Emirates Team NZ by a hair
Today Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) proved why they are so firmly on course for their second successive Audi MedCup Circuit when they stretched their overall Circuit lead still further over 2008 champions Quantum Racing (USA)
After a very modest eighth in the first race the Kiwi champions bounced back to a second and then won the breezy third race to finish the day sharing the same points aggregate as the Franco-German Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER) but leading on countback.
For the Kiwi champions, who won here in July last year, that slender lead is only an early, passing bonus – a reflection of their strength and ability. The real satisfaction came as they added another eight points to their Circuit lead over Quantum Racing whose 9,3,7 for the day underlined just how testing the conditions were.
As if to underline once again the small margins between glory and a finish in the lower reaches of the 10 boat 52 Series fleet on a race track which favoured the best starters, in Race 1 José Cusi’s Bribon (ESP) were quickest off the pin end of the start line and able to gain early control of the favoured left side of the course.
They went on to win but then, unable to exert themselves so well off the start line, could only back up their victory by a ninth and an eighth.
Emirates Team New Zealand were contenders in the top three on approach to the first windward mark, but had to duck out of their port tack approach to round eighth.
Jochen Schumann’s Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE got clear early, jumping off the middle of the Race 2 start line in 6-9 knots of ESEerly wind. Their sharp start allowed them to reap the dividend on the left, but also taking a perfect line in extra breeze to their final layline to lead around the windward mark. They won their first race since Cascais in May when they crossed the finish ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand.
For the third race in succession it was the team which started best which went on to take the winning gun, although Dean Barker (NZL) and the Kiwi crew had to work hard for their victory.
While the start saw only 6-7 knots of late afternoon breeze, it swung hard left and built left flank of the first beat, new breeze piping up to more than 20 knots.
The gentle breeze was replaced suddenly by marching white horses and full power conditions, still peppered with big swings in direction on different parts of the course as the residual breeze clung to the right of the track.
Emirates Team New Zealand were able to keep the advances of Matador (ARG) in check at the approach to the second windward mark, when the wind seemed to bang back right, towards the original direction, leaving all three leading boats fast reaching into the final turn, well above the starboard lay line. But the Argentine-flagged Matador, with their 2,8,2 for the day lie third, only one point behind the kiwis and Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE.
Emirates Team NZ Skipper Dean Barker described their race: “The race course has been pretty tough all day really, shifty, puffy, big changes, and when you thought you might have been good, maybe it wasn't. And so it was hard work. In the first race we finished eighth. We had a chance early on and we were very close with Cristabella on the frist beat, and they tacked. We were going to tack to leeward and we didn't. We went straight and might have gone around at the top mark second, but we went round eighth. It’s just the way it is sometimes. You miss an opportunity and you can't recover. But it was nice to bounce back with a nice second and first and get ourselves back in contention”.
Vasco Vascotto strategist on Matador added: “The last race's been exciting and tricky, cause we had to stick to the left, it was quite clear to us prior to the start, but I think everybody knew it by then. So they've all started on the pin end, and we've decided to take it easier and go right, cause the pin end was packed, and we decided to go for plan b. From then on the race was simple, cause the one which got to the left first won. We are happy, a very good day for us”.
Ian Walker tactician onboard Bribón commented: “Today you just had to make a good start and go left, basically. First start Gonzo made a great start on the pin end. We were the first boat on the left and hung on to the lead, that was great. The second start we weren't sure about the left so we kind of made a mistake there. The last one we wanted to go left but we thought it would be better to get left from up the line, to try and have a clear start, but in the end we didn't have a clear start so we got bounced around. So it was tough, there wasn't much overtaking today, you had to make a good start and go left”.
TeamOrigin got off to a great start in the first race but it seemed the left side was the way to go and the British crew didn’t go all the way. Strategist Andrew Simpson explained: “We wanted to go left but didn’t commit to the pin because we wanted to get a decent safe lane to the left, sadly we couldn’t hold the lane so had to bail and ended up getting tacked on four or five times so in those light winds tacking isn’t ideal and we got sailed to the back which was tough. The left came in strong and we were pretty frustrated but that’s what happens sometimes”
The second and third races TeamOrigin placed fourth in each. “The breeze really picked up, we had 17-18 knots at times so it became really good racing by the middle of the third race. It was great fun, a tricky day and we kept fighting back,” commented Simpson.
Tactician Iain Percy added: "We battled hard today but things didn't fall our way. We can still finish in the top three in the series but a lot will depend on the coastal race, which counts 1.5 points and where we have often struggled. But we are due a good one."
42s poised to pounce after practice race
Today’s practice race action might be a prelude for finale of 42 Series off Cagliari where hard work and a little luck yields a change in the lead on the last leg of the race.
In the light 6-8 knot conditions, AirisEssential (ITA) showed great promise, leading Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP) and the rest of the pack around the track by a healthy 30 second margin around the first top mark.
But the series leader, led by skipper Jose Maria van der Ploeg (ESP) and driven by helmsman Paolo Cian (ITA) closed to within less than a boat length at the second top mark, poised to pounce on the Italian team driven by owner/driver Roberto Monti (ITA).
And according to Madrid-Caser Seguros owner Javier Goizueta (ESP), it was just two waves and a little wind that made the difference to propel them to the lead: “We were just alongside them, and we got lucky: just a little puff came through to us first, and then a couple of waves for us to surge ahead into the lead.”
Madrid-Caser Seguros will be looking to try and repeat this a few more times over the next few days to maintain their slim lead in this final push to overall victory.
Region of Sardinia Trophy
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 8+2+1= 11 points
2. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 5+1+5= 11
3. Matador (ARG), 2+8+2= 12
4. Synergy (RUS), 6+5+3= 14
5. TeamOrigin (GBR), 7+4+4= 15
6. Bribón (ESP), 1+9+8= 18
7. Artemis (SWE), 3+6+10= 19
8. Quantum Racing (USA), 9+3+7= 19
9. Cristabella (GBR), 4+10+6= 20
10. Luna Rossa (ITA), 10+7+9= 26
Official Training Race
1. Madrid – Caser Seguros (ESP)
2. AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), +00:09
3. Península Petroleum (GBR), +00:41
4. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), +01:01