Another good day at the office
Thursday August 3rd 2006, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selectedScoring a first then a fourth over the two offshore races Ian Walker’s team aboard Siemens have had a productive, if slightly long 92.5 mile day afloat, which took them to the top of the leaderboard of the 20 boat Breitling MedCup TP52 fleet at the 25th Copa del Rey here in Palma. Siemens now lead by five points from Tom Stark’s American boat Rush Valle Romano.
Valle Romano passed the first race scoring gate in third and then sailed a solid second race to just hang on to that position at the finish, another 44 miles or so miles later at Cap Blanc. Indeed they were the only boat in the fleet to retain the same position from the first gate to the second and lie second overall.
Warpath matched Siemens five points tally for the two part race. Skippered by Dean Barker Warpath won the second scoring race from fourth in the first stage. They rounded the Isla Redonda in the Cabrera Archipelago in first place and then held that to the finish and now lies sixth overall.
Mutua Madrilena were on the ascendancy when they briefly lost crewman Tom Dodson overboard, but an eighth then 12th for these offshores now leaves them third overall.
Despite the predicted doom and gloom of some of the fleet’s navigators with threats of dusk park ups and midnight shutdowns, the breeze held to the finish, making for an interesting pair of offshore tests.
Siemens took maximum points from the first race. They were smartly out of the trap in the middle of the line and were almost immediately forward of the fleet, with the exception of Balearia.
And as the breeze, blowing and 10-11 knots, shifted slightly they were quickly in a strong position, driving their advantage home with a well executed approach to the windward mark. Rounding second Balearia were able to hang on to second all the way down to the most south westerly turn off the island of Dragonera.
At the top of the beat to the first scoring gate at Isla de Torro, Balearia were stuck on the inside of two small shifts, dropping to fifth. Taking the first hooter at the gate Siemens had a lead of 4 minutes and 4 seconds, which for all the world they looked like hanging on to until the final third of the leg to the final turn at the Isla de Redonda.
Siemens then sought to protect the right and tacked out to guard the likely advance of the offshore boats but ultimately lost out in pressure to the boats inside them and on the outside of the windshift when it came.
At the scoring gate Michael Illbruck’s Pinta had just pipped Rush by one second and Warpath by three seconds, and while Rush worked a more offshore line, Pinta and Warpath were content to stay low, sailing for speed and were among the first to pop their Code Zero sails. That proved to be the winning move for Warpath who, with Pinta, got inside Siemens on the approach to Redonda.
Biggest gains on the leg was for John Cook’s Cristabella which pulled up from ninth to round the final turn in fifth. Two gybes after the island kept them in better pressure and they sailed round two more boats to complete commendable recovery. From 15th at the very first windward mark of the course they took a remarkable second gun at the end of the second scoring offshore.
“It was really tough. From the island turning mark it should have been a straight leg with nice lay throughs, but there was always pressure offshore. In the half an hour to the gate it was touch and go but we ended up coming right again,” recalled a tired-looking Warpath skipper Dean Barker on the dockside in the early hours this morning.
“We had rounded third round the bottom mark and just lost to Illbruck ( Pinta) on the gate. From the scoring gate it was a long fetch and the wind softened off a bit and a couple of boats tried their Code Zeros and we chucked ours on. Us and Pinta were the two most leeward boats and it was one of those ones where any header you got we were 15-20 degrees below course, so really it was a choice of when to go back on jib. Some of the other guys did and we did but Pinta held on to theirs and were going pretty nicely below us. We had strong forecasts that the wind would go into the SE and we got it quite late. And so we passed Siemens 20 minutes or so before the island (Redonda). They were in a difficult position trying to protect the high road (offshore where there was more pressure) where they were making pretty big gains and they were probably a little slow going to their Code Zero. The difference between sailing Code Zero and jibs in the these boats in that weight of wind is pretty dramatic.”
“We stayed high and pointed at the mark,” reported Dee Smith, Cristabella’s tactician of their second place. “That was the main thing. Everybody tried to go low and fast. The wind did head as predicted but it was earlier for the boats on the left and so we were able to shear off at them and gain a lot and then coming back we did a little tiny gybe at the corner. We got a little more pressure under them and a better angle coming in. It was not a bad race at all. We never really stopped at all.”
Siemens' skipper Ian Walker was clearly disappointed to lose three places on the second part of the race, but nonetheless happy to be leading overall: “It was okay until they switched the lights off,” he quipped. “It is always hard when you are leading because you spend a bit of your lead covering people. I’m not even really sure how we lost so much. There were a bunch of boats sailing low with Zeros and we matched them until we were below the layline and we though this is ridiculous, we are not going to lay the island. And in fact the real threat looked like it was going to be from windward. We even tacked up because we were worried about there being more pressure. That probably cost us most. We were more worried about them. Then there was a 30 degree knock and the guys below us looked quite good and pulled bearing to leeward. Then we were probably slow to get to our Code Zero, and we couldn’t see what sails other people were on and it was really shifty. So at the end of the day it is probably better to lose a couple of boats than the whole fleet. I think we have a little bit to learn on our Zero sailing than the newer boats which have narrower shroud bases and stiffer rigs. And we have never actually sailed upwind under our Code Zero, to be brutally honest, I suspect they are just a little bit more organised and sorted, and for us it’s a bit harder when the first time you do it it is at night.”
|2||RUSH VALLE ROMANO||THOMAS L.STARK||8||3||3||3||17|
|3||M.MADRILEÑA-MEAN MACHINE||PETER DE RIDDER||4||1||8||12||25|
|7||SANTA ANA - STAY CALM||STUART ROBINSON||9||2||14||9||34|
|11||CAIXA GALICIA||ROBERTO BERMUDEZ||3||18||7||14||42|
|14||BRIBON||S.M.JUAN CARLOS DE BORBON||6||15||18||10||49|
|16||FRAM XVI||H.M.KING HARALD V||14||14||15||15||58|
|18||AIFOS||JAIME RODRIGUEZ TOUBES||20||9||17||17||63|
|20||TAU CERAMICA ANDALUCIA||SANTI LOPEZ||18||20||19||20||77|