Desafio pulls ahead

After another day of very light racing for the GP42s at the Quebramar Cup

Friday May 2nd 2008, Author: Carla Anselmi, Location: United Kingdom
The eight crews of the GP42 fleet were greeted by light and testing conditions for the second day of the Quebramar GP42 Cup, as they were on the opening day. Desafío, the Spanish team, prevailed once again, finishing first in the day’s only race thereby consolidating their lead in the overall standings, after a tough battle against Airis. Near Miss made a very nice recovery through the race and crossed the finish line third.

Racing started after a one hour postponement, in order for the breeze to build. Even if the favoured end of the starting line was at the pin, the GP42 fleet crowded the committee boat. The lesson from yesterday’s races was learned - head to the coast and get as close as possible to Portofino, and that’s what they did, tacking even a few metres away from the rocks.

Right from the start, Airis and Desafío led the fleet, closely followed by Canarias Puerto Calero, rounding the top mark in that order. In the first run, the fleet decided to go to the left side of the course while Airis opted once again for the coast, risking to lose her lead as the rest of the 130-strong fleet of the event was going upwind, heading right towards them. But the gamble paid off and the Italian boat, helmed by Kiwi Cameron Appleton, rounded the leeward gate ahead despite feeling the pressure from Desafío and Canarias Puerto Calero.

In the second beat, the fleet once again headed towards the coast and the fight between Airis and the Spanish America’s Cup crew of Desafío continued unabated. At the same time Near Miss, helmed by French Cup veteran Bertrand Pacé, was working her way up the fleet, rounding the top mark in third.

In the last leg, the battle for supremacy turned into a match race between Desafío and Airis that was won by the Spanish Cup sailors in the last few hundred metres. Near Miss finished third and Canarias Puerto Calero fourth.

Right after the end of the first race the race committee tried to squeeze in a second. The fleet once again headed towards the coast in search of a possible puff of wind. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any luck and the breeze kept dying down. After they vainly kept on trying to catch the last zephyr, the race committee cancelled racing for the day.

"It was a race with winds that were stronger than what we had expected and as a result quite interesting," commented Tanguy Cariou, tactician on Near Miss. "You had to look for the wind and go close to the coast, near Portofino. During the first leg racing was much closer and we had some intense fights with the rest of the fleet, but after the top mark, the fleet spread apart and distances increased. Still, one of the trickiest aspects was when we had to cross the boats from the other classes and due to that factor the results in the GP42 fleet were more random.

"Under today’s and yesterday’s very light conditions you needed to stay alert and catch the correct wind shifts. Racing is much trickier than when you have 10 or 15 knots of wind.

"We raced well and managed to recover positions and finish third. We now need to continue our good performance in order to make up the lost ground from Thursday’s OCS.

"We are satisfied with our new boat. We sailed well but we are still learning. We obviously have no reference points for it but I’m convinced the platform is good and we would really like to be able to race under windier conditions, where the boat reaches its maximum performance and the differences among the fleet are more evident.

Jose Maria Ponce, helmsman on Canarias Puerto Calero added: "Wind conditions were difficult during the day; we barely had more than 6 knots. In my opinion the race committee took the right decision to cancel the second race when windspeed dropped to two knots. Even though these are fast boats, our speed barely passed over 1 knot at that stage.

"I’m very satisfied with the performance of the boat and the team. We carried out some changes in the crew this year and it seems we have made the right choice. As for the boat, it compares favourably with the rest of the fleet and especially the new boats. I haven’t noticed any radical evolution in the design and last year’s boats are doing very well. Desafío is leading the Quebramar Cup and we are second. Still, don’t forget that the new boats have only been sailing for a few days with completely new crews. They will obviously get better but we will also improve during the season."

The schedule for tomorrow is for two windward/leewards but, unfortunately, the weather forecast is not looking promising with light and testing conditions almost certain to prevail, once again.

Provisional results after three races:
1) EL DESAFIO - 3, 1, 1 – 5 points
2) Canarias Puerto Calero - 2, 3, 4 – 9 points
3) Airis - 6, 2, 2 – 10 points
4) Madrid - 1, 4, 6 – 11 points
5) Near Miss - 4, 9, 3 – 16 points
6) Roma 42.2 - 5, 9, 5 – 19 points
7) MC Seawonder 007 - 7, 5, 7 – 19 points
8) Roma Roma - 8, 6, 8 – 22 points

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