Platoon shows early form

A report from today's practice race prior to the Audi MedCup regatta in Cagliari

Monday June 30th 2008, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
Platoon powered by Team Germany were handed the lead in today's preactice race when the Audi MedCup Circuit leaders Bribon retired with a small, temporary problem, but this looks set to be a tight, close regatta.

Germany’s Platoon laid down the early marker that they will be one of the boats to beat over the course of the Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy Regatta when they won the practice race in pleasing summer sea-breeze conditions today on the Gulf of Cagliari off the island’ of Sardinia"s capital today.

With triple gold medallist Jochen Schuemann (GER) steering and Kiwi Rod Dawson calling tactics, taking the winning gun was an important confirmation of their speed in the 9-11 knots of sea breeze and flat, smooth waters, a stark contrast to Marseille’s Mistral earlier this month, and in a small way perhaps also raised German spirits after their defeat at the hands of Spain in the Euro 2008 championship final the previous evenings.

In truth it was Spain’s current Audi MedCup Circuit leader Bribon (ESP), steered by Dean Barker (NZL), which led through the first half of the practice race before withdrawing on the second beat because of a minor problem caused by a broken batten in their new mainsail, passing over the lead to Platoon powered by Team Germany
The wide, U-shaped, south facing bay is a classic sea-breeze venue and the consensus so far, after a couple of days of informal practice, is that the right is the preferred side of the windward beats. Hence the start boat was almost under siege by top contenders looking to peel to the right off the start line, but it is was Bribon who took the prime spot and showing good speed in these conditions, was able to lead around the windward mark.The series leaders have opted to bring on a new mainsail and three new headsails at this regatta.

Premature starters found it difficult to get back into the test race, among them Artemis (SWE) who were 13th, 2 minutes and 20 seconds behind at the first mark, but recovered back to eighth.

Vasco Vascotto (ITA) and the crew of Mutua Madrilena provided Naples’ successful football coach Edi Reja (ITA) with a view from the hot seat on board at the leading edge of the TP52 Med Fleet when Mutua Madrilena rose from sixth to finish third, just 14 seconds behind Platoon.

“ It was incredibly exciting experience,” said the coach who has overseen the promotion of four teams into Italy’s Serie A, “the most important part being the coordination of the team which seems to have a very fragile equilibrium. But in the end I had to give Vasco some tips on the wind and where it was coming from!”

The evidence from today’s practice race suggests this will be another very closely fought series, likely to be raced in mainly sea breeze conditions. With the wind blowing out of the SE, the heating of the land on the windward shore is quite quick and the wind arrived early and built steadily.

Bribon’s Dean Barker (NZL) reported: “The last three days have been beautiful: the sea breeze comes in pretty quickly and pretty steady and away you go. In that first bit at least it will be a lot down to how biased the start line is and at what stage of the breeze build it is. Our guys have not done a lot of sailing here, but the last couple of days suggest that it might be a little bit of a one way track which makes it a little tricky if you don’t get the start we want.”

Of their good speed today he continued: “We have been battling in Marseille and even here we have been experimenting with a few things, but there is a lot in the rig and the mainsail set up full stop, and so we are hoping we have stumbled on to something which might not be too bad. But in those conditions it is really down to how you start, because everyone kind of chugs along at the same speed, and it is pretty difficult to have an advantage but what you want to do us make sure is you don’t have any disadvantage.”

Quantum Racing (USA), with Terry Hutchinson (USA), steering crossed the finish in second, less that a boat length behind Platoon, navigator Ian Moore (GBR) who will sail the next Volvo Ocean Race with Ireland’s Green Dragons Team, said: “We have been doing a lot of work with the boat, just little things which add up. Here it is a bit like Palma, but in reverse. Everyone here is fighting for the right and the boat end of the line. There is, of course, only one spot there and if you don’t get it then you are scrapping over the leftovers. That is probably not always the case, it is not as one sided as that, but that is like the default setting. And today Bribon got it right and that was enough.”

Audi MedCup Circuit 2008.
Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy.
Practice Race, Results:
1. Platoon powered by Team Germany (GER)
2. Quantum Racing (USA)
3. Mutua Madrileña (CHI)
4. Cristabella (GBR)
5. El Desafio (ESP)

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