Quantum show their 2008 form
With northwesterly winds blowing anything between 12 knots in the bay to 22-24 knots offshore on a long, fast sleigh ride downwind to the easternmost, leeward turning mark, this was a race which was doubly fulfilling, close and exciting to the end, with five boats finishing within two minutes after the long beat home, but the backdrop - the stunning limestone calanque cliffs and sheer valleys – is the most awesome of the Circuit.
Four different boats lead the race, but it was Quantum Racing’s afterguard who were able to take advantage, seizing the initiative to use the additional pressure in under the cliffs and the consistent favourable lift, to take the lead early on the beat which they were able to hold to win by 33 seconds from the Russian boat Valars III.
Morgan Larson, tacticican on Quantum Racing gave his view: “I think what was critical today was that on the long run down to Cassis that the split breeze was important with more of a sea breeze offshore and the land breeze closer inshore. We were first to make the gain down the run on the shore side and then probably got a little too conservative after that. And then we ended up getting passed by guys who went a little further, but at least by that stage in the race we were up there. It was very similar to last year.
“We knew that on the final beat you needed to be inshore. At the spinnaker set we were probably not close enough to the leaders but by the leeward turn we were OK, and we stayed with our game plan, staying on the right on the beat back, and that paid off for us.
"It was a tough race on the trimmers and grinders. The wind was anything from 12-25 knots and was shifting up to 20 to 30 degrees.”
Valars and Pisco Sour read the split breeze on the downwind leg to their advantage. After the mid race gate at the Isle Riou they hitched inshore and hooked into a turbo boost of extra wind pressure closer to the land which also gave them a much more favourable downwind slant, allowing them to pop out in front, Vasco Vascotto’s (ITA) crew on the black hulled Pisco Sour leading the former Mean Machine round the leeward gate on to the short reach inshore to turn for home at the entrance to the bay of Cassis.
It was a tough day for Matador. The Argentine team lay second this morning, firmly in contention and were sixth at the first mark, but at the leeward turn, Mark 2, they appeared to suffer a headfoil problem. It took them some minutes to try and effect a repair, but ended up having to sail the next one sided beat, out to Rattoneau island, with just a tiny storm jib. They struggled on to finish 11th, but slipped to third, ten points behind Quantum Racing.
Adam Beashel, strategist on Emirates Team New Zealand said: “It was not quite the Mistral we would have liked, but a nice long run but it makes it hard then when there is a long beat home, its nicer the other way around.
“We sailed well for the first half of the race. The second half of the run we got a little out of phase and missed some pressure, hard under the cliffs. From there the long beat home was about staying close to our main competition, and we did that staying close to Quantum who had come through the other guys on the points score table, just so trying to minimise the damage that Quantum were able to do to us. We were able to get Synergy and then got Pisco Sour. We both went to Code Zeros but Pisco had a problem with their lead. We slipped through them then.
“We were close to our game plan. We knew there was a good chance of pressure in under the cliffs and we thought we were safe staying a little bit offshore where we did. I should probably have gone up to the spreaders at the gate to see if there was more pressure but I don’t think anyone else did, I think they just knew it was there, so hats off to them.”
Lighter SE’ly winds are expected for tomorrow, Saturday’s two races with a concluding pair scheduled on Sunday.
Tactical chess in the GP42 Series
While the TP52s enjoyed their tour of coastal Provence, the GP42s enjoyed near-perfect conditions for interesting games of tactical chess in today’s three buoy races in this series. Unlike yesterday’s steady big-breeze conditions, today’s wind was much more varied in speed and direction and therefore gave teams ample opportunities to play the shifts and turn losses into gains… and vice versa.
Coming into the day, Filippo Faruffini’s Roma 2, driven by Paolo Cian (ITA), led the fleet by two points, a slim but defensible margin. But straight away into the first of today’s three buoy races, Daniel Calero’s Islas Canarias Puerto Callero evened the score by taking a convincing win and putting Roberto Monti’s Airis between them and Roma in third, thereby leading the series in the tie-break.
Their time at the top was short-lived, however, since in the second race there was a heated exchange of tacks among all six teams coming in the final approach to the first top mark, from which Javier Goizueta's Caser-Endesa emerged from the cloud of dust (and a flurry of protest flags) at the front of the pack for the first time, followed closely by Roma and Islas Canarias taking up the rear. A huge right shift on the last windward leg then vaulted Roma into vying for the lead, with enough margin gained to cruise to their third victory of the regatta.
And in the last race, the course area was relocated even further south of Pointe Rouge. But it was still far not enough, as another big right shift helped Caser-Endesa and Turismo Madrid now take and hold the lead, even after a course change to square up the course. Endesa held on long enough to take their first-ever MedCup win and finally realise the potential they’ve shown in numerous other races in this series.