The weather, or more specifically the imminent threat of lightning, finally took its toll today off Cartagena where the first races for the TP52 Series at the Caja Mediterraneo Region of Murcia Trophy had to be postponed.
After a postponement ashore the TP52 Series fleet were sent out to the race area at a little after two o’clock in the afternoon. The GP42 Series fleet waited around as well, due to get their official practice session away as soon as the TP52 first race went.
While there was a period during which it looked promising with 13-17 knots of breeze blowing from the East, the only initial excitement was watching the IMOCA Open 60 fleet on the Istanbul Europa Race passing along the horizon, some five miles further offshore.
The wait looked like it would be rewarded when the race committee brought the ten boat TP52 fleet under starter’s orders, but within seconds of the start gun the AP flag went back up. They set off upwind anyway, taking the chance to learn the beat in the easterly breeze and nasty, choppy swell, but it was clear that the breeze was shifting all over the place further up the course.
Terry Hutchinson, skipper of Quantum Racing recalled: “We were at 10-15 seconds before the start when they postponed the race. We sailed the first mile, mile and a half of the beat and clearly it was getting shiftier as we went further upwind. So we got our mains down and waited. Then another thunder storm rolled through. Here we sit at the dock. So she took a very good decision.”
Meantime the schedule stands with the Coastal Race still planned for Thursday, but the forecast is not much more promising for tomorrow, but the GP42’s now go straight into racing tomorrow.
Thierry Peponnet helm of Bribón said: “Marcel (van Triest - navigator) had told me there might be a possibility of racing between three and four, but after that, it's finished. He's the champion in weather forecasting. I think that they took the right decision by sending the boats out, and also stopping the race, even if it was just 30 seconds before the start. That us right."
Steve Hayles navigator on Matador commented: “As raced officer you have got to try. I really think a lot of us thought it would never happen today, it was a really tough forecast so I think you have to try. And you have to put yourself in her (race officer Maria Torcida’s) shoes. She had 13-14 knots of wind when we went out and we had one hour to get one race. After that it looked really unlikely so for sure they had to try.”
With the weather today keeping the GP42s teams off the water for their practice racing, the tensions cannot be diffused before the GP42s take to the water in anger tomorrow. The stakes are high: Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) and its young team from the Canary Islands are up against the veteran Roma 2 (ITA) team, led by match racing veteran Paolo Cian (ITA). Both are tied on points for the overall series title. Roma enjoyed an early lead in the series standings, but the young Canarias team have improved with each event, and are coming off a win in the class’s Owner Driver Championship in Cascais two weeks ago.
But there is also a new player on the GP42 field too: last year’s season champion Iberdola (ESP) is back, with the green machine led by skipper Laureano Wizner (ESP). For not having sailed for nearly a year, they had a credible showing two weeks ago in Cascais, and may find form to get into the fray quickly in this tight and tactically intense class.
The teams will also be using this event as a springboard towards their Global Championship event next month in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, where trade wind breezes and Atlantic swells make for very exciting sailing in these pocket rocketships.
Ashore, around the Audi MedCup race village, the inclement weather did little to dampen the enthusiasm. In the morning visitors were treated to a spectacular fly past by the Patrulla Aguila, a famous Spanish aerobatic display team.