Siemens on top

Walker and co on board Eamon Conneely's TP 52 get into the groove at the Breitling MedCup TP52 regatta in Castellon

Thursday July 6th 2006, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selected
With two races still to go at this Breitling MedCup TP52 regatta in Castellon, Ian Walker and the crew of Eamon Coneely’s Siemens are firmly on the trail to redemption after a brutally disappointing showing at the first regatta of the season in Punta Ala in May.

Winning the first of today’s two races and then placing third in the second contest the Reichel Pugh designed Siemens, which was launched last summer, holds the overall lead on the strength of countback over Inaki Castener’s ONO, the Botin Carkeek design which won last year as Picso Sour. After five races both share the same points tally, 22 points.

The points table could scarcely be closer. In third place Vicente Tirado’s Farr designed Caixa Galicia and Alessandro Pirera’s fourth placed Orlanda - a Botin & Carkeek sistership to ONO - are four points behind on 28 points.

While the first race proved a similar pattern to Wednesday’s races, with the left, inshore side of the course paying a regular dividend. But in the second race today as the breeze faded and shifted to the right there were some useful gains to be made.

Staying in step with these changes on each successive round Orlanda, steered by Luna Rossa’s Francesco Bruni, took their first winning gun of the season.

Clean starting in clear air was vital in the first race. Tom Stark’s Rush, with Tomasso Chieffi calling the tactics, sneaked around the first mark overlapped with Stuart Robinson’s Santa Ana, with the Farr designs trading the lead on the short dog-leg to the downhill turn.

Rounding third at the first buoy, it was on the final downwind leg that Siemens held out left for longer, gaining extra pressure and a favourable slant, to overtake Rush and Santa Ana.

In the second race Orlanda was quick to reap the benefit of going to the favoured right side, as Francesco Bruni recalls: “We were looking at the wind before the start and we decided we liked the right side. We saw some cruising boats and they looked like they were in good pressure and we decided to go right. We had a very good start and on the first wind shift we were lifted ten degrees, a beautiful shift. At the first cross of the fleet we were well ahead and from there it was pretty easy.

“At the finish of the first run we made the biggest gains when we went to the left hand buoy (looking down the course) and tacked off right and got a lot more pressure again. That was the biggest gain for us.

ONO is kind of interesting to see how big a step they have made since Punta Ala, but I think we have made the biggest step when it is light. We had a shocker in Punta Ala in the light breeze.

“We had serious problems with the mast in Punta Ala which we did not realise and we seem to have that sorted, so we were pretty far off. So, speaking with the designers of the boat, we made a big change and we have a couple of new downwind sails which are making a big difference. It is pretty easy to gain a lot of speed downwind with a good downwind sail.”

Orlanda won by over two minutes from Caixa Galica. With John Kostecki on tactics for Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez, Caixa gained six places on the first downwind, holding right after their opposition had gybed.

The second heat was more of an opportunist’s race with the breeze shifting right most of the time but with an interlude when it was in the left just to keep the tacticians on their toes.

With tomorrow’s 25-30 mile inshore coastal race and a final windward-leeward race on Saturday, the regatta is already reaching its concluding stages:

“It is surprising how quickly it goes in with five races in two days,” smiled Ian Walker, clearly relieved to have put Punta Ala behind him. “I am driving and we are just sailing a bit better. We had problems with the starts in Punta Ala (they were over the start line four times in seven races) and from there it was downward spiral, here we are getting good starts and just chipping away. It is all a lot easier when you are at the front. It is my first time helming the boat for a while and it has taken me a bit of time to get used to helming the boat downwind, but I am getting there. We are definitely good upwind. But then everyone has there good spots where they are strong whether that is down to technique or design. The margins between success and failure are so small and at the moment we are just on the right side of the margin, and in Punta Ala we were always on the wrong side.

“To be honest we were never really in the game in Punta Ala, so it is nice to be close enough to have opinions on other boats here. There we were just getting pinged around the fleet.”

Breitling MedCup TP52 Regatta, Castellon

Race 4 (Boat name, owner/helm):
1 Siemens (Eamon Coneely/Ian Walker, Spain) 13:13.24,
2 Rush (Tom Stark/Tom Stark, USA) +46 seconds,
3 Santa Ana (Stuart Robinson/Santa Ana, Stuart Robinson, Spain) +55 second
4 ONO (I Castaner/Cable Europa, Spain) + 1 min 58 seconds,
5 Platoon (Harm Mueller/Speer/Harm Mueller Speer, Germany) + 2 min 05 seconds.

Race 5 (Boat name, owner/helm)
1. Orlanda (Alessandro Pirera/Lorenzo Brassani, Italy) 15:11:36
2. Caixa Galicia (Vicente Tirado/Roberto Bermudez, Spain) +2mins 20 sec
3. Siemens +2mins 56sec
4. ONO +2min 57sec
5. Mutua Madrilena (Peter de Ridder/Peter de Ridder, Spain) +3mins 2 secs

Trofeo Ciudad de Castellon - Overall
1. Siemens 22points
2. ONO 22points
3. Caixa Galicia 28 points
4. Orlanda 28 points
5. Warpath (Fred & Steve Howe/Dean Barker, USA) 34 points
6. Mutua Madrilena 34 points
7. Bribon (Jose Cusi/Jose Ma Torcida, Spain) 40 points
8. Rush 44 points
9. Santa Ana 46 points
10. Platoon 48 points

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