Five straight bullets for Mean Machine
Their nearest opposition was the current MedCup champion Torbjorn Tornqvist with his new Artemis, but it was on the final windward leg that Mean Machine’s tactical brains, Ray Davies and Tom Dodson called the shifting breeze right and crossed the finish line of what proved to be a well timed shortened course.
Mean Machine left Artemis trailing nearly one minute behind, but the Swedish skipper and crew, led by John Kostecki as tactician, are now finding their stride with the new Artemis as they learn the optimum rig and sail settings. Three consecutive second places ensure Artemis have climbed to fifth overall.
Race 7 of the regatta enjoyed a brisk 14-16 knots of southerly breeze. Mean Machine’s strategy was designed as much to ensure a period of clear wind immediately after the start gun as it was in dragging to the favored side of the course. Platoon powered by Team Germany, with triple Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann steering, went to the opposite flank and rounded fourth 33 seconds behind the leaders..
Their fifth victory in a row for the team which won the MedCup in 2006, surpasses their string of four wins in Punta Ala in 2006, on the previous Mean Machine’s debut regatta. Increasingly de Ridder and team - a potent mix of down to earth Kiwis, American, Dutch and British sailors - look like they could repeat that maiden regatta victory.
De Ridder’s programme is astutely managed and the team tightly knit. Long days with little sleep when they were preparing the new boat together a three weeks ago, grabbing a few hours rest when they could in their makeshift billet at the Team New Zealand base in Valencia are the kind of adversity that bonds the unit as much as victories on the water.
“To be honest there were some big wind shifts out there and if you used them well it was easy to open up that kind of margin, but the boat does seem to be quick enough," commented Mean Machine strategist Tom Dodson. "What is perhaps different about this team is that you see other teams win a race or two and their attitude changes a lot, but I think we stay confident together and really stick to it and tough it out. It is a real mix on this boat and of course we have been together for a long number of years and that really helps. We really just concentrate on sailing our boat to the target speeds. It is certainly not like 2006 when we had that little speed edge.”
Their six points margin over Artemis leaves them a relatively straightforward goal for the final day’s racing. Astern of them Doug de Vos and Fred Howe’s Quantum Racing are two points ahead of Bribon. Dean Barker and Ross Macdonald delivered a fifth place today for skipper HRH Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, who enjoyed his first day’s racing on the boat on the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit. Winners here last year, Bribon have two points to make up on Quantum to make second, and have two points in hand over Javier Banderas’s Tau Ceramica Andalucia
On behalf of Artemis John Kostecki said: “We were not really that well prepared coming here and so there has been a lot of learning to do, but we are getting there now, we have done a lot with the rig tuning, the sails and the set up. We have a great coach in Steve Erickson who is a great set of eyes off the water and has given us some great input. The last boat (now Tau Ceramica Andalucía) was pretty fast and well set up, and seems still to be. From where we are our goal is to just keep improving. We have a good crew and we are starting to work together with more input from everyone. And I am sure that we will reach a stage where I can really just concentrate more on my role as tactician."
City of Alicante Trophy/Audi MedCup Circuit
Provisional Standings after seven races
(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, 33)
2nd Quantum USA (4, 5, 9, 3, 2, 4, 6, 6, 39)
3rd Bribón ESP (3, 3, 1, 4, 4, 12, 9, 5, 41)
4th TAU Ceramica Andalucía ESP (1, 1, 6, 9, 9, 3, 5, 9, 43)
5th Artemis SWE (12, 11, 4, 10, 7, 2, 2, 2, 50)
6th Platoon by Team Germany GER (5, 9, 2, 5, 14, 8, 8, 4, 55)
7th Mutua Madrileña ESP (2, 4, 8, 8, 3, 6, 12, 13, 56)
8th El Desafío ESP (9, 6, 7, 11, 5, 11, 7, 3, 59)
9th Matador ARG (10, 14, 3, 2, 10, 5, 10, 8, 62)
10th Cristabella GBR (11, 2, 15, 7, 12, 10, 4, 11, 72)