14. Platoon (GER)
15. Rush (USA)
16. Santa Ana (ESP)
17. Siemens (ESP)
18. Tau Ceramica Andalucia (ESP)