Strong start for Bribon
The waters off Cartagena, a new venue for the MedCup Circuit, have already dealt a new set of challenges for the crews and the regatta organisers. The deep waters shelve sharply to the shore and the adjacent steep mountainsides swirl the breezes. Combined together the choppy, big, disorganised seas and the shifty winds, which ranged from 14-21 knots today, were an invitation to the opportunists and smart, slick sailors. Certainly the opening day of this fifth regatta of the Audi MedCup Circuit did not simply bow down and respect the speeds of the newer boats in the fleet, and there were plenty of chances to use the wind shifts and big waves.
While series leaders Quantum Racing relinquished their early lead in the race when they fouled their spinnaker sheet on the first hoist, Bribón’s winning tactics carried the same hallmarks as previous race victories this season.
After a modest first beat to lie 12th behind leaders ONO (ESP) and Caixa Galicia (ESP) then double Olympic medallist Ross MacDonald (CAN) used the shifts downwind for helm Dean Barker (NZL) to challenge on the second beat and cross the bows of both boats, going on to win by 27 seconds from Matador (ARG) which has Thierry Peponnet (FRA) serving as tactician, with Artemis (SWE) third.
Quantum Racing made no such errors in the second race and went on to win, leading from first mark to the finish, although Platoon powered by Team Germany - also looking to atone for a less than perfect first race - pushed the American boat to the gun, the Audi backed German boat timed across just one second behind and losing out only on one final surge by Terry Hutrchinson on the helm of Quantum.
Platoon lost out at the windward mark, first time up in the first race, when they tried to make a port tack approach and ended up having to duck to the back of a very busy starboard tack line up, skipper Jochen Schuemann (GER) reporting later that they were forced to sail all day with no instruments.
While the two leaders duelled down the final run, so too it was close between Bribón and Spain’s El Desafio which has Paul Cayard (USA) back on the helm. Bribón had to swap spinnakers in a hurry on the final run, but managed to hold off the Spanish America’s Cup team by three seconds to reserve third place and the regatta lead is theirs.
“It was great, good waves and different open race course, nice to get a shifty race course," said Dean Barker. "We took a few boats on the first run of the first race, and Ross did some nice work on the second beat and in the second race we managed to come away with a third, so we are pleased with that. It was shifty and pretty puffy, and so it was really nice racing, and the forecast is for even more tomorrow and so it might even be a bit like Marseille. One of the things today was there was opportunities on both sides of the race course, and then the nice thing is when you do get a bit of an opportunity to mix it up, it works. It was really good for us. We are slowly getting more and more out of this boat, but we are certainly not as quick as the newer boats. In that breeze our speed is OK, but not as good as the newer boats.”
Quantum Racing's skipper/helm Terry Hutchinson added: “It was a disappointing first race, we had a great work up the first beat and rounded the top mark in the lead, we set our spinnaker and then the spinnaker sheet got wrapped around the coaming in the back of the boat, and started sawing through the back of the boat - a little bit of a worry! Our eight or nine boat length lead went down to zero and from there we were passed by all, but again the guys did some great work on the last run and we got back into fifth. In the second race we got the end of the line we wanted but I didn’t do such a good last wrap-up, but if today is anything to go by it is going to be full-on this week, and some awesome racing expected. It’s a good feeling to get started again. The race committee did some great work out there holding the marks, because these conditions are pretty tough on everybody.”
Ignati Triay (ESP), jib trimmer on Bribon said: “Nobody is used to these kinds of conditions, you get the feeling you are in the middle of the sea, rather than in a bay or gulf, or some kind of protected area like in Marseille, Cagliari or Palma. The shape of the coastline, coupled with a north-easterly wind on a race course set quite far from the shore means that you have a more open-water effect, and with big seas. The wind does its own thing which leaves tactics wide open. What most impressed me today was coming back from a 12th on the first beat to a 3rd on the following run, after choosing the right downwind along with ONO and CXG which put the three of us in the lead at the gate. There are a lot more options than in a normal bay and that makes the competition fantastic.”
Guillermo Parada (ARG) skipper of Matador (ARG) spoke about their race: “It was a good Start to the week since we didn’t sail brilliantly and made quite a lot of mistakes, and even then got some decent results. It has been a while since we sailed with this kind of wind and there were a few errors, as well as my starts not being too good either. I am going to have to read the manuals again, but if we can get it all straightened we will be feeling confident. The boat is going well and we still have quite a few new sails both for here and Portimao. We have run our programme well so we still have some good material to use. The race course is tough, and the depth and shifts makes it very hard for the committee to lay the marks, something we have to keep an eye on especially at the start, as they move around quite a lot!”
Parada's navigator Steve Hayles agreed: “It was very tricky out there, big wind and waves and although the breeze was up it was very shifty. Normally when the wind is up it doesn’t move around so much but with the two winds, and big mountains inland it makes it very hard to fathom out. We felt quite confused at times but we have come away with a couple of good results so as an opener that’s not bad!
"If conditions stay like this it certainly is going to make very interesting racing upwind and downwind with lots of place changes. Often in these races things don’t usually alter after the first beat but there was a lot going on out there today; a huge amount at stake which obviously makes it very interesting. When you are in the lead it is hard to maintain and behind there are always good opportunities to get by- an interesting week ahead of us for sure!
“Thierry Peponnet and I are a new partnership, I haven’t worked with him before but I’m really enjoying it. Of course every one works in a different way and that takes some time to fit in individually. It is an on-going battle to keep in the top three and look at results overall and not just this regatta.”
Standings, Region of Murcia Trophy - After two races
(Place, Boat, Nationality, R1, R2 Points total)
1. Bribón ESP (1,3, 4)
2. Quantum Racing USA (5,1, 6)
3. Matador ARG (2,6, 8)
4. Mutua Madrileña ESP (6,5, 11)
5. Artemis SWE (3,9, 12)
6. Platoon powered by T. Germany GER (11,2, 13)
7. El Desafio ESP (9,4, 13)
8. Caixa Galicia ESP (4,10, 14)
9. Audi Q8 ITA (8,7, 15)
10. Rusal Synergy RUS (12,8, 20)
Audi MedCup Circuit 2008
Standings after 37 races, Alicante, Marseille, Cagliari and Malllorca
(Place, Boat, Nationlaity, Points total)
1. Quantum Racing USA 167
2. Artemis SWE 203
3. Bribón ESP 213,2
4. Matador ARG 246
5. Platoon by Team Germany GER 255
6. Mean Machine MON 266
7. Mutua Madrileña ESP 279,4
8. El Desafío ESP 314
9. CxG Corporación Caixa Galicia ESP 342,6
10. Audi Q8 ITA 372
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