TeamOrigin break forestay
Back-to-back wins in today’s rich diet of one windward-leeward race followed by an exciting 20 miles coastal race sees Emirates Team New Zealand seize the overall lead of the Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy regatta for the TP52 Series.
In blustery winds which topped 22 knots at times and produced some exciting downwind racing, the Kiwi Audi MedCup 2009 champions produced a performance which was entirely reminiscent of their dominant form here last year when they clinched the 2009 overall title. They lead Quantum Racing across the finish line of the windward-leeward, and were comfortably ahead of Artemis in the coastal circuit.
The two winning guns for Emirates Team New Zealand contrasted sharply with the fortunes of TeamOrigin. After a hard won third in the windward-leeward, the British team still led the regatta overall by six points, but in the coastal race TeamOrigin 1851's forestay broke and the crew had to struggle around the final four miles of the 20 miles circuit under mainsail only, finishing 11th.
Emirates Team New Zealand’s afterguard read the breeze and current pattern best and were able to use their speed edge in the brisk conditions to win the windward-leeward – gaining more than 30 seconds on the downwind, choosing an inshore line against Matador who had rounded the first mark in second place.
Quantum Racing (USA) staged the best recovery of the race, gaining on the second beat from seventh place to cross second.
The coastal race started spectacularly with a wind shift in the final countdown, which suddenly placed a premium on being able to get clear of the line on port tack. Synergy, Artemis and Bribon looked to have read this change best but by the windward mark of the short opening upwind-downwind loop. Emirates Team New Zealand had forced their way back into contention, rounding third behind Synergy and Artemis. Again the inshore, right side on the downwind leg paid for the Kiwi champions and they were able to round the leeward gate mark with a small lead which they progressively increased on the long 5.5 miles windward leg.
A bold call from Matador (ARG) on this long upwind leg, breaking away to the inshore flank gained for Guillermo Parada’s crew, finding positive current flow and a lifting breeze which allowed them back into contention, turning the most easterly mark just behind Emirates Team New Zealand.
But Matador suffered a small problem on the short reaching leg when they could not drop their gennaker quick enough when the breeze went ahead and they lost two boats, dropping to finish fourth.
So Emirates Team New Zealand were the first to enjoy the affectionate cheers of the passionate crowds when the coastal race finished spectacularly in the tight confines of Cartagena harbour, with Artemis getting second and Pedro Mendonca’s Portuguese team on Bigamist 7 taking third.
Emirates TNZ skipper and helm Dean Barker commented: “Today we sailed really well, nothing to complain about. The breeze was up, great downwind conditions. It felt like a long race because it was hard work, but all in all it was a great race.
“It's fantastic to win here, we have a good history from last year here, and the year before I won on Bribón so it's nice to win again. The lighter air tends to make things a lot more even that's for sure, because the boat handling becomes a bit more easier and the speed differences are pretty minimal. TeamOrigin had a great day yesterday and we've had a good one today. A little bit more breeze would have been nice in the runs, it's been pretty lumpy in the upwind, we've had a few rough landings in a couple of waves”.
Iain Percy added his ha'penth: “We still struggled a but for pace again in the lumpy seas for sure, but on the long beat we really missed out on the positive current which was running up the shore. I am not sure who knew it was there, but those who got there and used it really did well. And Matador gained there. I think it was just a real thin strip if current but it made a difference along the shore. They pretty much went from near the back to fist up that shore, we were playing on the wind shifting right which it did do in the end, but the gains did not match those from the current. Which was a shame.
Then we were in seventh or eighth and broke the forestay, when we turned up at the island. That was race over for us. The boat is very competitive in the flat water. It has always been out weaker conditions when the seas pick up a little, but you can’t take away from we are fast when it is flat, so it’s horses for courses.”
Artemis skipper Paul Cayard added re the coastal race: “We have good speed and we had a very good start and we got to the first mark almost first and we were always in the front. Our speed was good but we didn't sail perfectly up that long beat because the group caught up to us, really we were very close at the windward mark. In fact LunaRossa was ahead of us. Alot of boats were ahead of us but we just stayed strong and then we did a very nice gybe peel and we put a different spi than every body else on the reach and that helped us a bit.
"The conditions were difficult to keep the boat going fast, there were big waves, finding the balance was difficult and the trimmers had to do a hard job today”.
Breaking ties at the top in the GP42
With their all-pro crews and their latest designs suited to today’s breezy conditions, Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP) and Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) would have been predicted to dominate today’s races in the GP42 series.
But instead consistency, minimal mistakes, and just good solid sailing rewarded the two owner-driver teams who have burst through to the top of the rankings in a near-reversal of yesterday’s leaderboard.
Roberto Monti (ITA) driving his AirisEssential overcame a mediocre start to the event yesterday to vault into the lead on a three-way tie-break with Peninsula Petroleum and Madrid-Caser, earning the day’s best scores of 3-1-1.
This is a phenomenal result for the all-Italian AirisEssential team guided by tactician Gabriele Bruni, which has until now not been able to break through to the top of the standings in the 2010 season.
In the broader view of the season standings, 2009 GP42 season champion Islas Canarias Puerto Calero’s two last-place finishes today have moved them another point back to five points behind Madrid-Caser. But there’s only four points separating the front to the back in this highly-competitive fleet, and three races remain for tomorrow.
The schedule for Sunday has been amended, advancing the possible start time by one hour in an effort to allow three windward-leeward races to be sailed.
Nacho Postigo (ESP), navigator Bigamist (POR):
“Things have been tricky today. The boats spread all over the course at the beginning, but when we crossed again we were all really even, so it's been difficult to make the right decision, and I think it's all been decided in Cabo del Agua, where a part of the fleet has stayed offshore and the other has stayed inshore near the coast. The ones who were further back, and we were among them, have made very good gains. We've hoisted the spi, and after a couple of gybes we had left the boats offshore behind”.
Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 4+2+5+4+3+1+1,5= 20,5 points
2. TeamOrigin (GBR), 3+1+3+2+1+3+16,5= 29,5
3. Matador (ARG), 1+4+1+5+8+5+6= 30
4. Artemis (SWE), 5+6+2+10+4+6+3= 36
5. Quantum Racing (USA), 9+5+6+3+7+2+7,5= 39,5
6. Bribón (ESP), 7+11+4+1+10+4+12= 49
7. Luna Rossa (ITA), 2+7+9+6+2+9+15= 50
8. Synergy (RUS), 8+3+7+11+6+7+10,5= 52,5
9. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 6+8+11+8+9+10+9= 61
10. Bigamist 7 (POR), 11+9+8+9+11+11+4,5= 63,5
11. Cristabella (GBR), 10+10+10+7+5+8+13,5= 63,5
1. AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), 5+2+4+3+1+1= 16 points
2. Península Petroleum (GBR), 1+5+2+2+2+4= 16
3. Madrid – Caser Seguros (ESP), 2+3+1+5+3+2= 16
4. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 3+1+5+1+5+5= 20
5. Iberdrola (ESP), 4+4+3+4+4+3= 22