Moving to the Atlantic
Ashore and on the water, since 2007 Portimao has consistently proven one of the benchmark regattas. As well as the superb facilities around the Audi MedCup Village at the Marina de Portimao, at the scenic mouth of Portimao’s Arade River, the winds out on the racing arena have previously proven both regular and challenging.
The fourth regatta of the five which comprise the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit this time will catch the latter stages of the summer tourist season. The fantastic local beaches - some of the best in Europe - local restaurants, bars and clubs - and relaxed atmosphere have also made the Portugal Trophy regatta one which crews enjoy bringing family and friends to.
The TP52 Practice Race opens the regatta on Tuesday 18 August with the winners of the Portugal Trophy for the TP52 Series and the GP42 Series receiving their prizes after the conclusion of racing on Sunday 23 August. For visitors to the regatta site the full range of popular interactive displays which comprise the Audi MedCup Expo are available, including live race tracking and comment from the water.
After winning the Marseille Trophy and, last month, the Region of Sardinia Trophy Emirates Team New Zealand are on a roll. They have a handsome lead on the points table for the Audi MedCup Circuit, while Daniel Calero’s Canarian team of Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) have also won two from three regattas and lead the GP42 Series.
Grant Dalton (NZL) mastman and CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), cautions that their game plan for Portimao remains as it has been for previous regattas: "The current points flatter us and a couple of bad races could see the margin evaporate. Several boats - Matador and Artemis in particular - have the capacity to win races, to win the next two regattas and ultimately the series.
"We are not changing the boat for Portimao. Most boats in the Audi MedCup, NZL380 included, are pretty settled after three regattas and now sailing technique is the all-important factor. The team is working constantly on small improvements to preserve our current position. We aim to be better every day. That's a cliché - but for Emirates Team New Zealand it pretty much sums up our approach to the series."
As the team which has constantly surprised this season, Portugal’s Bigamist crew harbour hopes of achieving their first Audi MedCup regatta win on their home waters next week, but skipper-helm Afonso Domingos (POR), fresh from 12th in the Star World Championships, is first and foremost, a realist: “We would love to win Troféu de Portugal - Cidade de Portimão, but the odds are against us. For that to happen, it would be necessary that we did a tremendous job and the others make a lot of mistakes. Our main goal is to maintain the level that we’ve shown along the first three stages, and to win, at least, races.”
The five GP42 teams are readying for another intense fight in Portugal. With a small group the racing becomes even more intense, as every point has so much value compared to larger fleet sailing. Look for the team on Fillipo Faruffini’s Roma 2 (ITA) to come back with a vengeance, as the absence at the last event of their primary helmsman of two seasons, Paolo Cian (ITA), set them back enough to allow other teams to overtake their lead in the standings.
But that lead, now held by Daniel Calero’s Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), was not gained lightly, as the young talent from Canarias has shown ever-increasing levels of speed and tactical poise to repeat their victory earned in Cagliari. With the addition of Vasco Vascotto (ITA) to their team, Roberto Monti’s Airis driven by Cameron Appleton (NZL) should be positioned to expand their speed beyond their traditional strength in light air. And the remaining two teams from Spain - Caser Endesa and Turismo Madrid - each have their own strengths: Turismo Madrid is regarded as unbeatable in moderate air downwind, and Caser Endesa, just like their Canarias sistership, is getting stronger and stronger with each race.
So, who’s the GP42 favorite for Portimao? It’s simply too close to tell.