Kiwis to the fore

Emirates Team NZ makes a strong start to the Audi MedCup’s Marseille Trophy

Thursday June 11th 2009, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
Emirates Team New Zealand confirmed that their powerful new Botin Carkeek designed TP52 is no slouch in lighter breezes when they won two of three races between the 11 TP52s today on Marseille’s Rade Sud. Added to the third place in the day’s second windward-leeward contest the Kiwi team lead overall by seven clear points in the Audi MedCup Circuit’s Marseille Trophy.

Racing in six to eight knots of mainly SSWly winds on smooth Mediterranean seas and in perfect June sunshine, the winds scarcely built by more than a couple of knots through the course of the day, but there was always enough for the race committee to realise the target of three races in smart succession.

The New Zealand crew arrived smarting from having let a possible regatta win in Alicante slip through their fingers on the last race. But today the team were consistent in their strategies, often winning the favoured left side of the track, making two good starts and keeping their boat moving well in the light-moderate sea breeze.

After three races Emirates Team New Zealand lead the Marseille Trophy by a clear seven points from José Cusi’s Bribon (ESP) who won the second race, a victory which they bolted to a fifth and sixth. The only Spanish TP52 team on the Audi MedCup Circuit, with France’s double Olympic medallist Thierry Pepponet on the helm, earned a boost to their confidence after their modest 10th in Alicante and lie second overall, locked on 12 points the same as Alicante Trophy winners Matador (ARG).

With a regular dividend paid on the left of the course upwind, reaped towards the Marseille coast where the Pointe Rouge and its craggy 400m high Marseilleveyre mountain influences the breeze, clean, smart starting off the line was always paramount today. Often it was speed as much as position which was crucial, but Peponnet and tactician Ross MacDonald (CAN) conspired to make the start of the day to the second race when they jumped off the pin end and were never challenged again before taking their first winning gun this season on the waters where they finished third overall last year.

Watched by 20 young local Optimist sailors enjoying their Wednesday afternoon away from school, French hero Peponnet and crew gave the kids a text book display from start to finish.

Emirates Team New Zealand’s de-brief after Alicante seems to have improved their decision making, while Adam Beashel (NZL) strengthens their hand, sniffing out the best of the breeze - a role he accomplished with distinction during the team’s last America’s Cup campaigns.

“Conditions were much easier to read here than in Alicante,” confirmed Ray Davies (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand’s tactician, “We had two good starts down the pin end when it was favoured, and then we moved up the line. When it was really congested we started off the line a little but much faster and were able to roll over everybody.”

“The boat is going really well in this steady breeze. As soon as we have the guys on the rail hiking we go really well.”

“In terms of the decision making after Alicante we decided that we needed to talk more and the more you talk and the more you can feel confidence in your decisions. It is working really well, and Adam Beashel is doing a superb job calling the breeze up the track and Kevin Hall has been doing some really good lay lines. Dean’s starting has been good, and that just means the crew work has been good and the atmosphere is really positive. But, it is really easy to be positive when you are winning!”

Ross Macdonald Bribon's Canadian tactician added: “We have to get better eveyday and seems to be working, we try to get faster and get off the starting line well, that's been our main Aquile's heel if you can call it like that we just haven't been getting into the front crew off the starting line and we seem to be doing a better job with that, Thierry did a phantastic start on the second race it made it realy easy to win we didn't have to do anything after that. So that's it we had two better starts in the last two races and first race we were lucky enough to get back in on a windshift.”

GP42 Practice Race. Madrid wins the practice race by a nose

Many sailors take practice races rather seriously, even though there’s an old superstition against winning it for fear of jinxing the outcome of the regatta when it really counts. It’s a time to not just get the team warmed up from their hiatus from the last event, but to try some new moves, new rig or sail settings, and new ideas while the competition is close at hand.

Roberto Monti’s Airis (ITA), driven by Cameron Appleton (NZL), rounded the last top mark with a substantial lead earned from a good start and superior pace in today’s light air sea breeze. But closing fast in this last leg was Jose Maria van der Ploeg’s Tourismo Madrid (ESP), challenging the composite Kiwi-Italian team to a furious gybing dual downwind. This in turn allowed Fillippo Farufini’s Roma 2 (ITA) to close their gap to now challenge the leaders into the final few hundred metres of the race.

Feeling the pressure, Airis gybed for the line while Madrid held out Roma to the pin end layline. Having gybed a bit too soon to lay the line, Airis had to gybe once more, which allowed Madrid to waltz in and bear away at the line to win the race by what could not have been more than a metre.

“That’s alright,” said a relaxed Appleton, “It’s never good luck to win the practice race anyway! But seriously, we felt good today and tried a few different things to be ready for the week.”

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009 - Marseille Trophy

Pos Boat Owner Skipper Nat R1 R2 R3 Tot
2 BRIBON Jose Cusi Thierry Peponnet SPA 6 1 5 12
3 MATADOR Alberto Roemmers Guillermo Parada ARG 2 6 4 12
4 QUANTUM RACING Doug deVos/Fred Howe Terry Hutchinson USA 8 5 2 15
5 BIGAMIST 7 Pedro Mendonça  Afonso Domigos  PORT 5 4 6 15
6 ARTEMIS Torbjorn Tornqvist Torbjorn Tornqvist SWE 7 2 8 17
7 SYNERGY Valentin Zavadnikov  Sergey Pichugin  RUS 3 9 9 21
8 AUDI TP52 POWERED BY Q8 Riccardo Simoneschi Riccardo Simoneschi ITA 4 8 10 22
9 VALARS III Podolsky Kirill Serguei Chevtsov  RUS 10 11 3 24
10 PISCO SOUR Vasco Vascotto Vasco Vascotto ITA 11 7 7 25
11 CRISTABELLA John Cook John Cook GBR 9 10 11 30

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