Spanish teams dominate

After day one of the GP42 Quebramar Cup regatta in Santa Margherita Ligure

Friday May 2nd 2008, Author: Carla Anselmi, Location: United Kingdom
The Spanish teams stole the spotlight on the opening day of the GP42 Quebramar Cup 2008 in Santa Margherita Ligure, on the Italian coast. Yesterday weather forecasts were not rosy, but the day opened with bright sunshine and a breeze that never rose anove 8/9 knots and progressively died down, allowing the eight GPs to finish two windward/leeward races of about 10 miles each.

The crew of El Desafio, coming all from the Spanish America’s Cup challenger with helmsman Laureano Wizner and Santiago López-Vasquez calling tactics, are leading the provisional standings of the international GP42 circuit opening event. In the first race, Madrid was the undisputed leader of the fleet, finishing more than four minutes ahead of the rest, second place was awarded to Canarias Puerto Calero after a thirlling photo finish between them and El Desafio. When the two Spanish boats crossed the finish line, they were separated by a mere 15 centimeters and less than a second. The key to the first race was to go as close as possible to the coast and the team sponsored by the Spanish capital city went to the extreme, almost entering into the Portofino harbour.

Yet if the Spanish started the attack, the Italians reacted with a counterattack, in the form of Roma GP42.2, led by Paolo Cian and Sébastien Col, who promptly reacted after a mediocre first race by winning the second. With Cian steering the Italian boat was sailed well and together with Desafío and Airis they had a tough battle for the three top spots. They crossed the finish line first after Airis got tangled with a small boat 200m from the line.

However the results from the second race were turned on their head when Roma GP 42.2 and Near Miss were finally deemed to be OCS.

After these changes, the Spanish teams now claim the three top positions, just one point from each other, with in third Canarias Puerto Calero, led by José Maria Ponce (and with the only woman sailor of the fleet Alicia Ageno navigating). Despite being a boat of the “old generation” she showed excellent consistency.

“It’s been a complicated day for two reasons," commented Desafio tactician Santiago Lopez-Vazquez: "First of all, the light and shifty wind conditions that were worsened by significant wind holes. Second, the presence of 135 boats of various classes and sizes in the same race course that lead to various difficult situations. We had a good day and we are currently leading the scoreboard but we could equally be third or fourth. You needed to be lucky today or at least not be unlucky. We sailed well in both races but it seems we were luckier in the second one. Airis got tangled with a smaller boat 200m before the finish line and as a result we gained one position. You can bump into a 35ft boat and if they don’t let you pass them you can be very disadvantaged.

"The level of the class has risen this year, both because of the new boats and the arrival of world class sailors, such as Cameron Appleton or Paolo Cian, who in addition has a stronger crew this year. Last year we had a good boat and a good crew but this year it will be tougher to stay at the top, the level is getting closer. This is obviously better for the Quebramar Cup as well as the GP42 class.”

AIRIS helmsman Cameron Appleton added: “It’s the first time I've sailed on a GP42 and the first time we've raced our brand new boat and so far so good. We are satisfied with our performance today in some ways but also unsatisfied in others. We are satisfied because our boat performed very well, but we were unlucky in the second race as we got tangled with a small boat from another class - the guy got right into our way and completely ruined our day. We were leading in the last stretch but finished third. These things are disappointing. At the same time we were in good shape under these light conditions and other people’s actions took as away a good result. It was a tricky day and you needed luck. Unfortunately, it seemed we didn’t have one piece of luck but we sailed well and tomorrow we need to keep working on the level we achieved today and see whether we can build from our successes outside of our results”.

Tomorrow's schedule calls for two or three upwind/downwind race that will count towards the Quebramar Cup overall standing, after a unanimous decision by the boat owners.

Provisional standings after two races:
(Name of team, race results, points)
1) EL DESAFIO, 2,2 – 4 points
2) Madrid, 1,4 – 5 points
3) Canarias Puerto Calero, 2,3 – 5 points
4) Airis, 6,2 – 8 punti
5) MC Seawonder 007, 7,5 – 12 points
5) Near Miss, 4,9 – 13 points
7) Roma 42.2, 5,9 – 14 points
8) Roma Roma, 8,6 – 14 points

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