Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez/Audi MedCup

Bribon claims practice race

Emirates Team New Zealand must keep their noses clean at the Audi MedCup regatta in Cagliari

Monday September 20th 2010, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Italy

 This Region of Sardinia Regatta is going to be about the careful balancing act of risk and reward. Emirates Team New Zealand know what it takes to win in Cagliari. The shimmering waters of the Gulf of Cagliari were the scene of just one of the Kiwi team’s four successive regatta wins last year, en route to winning the 2009 Audi MedCup, but as they plot their course towards what they hope will be their second in a row, little will change in the team’s approach.

Even with a lead of 46.5 points over second placed Quantum Racing and up to 11 races left to complete the Audi MedCup season Dean Barker and the Emirates Team New Zealand crew know there is no room for complacency.

As they seek to execute with the same ruthless efficiency that they did last year, against a fleet which has never set a higher standard, the defending champions will stick to the same gameplan, consistency and conservation are as keynote now as they have been in Cascais, Marseille, Barcelona and Cartagena.

“We are just looking to sail smart and sail clean,” emphasised tactician Ray Davies (NZL) after today's practice race. “We can’t afford to have any incidents with any boats or any break downs. And so that is going to be our primary focus. We won’t really sail conservatively, we just wont take any risks. We will sail as hard as we can, but avoid close crosses and avoid pile ups. Just basically we need to sail smart. The boat is going as fast as it ever has. We will just try to sail clean and let the boat do the work.

“It was interesting to sail on that course, because it is not straightforward. It is quite shifty and there are little local holes and bends. It is going to be an interesting course to sail on, with lead changes and position changes, and it can get really compressed coming into the bottom mark. When the wind shifts boats are over-layed and we saw a bit of that today.”

The waters off the Region of Sardinia’s capital also hold fond memories for the Quantum Racing team under skipper-helm Terry Hutchinson (USA). This was where they won their first regatta together as a team in 2008, going on to secure the series title in Portimao, Portugal.

They have just over 20 points on Matador (ARG) and TeamOrigin (GBR), but Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis (SWE) team are also breathing down the necks of that duo, and any one of these three may seize any opportunity to drag the 2008 champions back into the pack.

“We are probably in the most difficult position than anybody here, we have ETNZ up ahead, and we have three boats packed in, who all want our position, so, probably this regatta should be, for us," said Project Manager Ed Reynolds. “We are probably in the most difficult position than anybody here, we have ETNZ, something dramatic has to happen for them not to win.But we are the only ones with even a remotly minor chance of doing anything. So I'm sure they are not going to be overly kind to us, and 20 points behind us, we have three boats packed in, who all want our position. So, probably this regatta should be, for us, the most difficult because of the top six boats, we are the number one boat. They know they can't reach ETNZ but we are within touch.

“So this one, we talked a lot about, this is risk management, this is controlling the variables. The Kiwis have been fantastic. We will all walk out of this with our heads really high if we can be on the podium."

And as the season draws to its conclusion all ten 52 Series crews know that the final Audi MedCup regatta of 2010 will be the one they remember most readily, but hopefully for the right reasons.

Who can forget the extraordinary finale in 2009, on the horns of a buffeting Mistral when the windward mark was dragged, when top regatta trophy contenders let their prospects slip through unforced errors, and when simple gear failures in the strong winds, added an unwanted extra points ballast?

Even today’s practice race, contested in 6-11 knots of sea breeze and flat waters - proved there will be surprises all the way until the finish. Although Britain’s TeamOrigin seemed to have done enough to win, Jose Cusi’s Bribon (ESP) – renowned as a light winds, flat water performer – stole victory when they found extra wind pressure down the right side of the final run.

Racing for the 52 Series at the Region of Sardinia Trophy starts tomorrow with the start sequence at 1300hrs and up to three races scheduled.

With more of today’s light to moderate sea breezes expected over the coming days the 42 Series Official Practice Race may prove which boat is best optimised for these conditions. Series leader Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP) has a seven points margin to work from but racing has proven incredibly tight all season. Racing for the 42 Series starts on Wednesday.

52 Series - Official Practice Race
1. Bribón (ESP)
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), +00:04
3. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), +00:14
4. Artemis (SWE), +00:17
5. Matador (ARG), +00:49
6. Quantum Racing (USA), +00:52
7. Luna Rossa (ITA), +01:01
8. Cristabella (GBR), +01:20
TeamOrigin (GBR), DNF
Synergy (RUS), DNF


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