TeamOrigin off to a good start
Cohesion, confidence and continuity made the difference today for Britain's TeamOrigin which leads the Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy off Cartagena, while Islas Canarias Puerto Calero won the GP42 Practice Race.
Buoyed by their team’s recent success, winning on their own home waters against the America’s Cup defenders in the 1851 Cup, Britain’s TeamOrigin emerged with a third and a first place from the opening two races to lead the Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy regatta TP52 Series fleet by a single point ahead of the Argentinian-flagged team on Matador.
Skipper Ben Ainslie pointed to their team's heightened levels of confidence, cohesion and the fact that for the first time of this Audi MedCup Circuit season they are sailing with exactly the same crew as they had at the previous TP52 regatta as key components of today’s strong opening.
They made good starts and then capitalised with smart tactics reinforced by good boatspeed and handling.
“We sailed really well today in the tricky conditions," said Ainslie. "The tracks were a bit one way and so that was not easy, so the starts were really quite critical. But Andrew Simpson and Iain Percy did a really good job of picking the right side of the course, the correct way, and the guys did sail the boat really well around the track. The boathandling was good, so we had a good day.
“Everything went our way today. We made good starts and went the right way. We have the boat going well.
“Overall it is still early for us to be looking at the overall standings, we would like to have a good regatta here, and to finish off the season with two regattas would be good for us. There is a long way to go with this one.
“This is actually the first event that we have exactly the same crew as we had for the last regatta and that helps. We have been through a few transitions as a team, for one reason or another which is always unsettling, but we had a really good time in Cowes at the 1851 Cup and that obviously helps boost the confidence in the team a bit, keeping the same guys and the continuity does make a difference.”
With the mainly easterly breeze topping 16 knots in the first race, and the second enjoying slightly gentler breezes, both times there were opportunities for the early leader to bank their gains and extend on the chasing pack, especially when the strong current was used to maximum advantage.
Matador with tactician Francesco Bruni working with strategist Vasco Vascotto won the first race when they read the current and the breeze at the top end of the first beat best, escaping with a small lead around the first windward mark which they were able to increase, to build a comfortable margin ahead of second placed Luna Rossa.
The all-Italian team sailed an excellent first run, seizing an advantage on the right of the downwind where they hooked into a big band of additional wind pressure and gained relief from the relatively strong flowing current. TeamOrigin took second place just ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand.
The strong desire of most of the fleet to go right from the start of the second race ensured that the committee boat, right hand end of the start line was extremely busy from 90 seconds before the gun. Ainslie on the helm of the British boat was first to emerge with speed out of the melée, which saw several boats shut out at the boat end of the line. With Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, Star Olympic champions, calling tactics, TeamOrigin were able to quickly draw clear of second-placed Synergy and sail their own race.
The Russian team skippered by Pole Karol Jablonski lost out on second to the Kiwi team due to one poorly executed gybe on the downwind leg, giving the New Zealanders their second place. Their 4,2 scoreline for the day added a further eight points to reigning champions’ series lead over Quantum Racing which opened with a ninth in the first race.
Ray Davies tactician on the Emirates Team New Zealand boat described their races: “We had a really good day, extremely tricky conditions. The fact that there is a lot of current and it does a big circle around the bay, I think all the boats were trying to benefit from the current. Going upwind the right hand side was strong and the left going downwind. The second race everyone was trying to get to the right and there was a little bit of committee boat bias and so it was very busy at the committee boat end. And in that situation there is only ever one or two boats that are going to get out of those situations alive and luckily we did. Origin did, Synergy did too and that was pretty much the orser at the top mark.
"And we opened up a little more margin on Quantum Racing, overall-wise to put eight boats on them, at this stage in the regatta that is huge percentage wise. And so really at the moment we just need to keep our foot on their throat.”
Argentina trimmer on Matador, Cole Parada described theirs: “In the first race we wanted to start to the right because of the current, and we managed to be among the first to do that. And that was basically it, we had good speed and a couple of tight crossings in the first beat, but had things always more or less under control.
“After that, in the downwind ETNZ and Quantum were very close but they gybed too soon and went out of the current, and that got us apart and we could sail more comfortably the rest of the race.
“In the second one we were all knew the course better, so we all went to the right. At the start we had a small incident with ETNZ, we were well positioned in order to start to the right but we couldn't at the beginning.
"In spite of it we managed to be among the four or five first boats. We kept fighting with ETNZ, Synergy and Quantum throughout the whole race, but we managed to finish fourth, which is all in all a good result”.
The GP42 Series Practice Race was won by Jose Maria Ponce’s Islas Canarias Puerto Calero team, the five boats being well tested in the brisk 12-15 knots breeze sailing a full course with three windward legs.
Points racing for the GP42 Series begins tomorrow when the Islas Canarias crew will be looking to repeat their practice race success and repair the one point penalty they were docked for arriving late at the venue.
Audi MedCup TV broadcasts live from 1250hrs tomorrow.
Results - Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy
1. TeamOrigin (GBR), 3+1= 4 points
2. Matador (ARG), 1+4= 5
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 4+2= 6
4. Luna Rossa (ITA), 2+7= 9
5. Synergy (RUS), 8+3= 11
6. Artemis (SWE), 5+6= 11
7. Quantum Racing (USA), 9+5= 14
8. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 6+8= 14
9. Bribón (ESP), 7+11= 18
10. Bigamist 7 (POR), 11+9= 20
11. Cristabella (GBR), 10+10= 20