Audi Sardinia Cup
The Audi Sardinia Cup fires up tomorrow with six two boat teams doing battle off Porto Cervo.
The line-up is as follows:
USA: Quantum Racing & Iberdrola
Italy: Audi Azzurra Sailing Team & Alegre
Sweden: Rán & Black Pearl
Great Britain: Gladiator & Ngoni
Cayman Islands: Powerplay & Bigamist
Each team comprises a TP52 and a Soto 40, with many the same ascompeted recently at the Trofeo Conde de Godó in Barcelona. However within the TP52 line-up there are some new faces.
With Audi Sailing Team powered by ALL4ONE heading for Kieler Woche, so joining the class for this regatta is Peter Cunningham's Cayman Islands entry, PowerPlay Racing, their Reichel-Pugh design (ex USA-17/Synergy). The PowerPlay team heads for Sardinia with a series of podium finishes to their name, including a second at Key West behind Quantum Racing. Owner-driver Cunningham has a top level grand prix programme run by Tony Rey, including top TP52 names like Hartwell Jordan, Chris Kam with back-up support in Sardinia from navigator Nacho Postigo.
The second team to join the 52 Super Series in Sardinia is the French Paprec team lead by owner Jean-Luc Petithuguenin. To date they have been very successful in their native Breton waters and previously raced at the TP52 World Championship in Palma, but the Paprec team, which contains a proportion of amateur sailors who have sailed for many years with the owners, are ready for this new challenge.
Sailmaker Stephane Neve skippers the boat which was launched in 2007 as Artemis, and updated over the winter. Twins Hugues and Sebastien Destremau steer and call tactics respectively. Recycling company Paprec has a long history in sailing, support their team in the final Admiral’s Cup in 2003 winning the Commodore’s Cup for France in 2006 and also supporting IMOCA 60 skipper Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 3 Vendee Globe campaign.
Five days of racing starts tomorrow, 13 June with two or three windward-leeward races each of the first days before a coastal race on Friday, with two more races scheduled on Saturday and one on Sunday.
Today the teams are competing in a practice race off the Costa Smeralda. The weather outlook promises variety and that can only be good. As well as everything else there is to love about the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the race waters and the attendant winds are well known for providing a range of different conditions over the course of a regatta. This one finishes Sunday after a diet of windward-leeward races and one coastal race Friday.
Adrian Stead, tactician on Ran commented: "We have had a couple of good days training here with Quantum and Azzurra we are pleased with how we have been going. In the breeze we are a little stronger downwind, in the breeze they are a little stronger upwind. We are improving on all fronts, but our goal is mainly trying to be more precise.
"I think we are probably going to have a pretty windy practice race in this Mistral direction. Thursday we will see a bit of a change and then in the latter half of the week we will see SE’ly and E’ly breezes, so it can be a regatta split into two or three sections.
"It will depend which direction the wind has been blowing from and for how long, maybe we see some wind blown current, in the NE we can see it quite. We did the Melges 32 world here and in 2009 the Maxi worlds and both were quite choppy. The good thing about this venue is that every direction brings something a bit different. We tend to think the last regatta was all from the one quadrant, S’ly, really, whereas here you get a big of everything. You have the mountains, the straits and these have a real effect.
"I think we know that PowerPlay is a very strong downwind boat, it was when Oracle had it and since and I think they have done three or four regattas already. I think they will be good. The French are a bit of an unknown quantity but the Destremau brothers are pretty talented sailors, and we will see how they have optimised what was always quite a quick boat. Gladiator is good in the light to medium airs, pretty potent and I am sure the Botin boats have been putting a lot of effort into optimising to be as fast as they can both upwind and downwind, just as we have. We have done a few tweaks for here on what we need to work on.”