Desafio edges ahead
The opening race of the 8th Trofeu Quebramar-Chrysler got under way in lighter conditions but fortunately not as weak as initially forecast. The race committee was able to fire the starting gun right on time in a north western breeze of around 10-12 knots.
The start was very tight and the key to the race was to opt for the right side of the course and go as close to the coast as possible. This is exactly the plan Canarias Puerto Calero and Roma GP42.2 had and they stuck to it. The Italian boat, helmed by match race champion Paolo Cian, led the fleet from the start, closely followed by the Spanish boat, helmed by José Maria Ponce. The Italians rounded the top mark in first place but the Spaniards read the wind better in the first downwind leg and managed to edge ahead.
Canarias Puerto Calero rounded the leeward gate in first place, followed by Roma GP42.2 and Near Miss. The rest of the race turned into a duel between Ponce and Ciàn but the young Spanish crew kept their leadership. Under a breeze that built up to 15 knots, they crossed the finish line half a minute ahead of Roma GP42.2. Airis, the second Italian team, had an excellent run and finished third, ahead of Desafío and Near Miss.
With the breeze over 15 knots, the race committee didn’t waste a moment before giving the start to the day’s second race. Once again the fleet got off with a very close and tight start, with Madrid and Near Miss holding a slight advantage. Desafío made an average start, but was able to work her way up the fleet during the first beat and get positioned in second place.
Madrid rounded the top mark three boatlengths ahead of Desafío, with Near Miss, Airis and Roma GP42.2 close behind them. It seems the local knowledge brought by the team’s Portuguese tactician, Olympic Laser sailor Gustavo Lima, bore fruit. The race turned into a fierce battle between Madrid and Desafío, but the team sponsored by the Spanish capital not only stayed on top of the situation but managed to build its advantage. At the same time Near Miss and Airis were also holding their duel for third place.
The breeze was picking up and reached 20 knots in the last run, turning the Madrid- Desafío gybing duels into a nail biting photo finish. Finally, Desafío prevailed in the last stretch of the race and with a final push they crossed the finish line a mere second ahead of Madrid. Near Miss was third, half a minute behind the two Spanish yachts.
The 10-degree right shift was evident late in the afternoon and the race committee acted accordingly in changing the weather mark. The start was extremely tight and the whole fleet was packed up at the committee boat end of the starting line. Desafío and Roma GP42.2 had a very good start and led the fleet in the first beat. On the other hand, things were not as rosy for Near Miss that was penalised in an incident with Caser-Quum at the start line and had to perform a 360-degree turn.
Desafío clearly led the race despite the constant pressure by Roma GP42.2 that was also feeling the heat from Madrid and Airis, alternating second and third place in every rounding. The race was judged in its second half when the two leaders, Desafío and Roma GP42.2, managed to escape from the rest of the fleet. Still, Paolo Cian was unable to reach Laureano Wizner whose boat crossed the finish line 23 seconds ahead.
Although the breeze was constant in pressure, a slight left shift in the final beat allowed the boats that saw it to pick up some places. Airis finished third and Madrid 4th. Caser-Quum was able to overtake Near Miss, sending the Swiss to 6th place.
"I would say we had a good day," commented Roma GP42.2's Paolo Cian. "We sailed well, Alvaro Maurinho made good tactic calls but I probably made an error in the start of the second race, I got squeezed by Desafío and we reached the starting line late. Probably, without that error we could have done better in the second race as well. I think that we carried out our manoeuvres quite well and our boat speed is good.
"Tactically, the right side pays off in Cascais, generally. Still, in the last leg we were able to recover a lot by going left. I have also noticed there is a lot of difference in wind pressure between the surface and the top of the mast. Wind is quite turbulent and this is not always obvious. We trust Alvaro and it appears it pays off."
Sandro Montefusco, helmsman on Airis added: "We didn’t have a great day today. It’s a pity that we started well in the first race but two boats squeezed in ahead of us because of the current. In the second race we started well but finished fourth. The last race turned bad, we made mistakes but finally managed to finish third. We paid the price of our errors and I hope we work better tomorrow.
"Generally, the right was the favoured side and as a result it wasn’t a difficult race. You had to calculate the correct layline because the current could take you higher. That was the biggest problem but again, both upwind and downwind, the right was the side to be."
Santi López-Vázquez, tactician on Desafío said: "It’s been a good day for two reasons. Firstly, we won two races and that allowed us to grab leadership of the event. Even if it’s going to be difficult we obviously want to win this event. Second, Near Miss had a bad day and that increased our leadership in the overall Quebramar Cup standings. This makes our more confident in winning the championship for a second time, although it will be much more difficult.
"The right side was clearly the favoured one and for that reason you had few tactical options to play. You had to go to the right but you also had to know when to tack because the current could make you go over the layline. Still, there was no doubt the right was clearly favoured, especially in the second and third race."
Provisional standings of the Quebramar GP42 Cup 2008
1. Desafío 90
2. Near Miss 105
3. AIRIS 105
4. Roma GP 42.2 126
5. Canarias Puerto Calero 147
6. Madrid 150
7. Caser-Quum 204
8. Seawonder 007 244
9. Roma GP 42.1 260
10. FERMAX 268
11. Bodegas Luis Alegre 275