Nico Martinez / Audi MedCup

First TP52 win for Ran

Niklas Zennstrom claims Audi MedCup Portugal Trophy coastal race

Saturday May 21st 2011, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Portugal

While Niklas and Catherine Zennstrom and the crew of Ràn, newcomers to the Audi MedCup Circuit this season, scored their first win from today’s 38.5 miles coastal race which carries the 1.5 points bounty, second place for Quantum Racing ensures the TP52 world champions enter the final day of the Cascais Trophy with a lead of 5.5 points over Audi Azzurra Sailing Team.

And as the 40 Series fleet approach their final day of their first regatta in Europe a win in the close, exacting second race which was contested closer inshore, over a shorter more tactical course, keeps the Spanish crew of Iberdrola Team in the driving seat with a lead of six points after six of eight planned races.

Zennstrom’s crew with Gavin Brady calling tactics and Steve Hayles as navigator, sailed an impeccable, relatively trouble free race, leading at every mark of the track which took the fleet out to Cabo Raso to the west of Cascais – where the winds peaked at 22 knots – down river towards Lisbon where the breeze dropped to a much more gentle 12kts with a strong current to contend with.

While their success was in the simplicity of their clean sailing, keeping out of trouble ahead of the chasing pack, comebacks of different magnitudes were required for second placed Quantum Racing and third placed Audi Azzurra Sailing Team.

For Quantum Racing that was fighting back from being slightly out of phase when the pressure proved to be offshore, to the left of the first short beat, but for Vasco Vascotto, Francesco Bruni and the crew of Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, fouling Synergy Sailing Team on the long beat to Cabo Raso – not completing their tack in time – required a penalty which meant they rounded the most westerly turn of the course in last place with a deficit of 1 minute and 34 seconds.

But to their credit, according to Vascotto they stuck to the game plan, worked furthest offshore on the long run back, picking up some stunning surfs in the brisk conditions, to pass the mid-race mark in fourth, just 16 seconds off third placed Synergy Russian Sailing Team. Their atonement was completed when they overhauled the Russians on the penultimate leg.

And while America’s Cup winning helm Ed Baird and the Quantum Racing crew did their best to bounce the Italian-flagged boat right and offer Synergy an opening, this ensuring a one boat buffer between them and their nearest rivals for the overall, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team kept their cool and, as Vascotto put it later, are ‘still alive’.

While the top four were those who kept their attack on the rails in the stiff conditions, the so-far consistent Container ripped their preferred heavy airs downwind spinnaker from luff to leech and were relegated to today’s second division as a consequence, so too Bríbon slumped back on this downwind handicapped also by a spinnaker tear.

“It was just great downwind sailing, I mean phenomenal downwind sailing!” smiled Adrian Stead, Quantum Racing’s tactician, “….just great fun, completely full on and it just adds to it, seeing kites blowing up around you, and people struggling.”

Race winner Niklas Zennström said: “We are very pleased because we´ve had very bad days before. We took a good breath yesterday, we went back to basics and it helped us to get our confident back. It was a nice race, we wanted to have a good start and we did. We sailed very well upwind and going downwind was also a lot of fun, but at the second mark Quantum nearly got to us. We handled the boat well and managed to stay away from them. We´ve made so many mistakes this week that it was time for us not to make any, and we almost achieved that goal. It was important to get our first win, it boosts our confidence. Now we can put our first Audi MedCup victory behind and try to get a few more in the future."

Afonso Domingos, Inaki Castaner and the Bigamist crew won the first, boisterous Soto 40 race with a 50 seconds lead over their compatriots on XXII Portuguese Sailing Team, while the Spanish team finished third.

“The first race was great, with great conditions as usual in Cascais, lots of wind and big waves…" reported Domingos. "Just after the start we gained speed and after a while being second we managed to lead the race. We´ve gone great upwind, which helped us stay on top for so long. The tactic job by Hugo Rocha has helped us a lot; we saw that Iberdrola was getting closer, but kept sailing well and got a victory. The second one didn´t go well, we were in a tight pack and we couldn´t sail the way we should´ve had”.

But the second heat of the day showed a different side of the adaptable Soto 40s as they raced on their own laid course with a windward mark just off the Cascais Marina entrance. With the wind shifting and puffing up and down, blowing off the town, a thrilling five way tussle saw Iberdrola prevail, holding a slender lead over XXII, while Ngoni stole a third place on the final beat.

Results - Cascais Trophy

52 Series overall standings after 7 races

1-Quantum (USA) 3+3+5+1+1+1+3 = 17 points
2-Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA) 5+1+2+2+6+2+4,5 = 22,5 points
3-Container (GER) 2+2+4+3+3+3+7,5 = 24,5 points
4-Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) 1+6+3+4+4+6+6 = 30 points
5-Ràn (SUE) 6+4+6+5+7+5+1,5 = 34,5 points
6-Bribon (ESP) 4+7+1+6+2+7+10,5 = 37,5 points
7-Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One (EUR) 7+5+7+7+5+4+9 = 44 points
8-Gladiator (GBR) DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC+DNC = 67,5 points

40 Series overall standings after 6 races

1-Iberdrola (ESP) 1+1+2+2+3+1 = 10 points
2-Bigamist (POR) 2+4+3+1+1+5 = 16 points
3-XXII Portuguese Sailing Team (POR) 3+2+4+3+2+2 = 16 points
4-Patagonia (ARG) 4+3+1+4+5+4 = 21 points
5-Ngoni (GBR) 5+5+5+DNF+4+3 = 28 points


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