Mean Machine by a point
Their maiden regatta victory with the brand new Mean Machine, which was only launched on 3 May, mirrors their success with at the start of their 2006 Med Cup Circuit winning season when they won in Punta Ala, Italy in the previous Mean Machine with a scoreline which included four race wins. This time their winning tally includes five race wins, but there is little doubt that the Audi MedCup circuit has moved up on immeasurably since then.
With a possible 60 races and no opportunity to discard poor results over the whole season, this may be a winning start for the Mean Machine team and their new Judel Vrolijk design, but De Ridder believes that seven or eight boats have a real chance of winning the Audi MedCup Trophy.
“I think it is going to be a very competitive year - there are 7 or 8 teams with very good crews, and in Marseille it is going to be all on again! I wouldn’t be surprised to see another boat winning it, and us 5th, 6th or 7th,” he said. “It was looking similar to last year, when the King was in the lead and we were hunting them down, and the last race was also cancelled with just one point separating us from Bribón. It was a fair deal at the end - we have both got what we wanted. I think it was a good call to cancel with the wind shifting so far left, but we were already well placed at the pin end of the start line!"
Mean Machine went into what proved to be the last race with a lead of six points over the American boat Quantum Racing skippered and steered by Terry Hutchinson (USA) and eight points over Bribon, who won the City of Alicante Trophy last year.
A significant wind shift on the first leg of the race punished Mean Machine who had chosen the very opposite side of the race course. While they rounded the first turn in ninth place, it was Bribón steered by Dean Barker (NZL) and skippered by the King of Spain, with Canada’s double Olympic medallist Ross Macdonald making the tactical calls, who read the windshift best.
When they turned for the first run they already had a lead of half a minute and were tied on overall points with Mean Machine. While Bribon extended, with the King driving across the finish line, Mean Machine took the one crucial place which ensured victory was theirs.
A second race was attempted but with heavy rain clouds over Alicante city proving too much of an unsettling influence on the breeze, the time limit expired.
Second place for Bribón rewards a high level of consistency, their 12th then 9th on the coastal race proved their heaviest ballast in a scoreline comprising six races in the top five.
Bribón helmsman Dean Barker commented: “We were really pleased, we wanted to go out there and have a couple of good races. We had a great first race and was looking forward to a second with just one point there between Mean Machine! But we are happy with our second overall.
"The King had a great day he got to steer quite a bit and enjoyed himself immensely! We had no expectations coming in here and we have seen that certainly in light to medium conditions we are pretty competitive. I think when the breeze comes up we see that the new boats maybe have a click of an edge so its going to be hard work in the events with more breeze but for now we are happy indeed.
"It was a good result for a bunch of us Emirates Team New Zealand guys and I think there will be a bit of ribbing as the competition goes on!” (Kiwi Cup team sailors make up the majority of the Mean Machine crew - in fact the top three places were monopolised by afterguard members from Emirates Team New Zealand - Davies and navigator Kevin Hall (USA) getting one over on their former helm Barker, and strategist Hutchinson.)
Meanwhile Quantum finished third, five points behind Mean Machine and four points behind Bribon.
Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper of Quantum commented: “We were a little disappointed because we had such a nice start and didn’t get anything going our way today, we lost a lot to the guys to the left of us. It was tricky from that moment on, and showed that we have a lot of work still to do going downwind. Right now we are just hanging on there to everybody.
"But we sailed a good regatta. There is so much room for improvement that we are all keeping positive. I think I taught those fellow kiwis too much!”
After leading on the first day of the regatta fourth place is an excellent result for the Tau Ceramica Andalucia team whose choice of the 2007 MedCup champion Artemis, looks to have been a shrewd purchase.
As well as winning the Alicante Town Hall Trophy for triumphing at this City of Alicante Trophy regatta, the Mean Machine crew also collected the Breitling Trophy for the best elapsed time over all eight races. Bribón’s second place earned them the Generalitat Valenciana Trophy, and the Alicante Port Authorities Trophy went to Quantum for their third place.
City of Alicante Trophy/Audi MedCup Circuit - Final Results
(Position, Boat, Country, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6a, R6b, R7, Total Points)
1st Mean Machine MON (7, 16, 5, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 8, 41)
2nd Bribón ESP (3, 3, 1, 4, 4, 12, 9, 5, 1, 42)
3rd Quantum USA (4, 5, 9, 3, 2, 4, 6, 6, 7, 46)
4th TAU Ceramica Andalucía ESP (1, 1, 6, 9, 9, 3, 5, 9, 12, 55)
5th Platoon by Team Germany GER (5, 9, 2, 5, 14, 8, 8, 4, 3, 58)
6th Artemis SWE (12, 11, 4, 10, 7, 2, 2, 2, 10, 60)
7th Mutua Madrileña ESP (2, 4, 8, 8, 3, 6, 12, 13, 9, 65)
8th El Desafío ESP (9, 6, 7, 11, 5, 11, 7, 3, 6, 65)
9th Matador ARG (10, 14, 3, 2, 10, 5, 10, 8, 5, 67)
10th Cristabella GBR (11, 2, 15, 7, 12, 10, 4, 11, 13, 85)