Two horse race

Cristabella two points off de Ridder's Mutua Madrilena at TP52's Athens Trophy

Friday August 25th 2006, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Mediterranean
It proved worth the wait for the 16 boat Breitling MedCup TP52 fleet racing for the Athens Trophy which enjoyed the best and closest race yet when an early evening cross offshore breeze puffed up to 14 knots to produce a fitting conclusion to a long, and at times frustrating day on the Saronic Gulf.

Mutua Madrilena strengthened their overall lead with a display of sheer boatspeed, good starting and safe sailing that contributed to their victory in the first race of the day, which was contested in a light, and at times fickle sea breeze. Peter de Ridder’s crew sailed true to their strategy, taking no risks but starting near the middle of the line. They were able to use their speed upwind to deal with any immediate threats. Rounding the top mark second behind Eamon Conneely’s Siemens they were quick to spot the breeze stalling ahead of them on the run and gybed away with Caixa Galicia to steal the lead from Siemens.

Mutua Madrilena extended to win from Siemens with Roberto Bermudez bringing Caixa Galicia across for third gun. An attempted second race was halted after the first round when the breeze folded, frustrating an Italian one-two of Orlanda and Anonimo. But the race officers held the fleet while the new, easterly offshore quickly became established, racing directly towards the mouth of the 2004 Olympic regatta marina.

With Athens bathed in the evening sunshine the stronger breeze proved a good test of crew work and tactics. With some significant puffs and lulls across the track there were plenty of opportunities for gains and losses. Lexus, with Russell Coutts driving and Gavin Brady calling tactics, won the pin end of the start line, proving their determination to take the inshore track, sailing low and fast. They rounded the windward mark in fifth, with Bigamist leading and Anonimo hard on their track.

Lexus sailed a good downwind leg to round the leeward gate second and made a bold move offshore on the final run. Gaining a better downwind angle Lexus took their first winning gun since the Breitling Regatta.

“This is proving to be a very tricky place to sail. I am starting to appreciate what it was like to sail at the Olympics. It is a very, very tricky place to sail,” explained Coutts,. “I came and watched the Olympics and that was the only time. You get so many influences and different patterns, sometimes quite random. We got a few good breaks, downwind Gavin did a good job.”

After their offshore travails, when they finished 15th and 14th, Siemens had the most consistent day in the fleet with Ian Walker driving to a hard earned second and fourth to lie sixth overall.

“It was a better day than the offshore,” grinned Walker, “It was good. We did a good job to pick ourselves up from the offshore, and Chris Main and Sofia worked well. The second race was nice to steer in fast, flat water hard for the tactician. We had the wind from the north, did a race with the wind from the south, set up for a race with the wind from the west and then finally did a race with the wind from the east, so every point of the compass in one day, so it was hard for the race officer and hard for the tacticians, but for us helmsmen relatively easy.”

With a 3 and a 5 for the day Caixa Galicia, with John Kostecki calling tactics, lie third overall, while John Cook’s Cristabella are a serious threat to Mutua Madrilena just two points behind after posting a 7 and 3 for the day.

“It was tricky first race," explained Mutua Madrilena’s Ray Davies. "You had the two sea breezes trying to go left around the other side of the island and the transition between the left hand breeze and the right breeze was fluky and patchy and we managed to wriggle our way through that transition zone quite nicely. As the breeze went left we projected left and extended. We have tried to be conservative but paid the price in the last race. If the boats either side of you start really well then you can’t hold a lane and get forced the wrong way. We were second from last at the windward mark and then managed to get back to ninth. It is quite a tricky venue.”

Provisional results after six races:

Pos Sail no Boat Nat Owner Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Tot
1 MON 52 MUTUA MADRILENA (C) MON PETER DE RIDDER PETER DE RIDDER 3 3 1 2 1 9 19
2 GBR 5206 CRISTABELLA GBR JOHN COOK CHARLIE McKEE 2 1 5 3 7 3 21
3 ESP 7452 CAIXA GALICIA ESP VICENTE TIRADO ROBERTO BERMUDEZ-DE CASTRO 11 2 3 4 3 5 28
4 USA 52698 WARPATH USA FRED & STEVE HOWE DEAN BARKER 10 7 2 1 8 8 36
5 ESP 7552 BRIBON (C) ESP JOSE CUSI PICHU TORCIDA 8 4 4 8 6 12 42
6 IRL 5200 SIEMENS IRL EAMON CONNEELY IAN WALKER 1 11 14 13 2 4 45
7 GRE 7652 LEXUS/ATALANTI GRE GEORGE ANDREADIS - JAIME YLLERA RUSSELL COUTTS 13 5 8 10 12 1 49
8 GBR 5252 SANTA ANA (C) ESP STUART ROBINSON & J.A.INIESTA STUART ROBINSON 14 13 6 7 4 6 50
9 POR 2241 BIGAMIST 6 POR PEDRO MENDONCA AFONSO DOMINGOS 4 9 9 12 5 11 50
10 ITA 572 ANONIMO ITA RICCARDO SIMONESCHI RICCARDO SIMONESCHI 9 12 11 9 9 2 52
11 ITA 52 ORLANDA ITA ALESSANDRO PIRERA FRANCESCO BRUNI 12 8 12 6 11 7 56
12 USA 52864 RUSH (C) USA THOMAS L. STARK THOMAS L. STARK 7 6 7 11 16 16 63
13 GRE 52700 BAMBAKOU (C) GRE JOHN G. COUMANTAROS JOHN G. COUMANTAROS 15 16 10 5 10 10 66
14 ESP 7352 AIFOS (C) ESP ARMADA ESPANOLA RICARDO ALVAREZ MALDONADO 5 14 13 14 13 15 74
15 NOR 12000 FRAM XVI (C) NOR H.M. KING HARALD V OF NORWAY H.M. KING HARALD V OF NORWAY 6 15 15 15 14 14 79
16 RUS 13 RUSAL SYNERGY RUS GATEWAY OVERSEAS LTD ANDREY NIKOLAEV 16 10 16 16 15 13 86

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