Preparing for Cartagena
The first two years that the Audi MedCup Circuit raced off Cartagena witnessed different extremes of Mediterranean sailing conditions.
In 2008 when Jose Cusi’s Bribón (ESP) won, it was predominantly a light winds regatta. Last year it was Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) who won in big winds, triumphing at their fourth regatta in a row to clinch their overall 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit title.
For the third consecutive visit to Murcia mainly light to moderate winds are expected for the first few days of this Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy regatta, probably averaging around 10-11 knots.
No matter the wind strengths it is a difficult, challenging and complex venue, heavily influenced by the steep, high cliffs on the shore, the wide flat land to the north east of the race area is flanked by high, rocky mountains to the north of the race track which channels any breeze from this direction.
As the penultimate regatta of the season, among the TP52 Series fleet there are a range of different targets which teams are seeking to fulfil here.
For Emirates Team New Zealand their key objective is to preserve or extend their overall lead while for the likes of TeamOrigin (GBR), Bribon, Cristabella (GBR) if they can play to their strengths in the lighter breezes it would give some of these middle order teams a fighting chance of winning their first regatta of the season as well as helping them climb the leaderboard. Equally, Quantum Racing (USA) and Artemis (SWE) aim for their second regattas wins of the season and seek to reduce their deficit on the Kiwi leaders.
The British America’s Cup team have been showing very well over the days of informal practice.
Iain Percy tactician on TeamOrigin 1851 commented: “It’s a difficult, kind of puffy, bandy sea-breeze. You have times when you are winning and losing on the boats around you, so you have to accept that is going to be happening and hope it evens out, a typical Mediterranean venue in a lot of ways.
"The end of Barcelona was just an unfortunate incident, one of those unfortunate incidents which cost us from having a pretty credible result, so we fought quite well there, but as always we made just a few too many mistakes. So, here it is just about trying to minimise those mistakes.
“We are doing different programmes every week, a Match Race event, a TP event, a Cup type event, and so it seems like a different event every week a new discipline. It has been a very busy year and it is one of those years where you are really putting into the bank good lessons learned, but at the time you are doing a lot and it feels like a lot, and it is not necessarily how you would prefer to prepare to win, but as a long term position for the team it has been great, to spend so much time in different boats, doing different kinds of racing, getting the communication channels working better and better.
"The boat is all the same, all the boats seem to have their sweet spots and that seems quite venue specific, or even day to day.”
Dean Barker skipper-helm on Emirates Team New Zealand added: “We saw 12-14 knots today. It does not look like we’ll get the same kind of winds as we did last year, but it is always hard to tell long range.
“It is a difficult venue to know. It is anyone’s guess. We love it here. It is challenging trying to understand what is going on out there. It is not easy.
“At this stage we just want to keep on doing what we have done all season, being consistent and not give up points. The standard now is such that winning a regatta is a bonus. What we have done this season has been consistently good, maybe only winning one of three regattas does not seem that good, but it is good enough to give us a pretty good points advantage. Each one is the battle, but the big prize is the war.
"It is almost a mistake to think about the big prize, we just have to focus on it race by race to sail consistently well.
“It would be nice to get at least one big day like we did last year, that was some of the best sailing we have ever done, with the bigger chutes, bowsprits and so on it would be great.”
Paul Cayard skipper-helm on Artemis said of winning in Barcelona and keeping that momentum going: “All that week we were just developing a process on our boat where we are consistently sailing well and up in the noise. And if you do that well consistently you are going to get first second or third. That time it paid of pretty nicely, but that is not going to happen all the time because then you have all the other variables which go into the racing, so that is our goal this week, to simply keep going with the good sailing habits that we found, like realising when you can push the starts.
“This venue can be pretty tricky, shifty. There are a lot of pressure differences. We had a lot of people fighting for the right and then on the second beat of the first race ETNZ got a big, nice, solid puff from the left and passed three or four boats. There is also a lot of current, a knot of current at the windward mark.
“I have raced here twice before and had two different conditions. Two years ago it was very light and last year it was windy, we can get anything. At the moment it is shaping up to be pretty light to start, but we are happy with whatever comes, we are a pretty good all round boat.”
Tuesday sees the TP52 official TP52 Practice Race prior to points racing getting under way on Wednesday. The fleet is as strong has been all season with 11 TP52’s from ten different nations competing. The schedule, once again, will be maximised over the duration of the event, looking to get 11 races in for the TP52’s and up to 10 for the five GP42’s. The coastal race for the TP52’s is scheduled for Friday.
The GP42 crews have been arriving in Cartagena and have their practice race Wednesday.
Monday saw the Audi MedCup Village for the Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy visited by the Mayoress of Cartagena Pilar Barreiro, Pedro Alberto Cruz the sports councillor for the region of Murcia and the president of Caja Mediterráneo Ángel Martín.
The regional Optimist championships started today and conclude on Wednesday, whilst onshore activities in the public village include a Gymnastics display and tomorrow night a Carthaginians and Romans show.