Audi TP52s christened
Six new TP52s to three different designs from two different design houses are expected to take to the start line for Tuesday’s first official practice race of the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit season.
And while there may have been any number of informal practice races over recent days off Cascais, where points racing for the Cascais Trophy actually starts Wednesday, and last month’s Palma Vela indicator on Mallorca, but the full 2011 fleet convenes in earnest Tuesday and only then will the first real signs of who is quick, and who is well prepared, actually become evident.
Monday’s spotlight has been directed on the Vrolijk designed twins which will carry the Audi colours over the course of the season, Italy’s Audi Azzurra Sailing Team which will carry the colours of the Yacht Club Costa Smerelda, and the Franco-German Audi Sailing Team powered by ALL4ONE.
Both teams have form on the Audi MedCup Circuit, and in Cascais. Of the two, ahead in terms of preparation seems to be the team led by Guillermo Parada (ARG) featuring the Italian afterguard of Vasco Vascotto and Francesco Bruni and the core of the 2009 World Championship winning Matador crew.
Their boat was built in Valencia at King Marine and Parada has lead a perfectly timed preparation which has included winning the Palma Vela regatta, while four times Olympic medallist Schuemann, skipper-helm and tactician Sebastien Col (FRA), have had only eight days on the water with their new boat which was built at McConaghy in Sydney, Australia in near record time.
Schuemman explained: “Last year we were sailing a ‘rental’ boat and did okay and so it is very exciting to be here with a brand new boat of our own in a fleet of six new boats, so having got this great boat – which is a sistership to the other Audi boat – it is a boat which should allow us to fulfil our expectations. Now it will be up to us, up to the sailors. It is a very powerful boat which we think will be good in the slightly stronger breeze.”
But he warns: "All the teams are in the same situation. The bigger challenge as well as having the technology ready is to have the teamwork, but to orchestrate the whole team to a new level, striving for perfection you just cannot have enough time to do that. At the moment there is more work done to the be done to boat than you actually have been able to sail. So I hope we don’t see too difficult conditions here which would make it easier to hide crew problems, but I think all the teams are in the same situation and all the way though to the fifth event, everyone going forward will be in better shape than today.”
Born in different hemispheres but the two are all but identical: they were nose to nose on the dock, in the middle of the Cascais regatta village of the Cascais Trophy for a glittering champagne launch and naming ceremony. Wednesday they go head to head as adversaries.
French Hollywood actor Jean Reno and German model, singer and actress Eva Padberg joined to launch Audi Sailing Team powered by ALL4ONE, while the YCCS’s first TP52 was named by Princess Zahara Aga Kahn.
Stephane Kandler (CEO Audi Sailing Team powered by ALL4ONE) introduced Jean Reno and Eva Padberg: “Our team was only born two years ago when we sat down with Jochen Schuemann when we decided to start a French-German team, just as we have an alliance building planes, we decided to do it in sport. So we are very proud to be here today with a new boat. Last year we had the Audi A1 Team, and so last year in November we talked with Audi to make a three years programme to show that Audi Sailing Team is a strong team as we have here. We are very proud to fly the colours of Audi. Jean Reno was with us last year but Eva Padberg is here for the first time and we hope that together they will bring us the luck we need. And we don’t hide the fact we are here to be competitive on this challenging Circuit, and to hopefully win.”
And Riccardo Bonadeo (ITA) (Commodore YCCS), representing Audi Azzurra Sailing Team introduced Princess Zahra Aga Kahn: “I would like to thank the people who allow us to keep alive the symbols of this club, to Mr Alberto Roemmers who is the owner of the boat who can’t be here this time, he is a very good friend and very influential member of the club, and second of course to Lothar Korn and Michael Frisch (Audi Italy) without them and the support of Audi we could not be here.”
Vasco Vascotto (ITA) strategist Audi Azzurra Sailing Team: “Unfortunately there is never enough time. It is like preparing for a school examination, you can never have enough time preparing. You feel like you are never prepared enough. But I think Guillermo has done a great job, we have been able to train more days than some of the others to have the boat better prepared than some of the others. But other factors are so important, to make good starts and get the first wind shift, but from the point of view of the preparation of the boat we are really pleased with how it has gone.
The schedule to put the boat in the water in Valencia, to do one week of sailing in Palma, I think there has been a great a job by the shore team to be always on time, on target.”
Guillermo Parada commented: “It is a process of continuous development through the season, some teams will be going up, some will be going down. Sometimes you are making progress and going in the right direction. For us Palma was important because we were able to test things and try things. We had two different goals, to test the boat but to learn as much as we could. And so on some days we were trying things which were not necessarily good for the day’s race but winning was the bonus on top of that.
“So far everything is going well. We are satisfied with the results and measurements that we´ve obtained, we see that the boat has a great potential to be developed. We are confident about what we are capable of doing in the future.The truth is that we don´t talk about results before the regatta, because the goal for the year is always the same: to sail well. That´s what we want to do, if we sail well as a team, as a group, we know that with this boat we have a tool to win regattas. It all depends on us being able to reach the goals that we are focusing on, to sail as best as possible and to learn a bit about the boat everyday. We are convinced that there´s not a single thing that makes you win or lose. Teamwork is what´s important for us. Tipically, when you sail well, the results will come.
“Our crew´s chemistry is an advantage and our boat´s biggest strenght. We have the exact same crew as last year and some of us have been sailing together for 15 years, so we know each other really well."
Jochen Schuemann added: “All the teams are in the same situation. The bigger challenge as well as having the technology ready is to have the teamwork, but to orchestrate the whole team to a new level, striving for perfection you just cannot have enough time to do that. At the moment there is more work done to the be done to boat than you actually have been able to sail. So I hope we don’t see too difficult conditions here which would make it easier to hide crew problems, but I think all the teams are in the same situation and all the way though to the fifth event, everyone going forward will be in better shape than today.”
With a new weather system passing through this afternoon today’s final informal day of practice for the TP52s came to little when the winds faded away early afternoon, and most of the teams returned to shore early.
Lining up Tuesday are expected to be the two Audi backed sisterships which were named today, the other Vrolijk designed ‘sisters’ which are developments of the 2009 Matador, the owner driven Ràn of Niklas and Catherine Zennstrom (SWE) who makes their debut on the Audi MedCup Circuit as does the German Container crew lead by Markus Wieser (GER). The new Quantum Racing (USA) which is skippered by America’s Cup winner Ed Baird (USA) is a Botin Partners sister to the Russian Synergy Sailing Team’s new Synergy both built at Longitud Zero near Castellon in Spain.