Two bullets for Synergy
The crew of the Russian TP52 Synergy are no strangers to winning races on the Audi MedCup Circuit and were podium challengers ten days ago in Sardinia, but today in a building sea breeze off Valencia at the the TP52 World Championships was the first time they had ever won two consecutive races at this level. They did so with a new helmsman, top Russian match racer Eugeniy Neugodnikov steering his first ever top level TP52 Series races, having only had a couple of days practice.
In a near perfect sea breeze, which built from an early eight to 11 knots for the first race and peaked during an exciting third windward-leeward contest at 22 knots, the Russian crew featuring a cosmopolitan afterguard in the shape of Kiwi regular tactician Rod Dawson and Italian navigator Francesco Mongelli, opened with a modest fifth in the first race before their back to back bullets.
Terry Hutchinson and the Quantum Racing crew, with Farr 40 world championship winning owner Jim Richardson riding shotgun, won the first race and then posted a pair of third places, leaving the 2008 World Champions locked on the same points aggregate as the Russian regatta leaders.
Quantum Racing won the first race leading from the first windward mark to extend on each leg to cross ahead of Jochen Schuemann's Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE took second in the perfect sea breeze conditions of 8-10 kts.
Quantum Racing started well mid line and were well placed to steal the early jump on the fleet when they first gained with extra wind pressure and a small left shift early in the first beat. Defending world champions Matador (ARG) were not so fortunate starting off the pin end of the start line and had a little less breeze over the early part of the first beat, losing out on third to Artemis (SWE).
Synergy won the second race of the day in the brisker 15 to 18 kts sea breeze. Although Quantum Racing lead at the first windward mark the Russians took the right side down the first run with a bear away set at the first top mark. They showing the good downwind speed that the Reichel Pugh design has often shown, leading at the leeward gate and were not challenged again. Matador took second with Quantum Racing third.
Synergy's second win of the day, with the breeze built more, was almost a carbon copy of their previous victory, again starting mid-line alongside and under Quantum Racing. This time it was Artemis which led comfortably around the top mark, but Synergy were matching them through the leeward gate and went on to win, with Artemis second and Quantum Racing third.
Eugeniy Neugodnikov described his day: "It was the first races for me on the TP52, and this was my fourth day on the boat. Everything is different with such a big team. Before the biggest crew I sailed with was six or eight people, match racing at the Congressional Cup, Long Beach in California. But around me there are such professional people and all the time we had good speed, because we have a very good main trimmer in Chris Main, and all the time he was helping me. Our tactics were good and on the downwind all the maneuvers were clear which all helps. Maximum before this was 40 feet, I sailed a little bit on the older boat like Synergy but it was a long way from here in 2006."
His navigator Francesco Mongelli added: "There was more breeze than expected in the end, we know that in flat water with a good breeze the boat is very fast, we know how to manage the boat and I think we did a really great job on the speed, and deciding where to go. It was never obvious where to go through any of the races but I think Rod Dawson made a good interpretation of what was really happening and because the speed was good it helped. Flat water the boat speed when you are clean of other boats is still very good.
"The breeze was increasing but not so shifting. We started mid line because the helmsman is good but new to the class, so the risk to stay close to the others on the line was one way wanted to manage, it was too high. So we went for less risk off the start lines â€“ maybe giving a little away."
Artemis owner-helm Torbjorn Tornqvist gave his take: "I am quite pleased with the day, a nice sea breeze but it got a little more difficult with the chop later in the day. Cagliari was for me to get back into it, and I could feel I am much more prepared now and we have been looking forward to this and we feel good about this.
"This means a lot to me. The season did not end as we wanted it to. This is a way to show that the quality is there and where we feel we should be."
TP52 World Championship - After Day 1
1. Synergy (RUS) - Eugeni Neugodnikov (RUS), 5+1+1= 7 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA) - Terry Hutchinson (USA), 1+3+3= 7
3. Artemis (SWE) - Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE), 3+5+2= 10
4. Matador (ARG) - Alberto Roemmers (ARG), 4+2+5= 11
5. Cristabella (GBR) - John Cutler (NZL), 6+4+4= 14
6. Bigamist 7 (POR) - Afonso Domingos (POR), 7+6+6= 19
7. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER) - Jochen Schuemann (GER), 2+10(DSQ)+8= 20
8. Pace (GBR) - Johnny Vincent (GBR), 9+8+7= 24
9. Weapon of Choice (GBR)- Tony Langley (GBR), 8+7+9= 24