Desafio walks it
On the usual 1.7-mile long windward/leeward course, the battle was on for the overall circuit victory as well as for the leadership in the Trofeo Cesar Manrique 2008. The green hulled Desafio, helmed by Laureano Wizner with Santi Lopez-Vazquez calling tactics, had a more than a comfortable margin on the eve of the last and most important race, but sailing teaches us that nothing can ever be taken for granted. Thus the Spanish kept an attentive eye especially on their closest rivals - especially the Italians on the Felci-designed Airis, helmed by Sandro Montefusco and Cameron Appleton.
In fact the race became a match-race like battle between the two top teams, with Roma GP42.2 sneaking in to grab the last 2008 circuit race. Not as fast as they have proved so far in this regatta were the Swiss/French crew on Near Miss, the other contender for the 'silver' spot. This crew including helmsman Bertrand Pacé, tactician Hamish Pepper and navigator Tom Schanckenberg, suffered more than expected and crossed the finishing line sixth. On the other hand, today the young local crew on Canarias Puerto Calero posted a good performance coming fourth and to finish fifth overall in the Quebramar GP42 Cup - not a bad result at all considering that their boat is not of the latest generation. Bodegas Luis Alegre-Basquexperience were back in the water today after their problems on day one due to serious rudder damage.
With today's race, then, the international Quebramar GP42 Cup 2008 circuit came to a conclusion: after six events always marked by close and exciting racing, raced by top sailors, by varied sailing, wind and weather conditions that allowed the crew's abilities to get under the spotlight.
It was of great satisfaction to the Class Management the fact that podium included three different nationalities - Spain, Italy and Switzerland - with boats from different designers (Botin & Carkeek, Felci and Farr), as a reminder that this circuit is really cosmopolitan.
Desafio's consistency clearly paid as did the wish to win by the Italians on Airis, who were always strong contenders and the determination of the crew sailing for Geneva-based owner Franck Noël on Near Miss.
"This year's circuit has been much longer than last year but our team likes the fact there are six regattas where it can be seen who's the best overall," said Desafio helm Laureano Wizner. "It seemed to us the level was much higher this year, all boats had a higher level and the new ones lifted it even more. We were lucky or we knew from the start how to begin aggressively and stay on top. Our worst result was in Valencia where we had a problem with our boat settings but we were able to find the cause, fix it and win the following event, the Copa del Rey, one of the most important for our team, maybe because it's in Spain and it coincided with the TP52 victory. It was definitely a great moment for our sponsors and our team.
"Our aim was to be able to maintain the 14-point advantage in the overall Quebramar GP42 Cup standings and win the Trofeo César Manrique. We achieved the first one and the second one, Airis were the fair winner. They sailed very well; they didn't make errors, or at least less than the rest. They deserve to be the winner. It is obviously good that the best team wins and in this case, Airis sailed much better than anyone else.
"We are more competitive than the new boats in light winds, or at least it's where we best optimised our boat. Over 14 knots we have always had a gap in our performance, as it was seen in Valencia. But we worked and fine-tuned and in the Copa del Rey, where we had three races with more than 16 knots, we were always placed among the top three. Still the new boats are slightly better than the Botín designs and you always have to fight.
Hamish Pepper, tactician on Near Miss added: "Well, I think our name really sums it up - Near Miss. We lost ourselves really today, on the start line again and it is really hard to gain a regatta like that. It's a bit of a shame for us; it's a shame to finish the season like that. The early start was due to bad preparation from our part, there was also current on the starting line. We were in a really good position a minute before the start, we simply did a poor job and we suffered.
"It's the first time I sailed on a GP42 boat and I think they are great little boats. It would be great for the class if there were a few more numbers, but the class is really exciting. These are highly competitive yachts with top crews. It's extremely tough and you pay dearly every error"
Sandro Montefusco, helmsman ob Airis said: "Both the Trofeo César Manrique and the Quebramar GP42 Cup went well for Airis, especially this event. We are very satisfied with our performance. It has been a difficult regatta with a quite irregular breeze but Cameron Appleton followed fairly conservative tactics and as a result, even if we never won a race, we always remained on the top positions of the event. Here in Puerto Calero boat speed was obviously important but under these irregular breeze conditions tactics were undoubtedly fundamental.
"We are also happy with the Quebramar GP42 Cup and our second place overall because before this regatta Near Miss was ahead of us. Before coming to Puerto Calero we knew it would have been very difficult to reach Desafío due to the advantage they had. Only if they went completely wrong we could beat them. In general, it has been a good season for Airis."
Tonight all sailors, families and supporters will gather in Puerto Calero Marina, and on the huge stage purposely built for the occasion, the crew from Desafio will receive the elegant silver salad bowl, called Quebramar GP42 Challenge Trophy.
Final results - Trofeo Cesar Manrique (after seven races)
1- AIRIS 19 POINTS
2- NEAR MISS 22 POINTS
3- DESAFIO 22 POINTS
4- ROMA GP42.2 24 POINTS
5- CANARIAS PUERTO CALERO 31 POINTS
6- MADRID 39 POINTS
7- CASER-QUUM 40 POINTS
8- BODEGAS LUIS ALEGRE 61 POINTS
Final results - Quebramar GP42 Cup 2008
1- DESAFIO 114 POINTS
2- AIRIS 129 POINTS
3- NEAR MISS 136 POINTS
4- ROMA GP42.2 161 POINTS
5- CANARIAS PUERTO CALERO 187 POINTS
6- MADRID 198 POINTS
7- CASER-QUUM 259 POINTS
8- SEAWONDER007 325 POINTS
9- ROMA GP42.1 331 POINTS
10- FERMAX 348 POINTS
11- BODEGAS LUIS ALEGRE 349 POINTS