Audi All4One into the driver's seat
Jochen Schuemann, Sebastien Col and the crew of Audi Sailing Team powered by ALL4One exorcised some of their early season ghosts today with a pair of solid, well earned third places to seize the overall lead of the TP52 class at the Region of Sardinia Trophy.
Audi Sailing Team's first regatta in Cascais with their new Vrolijk design - the more radical and powerful design of the two pairs of sisterships - was plagued by early boat speed problems, but today the Franco-German team seemed to have improved, finishing the second day of racing with a lead of three points over Markus Wieser and the team on Container who dropped to second today.
Jochen Schuemann commented: “I would say this is us back to normal, I hope. We always believed that we had not mis-learned sailing completely after all the mistakes that we had made, and did not do sail well as we should have. The result of today is not because we sailed brilliantly, but we took advantage of the mistakes of others. There are certainly small differences in the way we sail the boat, our boat is very wide and very powerful, you need to load it has hard and early as possible and still create the same heel as other boats, which the boat does not want to do because it is stiffer. We are trimming harder and adapting the heel. We are by far not the leading boat for speed, I think Quantum Racing, Container and the Russians are the fastest boats out. We are going better and have recut all our spinnaker inventory because we had problems downwind and that used to be a strength of ours, so last year we were probably one of the fastest downwind boats. We are much better than we were in Cascais, but still very average. And it is hard when you are only average everywhere to win races. We are not youngsters so we are not overrating being at the top of the leaderboard, but it is good for everyone at home, our friends, families and sponsors will like it but it is only after two days, and we are all aware there is a long way to go.”
Trimmer Thierry Fouchier added: "We've managed to improve our downwind speed. The differences between boats are minimal and the mark roundings are very interesting. It's easier for us here because we understand better this race area than the one of Marseille. The boat is very powerful and we've finally found the key points to sail it well. These results are very encouraging for what remains of the season, and we are in good spirit."
If today underlined the marked improvement of the Franco-German team, which shared the early lead here in Cagliari last year and finished second overall in this regatta, so too there was clear evidence that yesterday’s 6,6 by the world champions Quantum Racing was but a bump on the road for the circuit leaders. Ed Baird steered the green and black Botin Partners design to a second in the first race, behind Russia’s Synergy Team, and then a good victory in the second heat of the day to elevate themselves to third on the regatta standings.
And even the Russian team were on the bounce back. Their favourable opening was ruined yesterday by a finish line aberration which cost them a possible third but ended with a penalty. Unleashing their excellent boat speed upwind in the 13-16kts Mistral direction breeze, from a good start the Synergy team lead from the windward mark.
The reversal of fortunes in the first race was that of Markus Wieser’s Container team. They could not get back into the race after a poor first beat and finished seventh.
The offshore breeze picked up slightly for the second race of the day and Quantum Racing’s tactician Adrian Stead was able to stay on top of the big shift in wind direction which spread from the left side of the race track.
Stead commented: “Yesterday we were not as precise as we should've been, with my strategy and a few things on the boat. We had very two good starts, the boat was lined up very well and we executed things very well. I'm really pleased with how we got back into it today, it went quite well. We didn't talk much about yesterday before the race, just a small headstay issue that we had to fix, that's why we went out there early, to check it, so it was in the right place. It was a complete different day, I'm happy with how we sailed downwind today.”
The split in the breeze was read smartly by Ross MacDonald on Bribón, allowing the Spanish boat a sudden jump to second at the second windward turn, sliding inside the jostling pack at the turning buoy, they were able to hold on to a useful second place.
After four races Audi Sailing Team powered by ALL4One lead the regatta by three points, while only four points separates second placed Container from sixth placed Bribón.
The Soto 40 class enjoyed excellent racing too in the brisk conditions which were slightly down the scale from yesterday’s rumbustuous opener. The dominant Spanish Iberdrola team finished both races in the lead, although Britain’s Tony Buckingham and the Ngoni crew led through much of the second race.
José Mariá Torcida, Skipper of Iberdrola Team said: “Great start for us, there´s not a lot more we can ask for today. The key has been how we sailed downwind, where we did quite well. The first start went well and the second one not as good. In this last one we sailed leeward with the group, but a couple shifts and a couple gybes got us first. After that we were able to control the race and finish in that position. We are satisfied with our speed downwind in good wind conditions. Noticia IV is the team that we are going to have to fight right now. We know that they´ve sailed less that we had, and they are catching up. They are the team to beat for us here”.
Region of Sardinia Trophy - TP52s - results after four races:
1. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (EUR), 4+1+3+3=11 points
2. Container (GER), 1+2+7+4=14 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA), 6+6+2+1=15 points
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 3+7+1+5=16 points
5. RÁN (SUE), 2+5+4+6=17 points
6. Bribón (ESP), 7+4+5+2=18 points
7. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 5+3+6+7=21 points
8. Gladiator (GBR), 9(DNC)+9(DNC)+9(DNC)+9(DNC)=36 points
Soto 40s - results after two races:
1. Iberdrola Team (ESP), 1+1=2 points
2. Noticia IV (ESP), 2+2=4 points
3. Ngoni (GBR), 3+3=6 points
4. XXII Sardegna (IT), 4+4=8 points
5. Patagonia (ARG), 6(DNC)+6(DNC)=12 points
From Nico Martinez
By Ian Roman/Audi MedCup