Tim Powell at the helm of Cristabella
Ian Roman Photography / Audi MedCup
Tim Powell at the helm of Cristabella

Cristabella into the lead

After a tricky opening day to the 2010 Audi MedCup's Portugal Trophy

Wednesday May 12th 2010, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom

Three different TP52s won the first three races of the 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit season today off Cascais at the Portugal Trophy, at the end of which John Cook's much improved Cristabella which leads the TP52 Series, while John Bassadone's Peninsula Petroleum won the practice race for the GP42 Series.

Cristabella, the British TP52 shrugged off any sailing superstitions that it may be unlucky to win a regatta’s practice race when they emerged from a challenging first day of the new 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit season with a very slender lead of just one point over 2008 champions Quantum Racing.

Cristabella, owned by John Cook, steered by Tim Powell and with John Cutler on tactics with season scored a second, eighth and a third from the three races on the bay of Cascais which were contested in moderate wind conditions which were never easy or consistent.

Underlining the strength and depth of the fleet this season, the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit TP52 Series champions Emirates Team New Zealand got off to a slow start to their defence, posting a sixth and an 11th before regaining their winning ways, by winning race 3 by 49 seconds ahead of TeamOrigin 1851.

After the first day of racing it is an easy conclusion to draw that the three America's Cup teams new to the Audi MedCup Circuit - Luna Rossa, TeamOrigin and Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE - have significantly increased the overall standard, even considering that some have had very little sailing time with their boats. Consistency across the three races was difficult and often teams which were among the vanguard of one race would find themselves slugging it out in the lower reaches of the fleet, unable to gain places in another.

Emirates Team New Zealand, for whom consistently excellent starting was one of the building blocks of their circuit title last year, made two consecutive sub-standard starts and were unable to fight back through into the top half of the fleet. When they did conspire to get off the start line in better shape, it was a familiar sight as they extended to take their first win of the season in Race 3.

Cristabella’s tactician John Cutler confirmed today that they were happy to take Tuesday’s winning gun for the practice race as much simply because "last year we could scarcely get out of our own way, so anything at all seemed worth taking." Their 2009 season finished inauspiciously when they damaged their rig in the penultimate race of the season, but with a new keel, rudder, rig, sails, and significant changes to the crew line up - including not only perennials Tim Powell and triple Farr 40 World champion Gery Mitchell, but also Roberto Bermudez as strategist and Justin Slattery on bow - early indications suggest that the British boat could be contenders this season.

Quantum Racing (USA) won the first race of the season, just passing Cristabella on the second downwind leg after the British boat had led for most of the race. Karol Jablonski (POL) then steered the Russian boat Synergy to win the second race of the day, getting the better of Matador (ARG) who took third.

For British fans, the day was significant as the first in the class for TeamOrigin in their brand new boat. Given the short work-up period the boat has had, the team were satisfied with how they got on today, culminating in their second place to Emirates Team New Zealand in the final race.

Ben Ainslie gives his views on the day's racing here.

In the GP42s it could be argued that owner/driver John Bassadone (GBR) had a stroke of Beginner’s Luck in winning today’s practice race in. After all, this was his first race appearance in his newly-renovated boat Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) (ex-Madrid), even though his team had competed a few weeks ago at the Hublot Palma Vela event without him.

But they had a strong start in the 12-14 knot conditions to allow them an early lead in the race, only to get reined in by another owner/driver, Roberto Monti's AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), which rounded the last top mark in the lead. But this lead too was not safe, as World Tour match race veteran Paolo Cian (ITA) steering Madrid – Caser Seguros (ESP) just metres astern, drove Monti and team into the corner while the remainder of the class gybed away back towards the favoured side.

The move cost Monti the race, but he didn’t seem concerned. "This is the start of a long series, we’ll have plenty of chances to get back at Paolo," he said with a smile.

Reigning GP42 Series MedCup champion Puerto Calero (ESP) sat at the dock today as team members arrived on site and their final preparations were being made. Skipper Jose Maria Ponce and his young team from Islas Canarias were planning a late day sail to shake out the cobwebs, but he seemed pretty relaxed.

Tomorrow sees the first races of the season for the GP42 Series.

Portugal Trophy, Cascais results

TP52 - Overall – Day 1
1. Cristabella (GBR), 2+8+3= 13 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA), 1+5+8= 14
3. Matador (ARG), 7+2+5= 14
4. Synergy (RUS), 8+1+6= 15
5. TeamOrigin (GBR), 4+9+2= 15
6. Artemis (SWE), 3+6+7= 16
7. Luna Rossa (ITA), 5+3+9= 17
8. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 6+11+1= 18
9. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 9+7+4= 20
10. Bigamist 7 (POR), 11+4+11= 26
11. Bribón (ESP), 10+10+10= 30

GP42 - Official Training Race
1. Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), 00:59:39
2. Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP), +00:21
3. Iberdrola (ESP), +00:24
5. Puerto Calero (ESP), DNC

 From Emirates Team NZ photographer Chris Cameron (www.chriscameron.co.nz)



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