Audi Azzurra takes the lead
Cascais revealed perfect racing conditions for the debut of the Soto 40 class in Europe delivering 14-20 knots of northwesterly winds, bright sunshine and a swell rolling down the Portugese coast. Just as the weather and sea state were to order for the exciting one new design fleet, so too they were equally ideal for the second day of racing for the TP52s.
Spain’s Iberdrola Sailing Team fulfilled expectations that the European team who have had their boat longest and trained hardest might prevail, but even though they led at each mark and won back-to-back races, they were never out of reach and the two Portuguese teams which have only had their boats for a matter of days both had second places and were certainly in contention.
In the TP52 class it was again consistency rather than brilliance which won the day, this time the pair of second places for Audi Azzurra Sailing Team was enough to scale the leaderboard to top the seven boat fleet, one point ahead of Germany’s Container.
Over four races there have now been four different winners, as first Bribon and then Quantum Racing both proved the virtue of sharp starting and being able to gain early control of the right, inshore side of the opening beat. Both times the winners were able to extend to win comprehensively in the fresh breezes which presented some brilliantly exciting downwind sailing.
Quantum Racing’s win in the second race was momentarily in jeopardy when two of their ultra-faired stanchions snapped, almost plunging their crew into the water.
Had that happened their 250 metres lead would have very quickly disappeared.
But the crew clung to each other, stayed out of the sea, and the world champions’ first win of 2011 elevates them to third, two points off the lead and one point behind Markus Wieser and the crew of overnight leaders Container.
In the first race, helm Gonzalez Aurajo in concert with Canadian tactician Ross MacDonald did a smart job of winning the committee-boat, right hand end of the start line and they were able to peel away to the right early, capitalising quickly to lead around the windward mark by 19 seconds ahead of Jochen Schuemann’s Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One.
Audi Azzurra Sailing Team were not so good off the line but worked their way up from fifth at the windward mark with a good first run and second beat to take second with Russia’s Synergy Sailing Team in third.
With the breeze stiffening for the second race Quantum Racing won the start at the pin cleanly and were also able to dictate terms to the chasing pack before the first windward mark, new skipper-helm Ed Baird (USA) collecting his first Audi MedCup winning gun.
Vasco Vascotto strategist on new leader Audi Azzurra Sailing Team commented: “The difference between yesterday and today lies in the fact that we sailed a lot better, with a cooler head and a warm heart, a key combination to finish well. We have to keep going like we are so far, trying not to make mistakes like the ones we made in the first races. We have tofind a way to sail clean. We are not always going to be so lucky as we were today, and that means that we have to keep the same attitude that we´ve shown. We had currents, wind, waves… everything that you need to sail and have fun in the boat”.
Ed Baird on Quantum Racing said: “It was a lot of fun, the breeze was up. In the second race we had a little jump at the starting line, enough to sneak out in front of the group near the weather mark. The boys did a tremendous job at the first run. Somehow, we got a puff or two extra from the other guys and that was the end of the race. Perfect conditions for this kind of boats, they go great upwind and downwind. It was tons of fun."
Baird's tactician Adrian Stead added: “It was a good result for us, a good result for Ed and one to give the team some confidence. Really although we were quite early to launch the boat we have ended up behind where we wanted to be because of various different issues. It could have been worse for us when we lost the stanchions, we just managed to save things which was important, but we had a little in hand.”
In the Soto 40 fleet second places were shared equally between the home Portuguese crews as
in the first race and Francesco Lobato’s team on
XXII Portuguese Sailing Team
secured second in the second contest despite finishing with a rip in the lower sections of their gennaker.
Boat handling was key in the Sotos, acknowledged Iberdrola’s skipper helm Jose Maria ‘Pichu’ Torcida, not least gybing the very large gennaker without a pedestal grinder.
The Spanish crew were always slicker than their opposition, but in raw boat speed terms the Soto 40 fleet looks to start on the same page, offering a huge amount of excitement and intensive sailing for a more modest budget.
José María ‘Pichu’ Torcida skipper of Iberdrola said: “We really can't ask for more, we had two great starts and we sailed in the right sides. The key was going downwind, we knew that we couldn´t make any mistakes there. The first race had 18-20 knots and the second one 20-22, so it was key for us not to make mistakes at that speed, that´s why we got such a distance from the rest of the boats. It was easier for us to hold our advantage the second time sailing upwind. It´s a very close competition, we are a bit ahead of the rest handling the boat because we´ve had more practice, but we know that there´s good teams that will improve their performances in the next races. Today was a perfect way to start, a good wind, sunshine and waves. The key for us was in the manoeuvres and there was not much difference between the boats and the racing is close and quite tough. It was a good day for the team.
“I think the manoeuvres and downwind speed, we were very comfortable with the boat. For these type of boats which are very flat, very wide with big kites with twenty knots it was very exciting. We probably only had a couple of days training in these kind of conditions in Valencia, not quite as much wind.
"It is difficult in the gybes because you don’t have a grinder, so we need a lot of coordination between the trimmers and the kite and with the helmsman because it is not difficult to lose the rudder.”
52 Series - Day 2
1.Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 5+1+2+2= 10 points
2. Container (GER), 2+2+4+3 = 11 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA), 3+3+5+1= 12 points
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 1+6+3+4= 14 points
5. Bribón (ESP), 4+7+1+6= 18 points
6. Ràn (SWE), 6+4+6+5= 21 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (EUR), 7+5+7+7= 26 points
8. Gladiator (GBR), DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC=36 points
40 Series - Day 1
1.Iberdrola Team (ESP), 1+1=2
2.XXII Portuguese Sailing Team (POR), 3+2=5
3.Bigamist (POR), 2+4=6
4.Patagonia (ARG), 4+3=7
5.Ngoni (GBR), 5+5=10