The return of Mutua Madrileña
While Italy’s Vasco Vascotto and the crew of Mutua Madrileña (CHI) scored themselves a morale boosting pair of victories around today’s 32.7 miles, two-part coastal race into the Gulf of Angels, the bay immediately to the east of Cagliari, it was the steady perfomance of Quantum Racing (USA) which sees them at the top of both the overall leader-board for this Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy and the season long Audi MedCup Circuit.
Quantum Racing were fifth in the first section of the race and then managed to overhaul Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis (SWE) on an exciting last couple of miles to the finish, and steal the fourth place which was enough to give them a two points lead in the regatta ahead of Mean Machine (MON) and a wafer thin 0.2 point lead on the Audi MedCup Circuit.
But Jose Cusi’s Bribon (ESP) had a good day too, with two second places to atone for a slightly disappointing Wednesday.
With Flavio Favini (ITA) steering and skipper Vascotto on tactics, Mutua Madrileña converted their preference for the left side of the three mile first beat to a lead of 24 seconds over Jose Cusi’s (ESP) Bribon at the first mark.
Mutua Madrileña took the best spot at the pin-end, left extremity of the start line along with Bribon. By comparison Platoon powered by Team Germany (GER) steered by three times Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann (GER) started perfectly at the opposite, committee boat end and ploughed the best right side furrow to round ninth, already five minutes behind the runaway duo Mutua Madrileña and Bribon.
With the early breeze remaining light, 6-8 knots for most of the first ten or twelve miles, it was only on the five miles beat from the Poetto leeward buoy in the Gulf of Angels out to the scoring gate, that the sea breeze started to flex its muscles a little more, rising to 11-12 knots at times.
But it was largely on that first, opening beat when the shape of the race was really set, and even by the first mark there was already 8 minutes and 20 seconds - a lifetime in the usual scheme of TP52 racing - between Mutua Madrileña and the 13th placed boat.
Another team enjoying a return to confident mood are CXG Caixa Galicia (ESP), who in their borrowed, substitute boat (the 2007 championship winning Artemis) took third in both sections today, behind Bribon to neatly complement their second place in Race 5.
Today’s were the best results yet this season for Vascotto and his team, many of whom were with him when they won the first MedCup season in 2005, and - he says - confirms they are improving all the time with their new boat. Their season to date has not been straightforward after they broke their masthead crane just before the start of the first regatta, impairing their tuning and training. Then in Marseille, their regatta ended prematurely when their hull sustained damage at the first mark of the coastal race.
“We have been waiting on this coming and I have always been confident it would.” said Vascotto of their win today, “ The difference here so far is that we did not break the mast and have not broken the boat, so we are getting a chance to learn and sail. In Alicante the boat was new and we had no real chance to sail her. Let’s just say the difference now is that we are sailing with 10 or 12 more turns on the shrouds than we were there. Up until now we have not been able to sail. We learned a bit in the Sardinia Cup and have been changing a lot all the time.
“I was always pretty happy with choosing the left where there was a little bias to the line. And we were into a lift and I saw more pressure. As soon as we had Bribon tack on our hip below us I knew we could do it and no one would beat us. We were quite quick downwind against them, but also after what has happened already I was starting to think our luck should change here.”
Navigator Nacho Postigo, added: "We have been sailing quite consistently this week, and between Marseille and here we did another regatta it was less pressure we did a good job and have recovered a lot of self-confidence as a team, are a lot calmer and relaxed and that is paying off. The previous days we are doing well it is a consequence of the work we did beforehand. It all just came together today, and also starts, shifts, sail choices but being relaxed and trusting each other.”
Quantum’s ever pragmatic Terry Hutchinson keeps his feet flat on the ground as far as topping both leaderboards this evening: “Our day was okay, that is a fair assessment of it. Once the left started coming good, Morgan, Ian (Moore) and Mark (Mendelblatt), did a fine job of getting us there.
" We had a really nice downwind Code Zero on and they came round the last corner with a nylon sail on, so we probably took all of their lead out of them, and then they had an upwind Code Zero and they we had a downwind Code Zero and we basically just sailed through them to leeward. But it was good to pick off that point. They all make a difference. But we are very mindful that this is a long season, and at this stage it is like winning a flat stage of the Tour de France, when we all know that race is won in the mountains.”
Ian Moore, added: "It was nice to do something a little different today; it was a bit tricky but at the same time it was all what we expected it to be. A lot was down to the first beat, those that went left at the start line and thankfully we were down there! But there were a few passing opportunities, we got passed on the second beat but were lucky enough to come back and pass Artemis in the last 500 metres! When we came round the head we went for a downwind zero and they went for an A1 and it got tighter, we stayed in the high line, but they had to do two sail changes and we just gybed, enough to sneak around their bow. They almost got us again at the lighthouse but it was enough! It is a good feeling, and makes dinner more palatable this evening having got them back again!"
Bribon helmsman Dean Barker said: “It was a bit of a follow-the-leader course so Ross (MacDonald, CAN) and Marcel (Van Triest NED) did a good job picking the left side. We managed to get out to the left, it was coming and going a bit with Vasco; we managed to sneak away with some pressure but the guys that lead can control those behind. On the way in to the harbour we decided at the final mark that we were expecting the breeze to go left and chose a code zero and figured we had a big enough lead to need to change, I suppose we were also a bit lazy to change again! It was a very important result today – we knew we let ourselves down yesterday so it was good to bounce back.”
Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy Regatta.
Results after six races: (Place, Boat Name, Country, Race 1, Race 2, Race 3, Race 4, Race 5, Race 6a, race 6b Points total)
1. Quantum Racing USA (3,1,6, 1,1,5,4,21)
2. Mean Machine MON (1,4,1,2,3,6,6,23)
3.Bribón ESP (4,2,5, 7,11,,2,2,33)
4. Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,11,7,8,4,1,1,34)
5 . Artemis SWE (9,5,4,5,7,4,5,39)
6. El Desafío ESP (6, 7, 11,3,6,7,7,47)
7. Caixa Galicia ESP (12,9,9,10,2,3,3,48)
8. Matador ARG (7,8,3,6,8,10,10,52)
9. Platoon by Team Germany GER (5,10,8,9,5,9,9, 55)
10.Cristabella GBR (10,6,12,11,9,8,8,64)
11. Audi Q8 ITA (8,3,10,12,10,11,11,65)
Audi MedCup 2008 Circuit
Standings after 22 races - Alicante, Marseille and CAGLIARI
(Position, Boat Name, Country, Points.)
1. Quantum Racing USA 113
2. Bribón ESP 113,2
3. Artemis SWE 131
4 .Mean Machine MON 142
5 .Platoon by Team Germany GER 154
6 .Matador ARG 169
7 . El Desafío ESP 182
8. Mutua Madrileña ESP 185,4
9 .CxG Caixa Galicia ESP 194,6
10. Audi by Q8 ITA 224
More photos on the following pages....