Quantum into the lead

As the Russian Synergy team score their first race win of the season on day one of the Audi MedCup's Portugal Regatta

Wednesday September 17th 2008, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
After the first three races of the Portugal Trophy off Portimao, the final regatta of the Audi MedCup Circuit, there may be a pair of new names making a late season challenge, lying in second and third, but leading the regatta it is the American boat Quantum Racing whose stock is still rising as they extend their overall hold on the overall title to more than 50 points with just four days left of the 2008 season’s competition.

As the Russian crew on Synergy became the 12th different team to take a winning gun on the Circuit this season, triumphing in Race 2 in fine style, so too Riccardo Simoneschi’s Audi Sailing Team powered by Q8 (ITA) came good with their best day yet, scoring a ninth then two second places to lie second sharing the same overall points as Quantum Racing. And if Synergy had not let slip their third place which they held until the final 400 metres of the last race of the day, they too would have been on 13 points.

In the moderate breezes, 11-18 knots mainly from the North West, the racing was close and even. Murcia Trophy winners Bribón (ESP) won the first race, leading from the first mark to the finish line. The right side of the course paid and the leading three boats around the first windward turn were the same top three finishers, with Audi Q8 getting second and Tau Ceramica Andalucia (ESP), where Manuel and Luis Doreste (ESP) are combining their considerable talents, took third.

Synergy (which won the Marseille Trophy as USA-17) were quick off the start line and with Cameron Dunn (NZL) as tactician, Sergey Pichugin (UKR) steering and Francesco Mongelli (ITA) navigator, combining well to use the inshore, right hand windshift at the top of the beat well, with a perfect layline, to build a lead which was never challenged. El Desafio benefited as well over on this inshore line to round second. Quantum Racing and Bribón rounded overlapped, with the circuit leaders pushing inside. The minor altercation saw Quantum Racing take a penalty which cost them four places.

The breeze built again late afternoon as the cloud cover increased, and the final race of the day saw 16 knots of wind. Terry Hutchinson (USA) on Quantum Racing made a fast, clean start – the best in the 15 boat TP52 fleet – and the black and green Botin Carkeek design were able to control the right side of the course early. El Desafio had worked their way up to second but had to take a penalty at the top of the second beat. They may have relinquished second to Audi Q8, but they came back with a fighting final run, stealing low on a gust of wind pressure to take third and spoil Synergy’s chances of two podium results in the one day.

While the Quantum Racing Team added a further 11 points to their circuit leading margin by virtue of their 4,8,1 today to lead by 52.8 points over Bribón, it was the Audi Q8 and Synergy crews who showed the most marked improvements. Audi Q8 have modified their keel bulb, and changed the afterguard to use double Olympic medallist Charlie McKee (USA) as tactician - who sailed with many of the core crew on the Luna Rossa America’s Cup programme - and he is backed up here by Thierry Peponnet (FRA) as strategist.

“The boat is going better after modification to the stability, and it is going in a good way for sure,” said Peponnet. “And I find a good way to work with Charlie and it is a really nice way to sail. I think before there were problems of confidence and boat speed. If you don’t have confidence in the way you sail then that affects your tactics and the way you can do tactics compared to other boats. But for sure these changes have motivated everybody. I think the reaction of the crew has been great, and Charlie is doing a really good job there.”

Sergiy Pichugin (UKR), Helmsman of Synergy (RUS) commented on their performance today: “We realised everything today - we had some very good racing, the team were really focussed and there was great concentration, everything came together. Hard work, good preparation for this regatta and also before this regatta we have had quite a few good results but it has just not reflected in the overall points, today we can take the results and the points! We worked very hard as a team and now we look like a team, we just needed the time to come together and get the confidence in ourselves.”

Riccardo Simoneschi (ITA), skipper-owner-helmsman of Audi TP52 powered by Q8added: “ We finally have the boat set up in a proper way which gives us confidence and we are back to a better way of sailing. It is what we have been looking for and struggling over during the last few months. I think that we sailed well and basically now have the speed to hang on when we are in trouble and get through the pack and that does make a difference.”

Terry Hutchinson (USA), Helmsman-skipper of Quantum Racing said: “It was a really good day, our goal was to go out and average fifth so and we beat that so it was a great day. An incredibly mediocre start in the first race and Morgan (Larson), Mark (Mendelblatt) and Ian (Moore) did a good job in getting us back to a four.In the next race had a tangle with Bribón at the top mark. We are not 100% sure how that would have unfolded in the protest room but given our position in the event we considered it a prudent thing to do for us to do a penalty turn so we did and then won the last race. The middle race was awesome, we came out of the situation last and battled back to an eighth, and in some ways the fact that we beat Bribón in that race was a really strong testament to the team.”

Portugal Trophy
Standings after three races:
Place, Boat name, Nationality, R1 R2 R3, Points
1. Quantum USA (4,8,1) 13
2. Audi Q8 ITA(2,9,2) 13
3. Synergy RUS (9,1,4) 14
4. El Desafio ESP (10,2,3) 15
5. CXG Corporación Caixa Galicia ESP (7,3,9) 19
6. Mutua Madrileña ESP (12,4,5) 21
7. Tau Andalucía ESP(3,14,6) 23
8. Matador ARG (8,5,10) 23
9. Bribón ESP (1,11,12) 24
10. Artemis SUE (5,7,13) 25

Audi MedCup Circuit 2008
Standings after 48 races in Alicante, Marseille, Cagliari, Mallorca. Cartagena and Portimao.
Place, Boat name, Nationality, points.
1. Quantum Racing USA 228
2. Bribón ESP 280,2
3. Artemis SWE 296
4. Matador ARG 310
5. Platoon by Team Germany GER 339
6. Mutua Madrileña ESP 346,4
7. El Desafío ESP 367
8. CxG Corporación Caixa Galicia ESP 423,6
9. Audi Q8 ITA 464
10. Mean Machine MON 521

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