To the wire

Dramatic conclusion to the Audi MedCup's City of Alicante Trophy

Sunday May 17th 2009, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
A very modest trio of results across yesterday’s races proved a spur to the Matador team to come out fighting today and score the best pair of scores in the TP52 fleet to win the City of Alicante Trophy today after a very close fought first regatta of the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit. Meanwhile in the GP42 Series a final race win was also enough to clinch the overall honours for Islas Canarias Puerto Calero.

From the disappointment of yesterday’s mixed bag of 7,5,5 Alberto Roemmers’ team had a long debrief to analyse where they felt they had made mistakes. Perhaps it was the catalyst which set them up to eliminate their weaknesses, to start well in both races today, sailing fast and smart to clinch their first MedCup regatta win since 2007 when they won the prestigious Copa del Rey in Palma.

In 9-12 knots of sea breeze conditions and perfect early season Mediterranean sunshine the four leading protagonists Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis, Matador and reigning champions Quantum Racing lined up side by side off the start line in the first race. Emirates Team New Zealand profited from good upwind speed and an excellent start to win the first race and earn a four points lead.

As Matador seized the lead early on the first leg of the final race, Emirates Team New Zealand looked to have done enough to score a maiden regatta win with their new boat when they rounded fourth, less than a boat length behind Artemis and with a four boat cushion to Quantum Racing.

But on the first downwind they chose to carry on to the right for a matter of minutes after Quantum Racing and Artemis had gybed away. They rounded sixth then compounded their troubles when they lost Quantum Racing on the finish line to end the regatta third overall behind Artemis.

For the Matador team, who led after day 1, victory is a just reward for two and half months of hard work to prepare their new Judel Vrolijk design which was build near Valencia. Three excellent periods of training in Valencia and Palma ensured the team reached the season’s first regatta in good shape.

Matador skipper Guillermo Parada said: “That feels like a job well done. It has been very, very hard these past two and a half months making sure we got here in the best shape possible and were ready to race in Palma last month and sail testing and training in Valencia. We had very good training with El Desafio and Bribon which made the difference for us. We had a long hard meeting this morning to make sure we did not make the same mistakes as we did yesterday and we didn’t. We had two clean starts in both races. We changed a couple of small things in the way we set up the boat, just little things to the rig and the trim and everyone stayed really focussed. I felt we had the possibility to win here. I was confident in the decisions we had made.”

Artemis tactician Russell Coutts commented: “The racing is really close, the four top boats are really tight, and there is a whole bunch of other boats which can win races too. We don’t have as many boats this year but the quality is very high, quality is higher. Sailing in different venues gives you better opportunities, because some boats are better with light winds and others with stronger winds. I think we will have strong winds in Marseille and Cagliari. I'm very happy with our boat, Vrolijk has done a super job.”

Just as in the GP42 Series only one single point in the TP52s settled the regatta. Two points separated all three new 2009 TP52s which monopolised the top positions from the defending champions Quantum Racing in fourth.

Morgan Larson, tactician on Quantum Racing commented: "The second half of the regatta was tough for us and we were not good today. At the start Terry momentarily thought we were called over the line and there was a little wobble and then we were squeezed a little bit from our lane. We wanted the left strongly and could not stay there. But it is never easy here when it is lighter winds, the bad air lasts longer, carries a long way, and the shifts are slow and difficult to read. But overall, we came away from here a year ago in a big hole and that did not last too long, so we will be looking to keep making the improvements. We have room for improvements."

Seven different boats of the 12 strong fleet won races, only Emirates Team New Zealand and Matador won two apiece.

Dean Barker, skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand said: “We are pretty disappointed. It was ours to win and we sailed a pretty poor last race. We were in good shape at the first mark and we lost a lot of places. We lost on the first downwind. Everything looks easy in retrospect and we should have gybed, but at the time it felt like we were doing the right thing. We just kept battling away and only needed one boat on the final run but unfortunately we lost one.”

Meanwhile, from out of nowhere…

Just when the scorecard in the GP42 Series was taking on a familiar look, the extraordinary competitiveness of this class can turn things inside out. Going into the first of today’s two races, Roberto Monti’s Airis, driven by Cameron Appleton, looked to have things well in hand with a three-point lead, good overall speed, and smooth teamwork.

But an average start and an environment that tactician Andrew Escourt described as “brutal: you couldn’t buy a break” conspired to push Airis back into a fourth place finish, their worst yet of the series, while their rivals on Roma 2, driven by Paolo Cian, slid ahead into their third win and tying Airis on 16 points.

This now set up the 8th and final race for the series title to be a classic match race between these two Italian-based teams, with Cian and Appleton both being renowned match racers. It was Airis who got the jump and looked to extend their lead coming into the final run to the finish.

However, a poor spinnaker set, a dying and shifting breeze, and the pressure of Roma close behind them ready to jump on them when they gybed kept the Airis team from turning back towards the finish until it was too late.

On losing on the last leg Appleton commented: “It was disappointing for sure. Paolo had us controlled, so we tried to go into a low, slow mode to keep clear of him once we gybed. Maybe we could have gybed earlier, but I’m not sure the outcome would have been different, since the others got inside on that 20 degree shift.”

Lurking only three points back in the standings, but next to last around the final mark, Daniel Calero’s Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, driven by Jose María Ponce (ESP), gybed early into the pressure and set themselves up nicely for the 20 degree left shift in the wind.

“It is really fantastic for us to have this first win in the MedCup," said Daniel Calero. "We know we have a very competitive class, and this last race showed that dramatically!”

So when the Italians met the remainder of the fleet just 200m from the finish they found themselves several lengths behind, with the young Canarias team crossing not only by a wide margin but with enough boats between them to win the GP42 class by a single point.

TP52 results

Boat Nat Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 Tot
Matador ARG Alberto Roemmers 2 5 1 8 7 5 5 2 1 36
Artemis SWE Torbjorn Tornqvist 7 2 9 7 2 2 1 5 2 37
Emirates Team New Zealand NZ Dean Barker 4 4 6 2 1 3 10 1 7 38
Quantum Racing USA Terry Hutchinson 5 1 3 4 5 6 7 3 6 40
Bigamist 7 PORT Afonso Domingos 3 12 5 5 9 1 4 4 3 46
Pisco Sour ITA Vasco Vascotto 9 9 7 6 4 4 3 7 4 53
El Desafio SPA Laureano Wizner 8 7 10 3 3 10 6 13 5 65
Marazzi Sailing SUI Flavio Marazzi 4 6 4 10 10 8 8 6 11 67
Synergy RUS Sergey Pichugin 11 11 2 1 8 11 11 9 10 74
Bribon SPA Jose Cusi 10 11 9 11 7 2 10 9 79
Valars III RUS Sergei Shetsov 12 3 12 12 6 9 9 11 8 82
Audi TP52 Sailing Team Powered by Q8 ITA Riccardo Simoneschi 6 8 8 11 12 12 12 8 12 89

GP42 results

Pos Boat Nat Skipper/owner R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 Tot
1 Airis ITA Roberto Monti 2 3 3 1 2 1 4 5 21
2 Roma 2 ITA Paolo Cian 1 1 2 3 5 3 1 6 22
3 Islas Canaries Puerto Calero SPA Jose A. Calero Rodriguez 3 2 1 2 4 5 2 1 20
4 Caser-Endesa SPA Javier Goizueta Grasset 4 4 4 6 6 2 3 4 33
5 Turismo Madrid SPA José María Van Der Ploeg Garcia 6 5 5 4 3 4 5 3 35
6 Swing JAP Keisuke Suzuki 5 6 6 5 1 7 6 2 38

More photos on the following pages....

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