Green day at the Audi MedCup
While many of their nearest rivals had an up-and-down day, it was solid consistency which kept the green TP52 of the 2008 champions Quantum Racing at the top of the Audi MedCup Circuit’s Marseille Trophy regatta leaderboard today. In GP42 Series, the other green boat, Iberdrola, won both races.
Out on Marseille's Rade Nord, a switch from yesterday’s southern arena, the breeze was equally hard to read and several teams results roller-coastered from one race to the next. Quantum Racing’s fifth and sixth keeps them ahead of Matador only on tie-break as the Argentine TP52 had a taste of life at the both extremes.
Alberto Roemmers’ Matador crew sailed a strong first race, getting into slightly stronger wind to the right early on in the first beat to lead from first turn, winning by a handsome margin in the 5-9 knots of gentle southwesterly breeze. But in the second race they found themselves at the wrong side of a big shift and slumped from third at the first turn to end up tenth over the finish line. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE made their key gain as they rose from eight to second by profiting from that one shift. The Franco-German team were tenth in the first race.
Top scorers of the day were Ben Ainslie and TeamOrigin who scored a third in the day’s first then convincingly won the second race to elevate themselves to third on the regatta standings.
Iain Percy and strategist Santi Lange showed an almost uncanny ability to read the pressure best, preserving their gains when they could, also proving that they seem to have put their Cascais speed issues behind them.
The leader board after five races is incredibly close. Only five points separate the top five boats. Quantum Racing are credited with the lead by virtue of their two victories yesterday, although they share the top spot with Matador and TeamOrigin are only one point behind.
Quantum’s starting has been excellent. They had to dig deep and fight back when they fouled Bribón at the leeward gate of the second race. As skipper-helm Terry Hutchinson put it: “I had a brain fade at the leeward mark. I was making sure that we did not run into the transom of Matador at the leeward mark and was sitting to leeward and when I stood about a length to the mark I saw Bribon coming in at pace. That was a brain fade, but we did our 720 and got right back into. We took what was given to us. It is tricky, trickier than normal Marseille. We are battling along. Probably the most positive thing is that our top mark deltas are fourths, we are rounding 4,1,1,4,4, and it is not easy conditions. We are starting well. Kevin and Greg are giving us really good information pre-start and we are getting off clean and the boat is going well."
The coastal race’s 1.5 points bounty on tomorrow could prove decisive in this regatta and Quantum Racing go into it perhaps with an edge of confidence after winning the longer race here last year.
Francesco Bruni tactician on Matador said: “We have had an up-and-down day where we have done very good things and very bad ones. We are a little bit angry with ourselves for the second leg in which we were third and we have made the mistake or staying in the middle with less wind than in the sides. Sometimes you need to bet for one side and risk a little instead of lowering the risk but reaming in the middle without pressure. We paid a lot for this mistake, we have paid seven points. Of course the regatta is still open, this is a much opener regatta than Cascais. I guess we have to keep fighting.”
The Green Fear is back
The GP42 Series has in the past lived in fear of the bright green Iberdrola (ESP), sailed by the Desafio America’s Cup team to devastating effect to dominate the class during its 2008 season. Most of that fear had dissipated over the last year as the newer boats had risen to the top, the Green Machine came out to play only a few times during the 2009 season, and they turned in an uninspiring performance last month at the Portugal Trophy in Cascais.
But the fear is back. The light 6-9 knot and conditions of today suited the narrower 2007 and 2008 Botin & Carkeek designs compared to those of last year, and Iberdrola is the fastest and best-sailed of them all, putting two convincing wins on the scoreboard today to take a 4-point lead in the GP42 Series over current runner-up John Bassadone's Peninsula Petroleum (GBR). This is only the second appearance of this Gibraltar-based team in the Audi MedCup, and already they are showing much-improved performance over their results from Cascais.
Laureano Wizner skipper of Iberdrola commented: ““A perfect day. This boat loves the light breeze, the configuration is just perfect for light winds, so that has allowed the crew to make comfortable work, the tactics has also been perfect and the work in general has been excellent. When things run smoothly everything is easy and everybody is happier. A perfect day.”
Iñaki Castañer tactician on Península Petroleum added: “We are very happy, we coordinated all the team work on board perfectly, on such a complicated day as today. So we are pleased because the owner has steered the boat very well, and we have been focused, which is our goal, to sail focused and always being in the front of the fleet. After a few days of racing, consistency pays. So we are satisfied with the crew and with the boat.”
AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA) also showed great promise today, recovering from a bag caught on their rudder in the first race to grab and maintain a second place in the second race. This 2008 Felci design has also proven fast in light air, and is under the helm of owner Roberto Monti (ITA).
This regatta may very well come down to weather: if the light conditions persist, Iberdrola will be the boat to beat. But if the breeze comes up, watch out: the Madrid Caser Seguros (ESP) and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) teams will come roaring back.
Overall – Day 2
1. Quantum Racing (USA), 8+1+1+5+6= 21 points
2. Matador (ARG), 3+3+4+1+10= 21
3. TeamOrigin (GBR), 4+7+7+3+1= 22
4. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 2+9+2+10+2= 25
5. Bribón (ESP), 1+8+8+2+7= 26
6. Synergy (RUS), 9+2+6+7+4= 28
7. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 10+6+5+4+3= 28
8. Cristabella (GBR), 6+4+3+8+9= 30
9. Luna Rossa (ITA), 5+5+10+9+5= 34
10. Artemis (SWE), 7+11(RAF)+9+6+8= 41
11. Bigamist 7 (POR), 12(DNC)+12(DNC)+12(DNC)+12(DNC)+12(DNC)= 60
Overall – Day 1
1. Iberdrola (ESP), 1+1= 2 points
2. Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), 3+3= 6
3. AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), 5+2= 7
4. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 2+5= 7
5. Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP), 4+4= 8
From Chris Cameron/Emirates Team New Zealand www.chriscameron.co.nz