Saturday, 20 October 2007

RC44s, Trieste Cup, Italy

RC44 start with IRL12, Team Omega, in the foreground

Russell Coutts, tactician on Team Omega

Team Aqua, with owner/driver Chris Bake, and tactician Cameron Appleton, winners of the RC44 Trieste Cup 2007

Team Ceeref, with owner/driver Igor Lah, and James Spithill as tactician, second overall at the RC44 Trieste Cup

RC44 start

RC44s in Trieste

High resolution images available from

Monday, 8 October 2007

Some 'normal' TP52s...

Take a look...

Close finish: Mean Machine Valle Romano just gets ahead of Patches, with Artemis close behind

CxG Corporacion Caixa Galicia surfing

CxG Corporacion Caixa Galicia on the wind

Mean Machine Valle Romano turns downwind

Patches follows downwind

Mean Machine Valle Romano on an offset leg at the top of the windward/leeward course

TPs head downwind

Artemis takes off

Artemis plunges into a wave upwind

Breitling MedCup 2007 TP52s

High resolution images are available from

Team New Zealand Band to go On Tour

by Anne Hinton

Team New Zealand afterguard member and bass guitar player, Ray Davies revealed recently that the Team New Zealand band wants to go and tour Northland, the region of New Zealand north of Auckland, when the sailors return home. “We want to play in a few of the pubs around Northland”, said Ray.

“We’ll play a few songs that people can sing along to; a few good old Kiwi songs, U2, and so on. I’m not very good, though”, said Ray, modestly. “Trae’s a natural [lead singer Tony Rae]. Trae’s family is quite musical. Mine aren’t at all! Trae’s a very good singer. The band’s a lot of fun.” See a profile of Ray Davies in Boating New Zealand this month for a background to his sailing and music playing.

Sailing journalist turned music critic, Tim Jeffery gave the band quite a write-up in Valencia, commenting that Trae has “a hell of a voice”. The Team New Zealand band performances should be well worth going along to.

However, the timing of the tour is still up in the air. “I’m not sure when we’re going to fit it in”, said Trae. Many of the Team New Zealand sailors are tied up with sailing and family commitments. Some have just finished sailing on the European TP52 circuit, others are on to the RC44s this week, and several will be sailing Farr 40s in Florida next month. While the sailing is in full swing, the band members practice informally, jamming on acoustic guitars.

Trae and guitar in France

Note: The band is not an official part of Team New Zealand. It is organised on an ad hoc basis by team members themselves.

What you didn't hear about the Breitling MedCup TP52s...

by SailRaceWin

Level on points going into the final event, the Hyères Trophée, Artemis, owned and driven by Torbjörn Tornqvist, with Russell Coutts as tactician, and CxG Corporación Caixa Galicia, owned by Vicente Tirado, with John Kostecki calling the shots, were keeping a close eye on each other throughout the event.

Artemis pulled the most punches, from the start of the first race onwards. In a private match race within the fleet racing proper, Artemis covered Caixa Galicia fairly closely up the beats, and extended a little downwind. Racing was over two laps of a windward/leeward course, with the exception of a double-point scoring coastal 'round the islands' race on the penultimate day.

In race two, Caixa Galicia pulled a fake gybe, sending Artemis off to the right (looking upwind). However, Artemis was still well ahead at the leeward gate. The left being favoured, both boats picked the lefthand mark to round at the leeward gate. In the interests of slowing her rival down, Artemis hung on the rounding, parallel to the wind, with her bow at the mark, for just long enough to ensure that Caixa Galicia had to make a long and ungainly rounding, sailing wide around both the full length of Artemis and the mark. One up to Coutts!

The diagram shows a very rough sketch of the leeward gate situation.

And so it went on all week. Artemis gradually extended her lead, enjoying the stronger breezes more than her rival, but also winning the light airs, double-point scoring, coastal race, to have a comfortable point margin going into the final day’s racing. Relaxing her guard somewhat on the final day, she finished 8 points clear of Caixa Galicia overall.

At the end of the regatta, the Mean Machine Valle Romano crew kept their record of winning the final race at every venue in the 2007 Breitling MedCup. Approaching the windward mark for the first time, with CxG Corporacion Caixa Galicia to weather of Mean Machine Valle Romano, Cristabella tacked and tucked in beneath Mean Machine Valle Romano to leeward.

Mean Machine Valle Romano put the squeeze on Caixa Galicia, forcing them to fall back, while, themselves, rounding the windward mark outside Cristabella.

After another lap of the windward/leeward course Mean Machine Valle Romano had established themselves in the lead, ahead of Caixa Galicia, and extended slightly downwind to cross the line first.

Coming into harbour rather later than her rivals after the final race, Artemis was greeted by applause from the whole fleet, in a gesture of good sportsmanship. The team then relaxed with beers onboard, before the official dockside handover of champagne.

The champagne was initially sprayed on owner/driver Tornqvist, who then turned on the photographers with a bottle himself!

The cameras did not record that, after a “debate” amongst the crew on the foredeck, several members of the Artemis team took (fairly elegant) dives into the briny. The basis for the decision as to who got wet and who didn’t is not known at time of writing...

Neighbours of the Kiwi/international, Swedish-registered, Artemis crew, the Dutch/Kiwi/international team on Mean Machine Valle Romano, who had won the MedCup in 2006, applauded Artemis again at the dockside ceremony.

Many members of Team New Zealand – past and present – were on both crews. However, the Dutch origins of Peter de Ridder’s Spanish-sponsored, Monacan-registered, Mean Machine Valle Romano team are clearly to be seen in the green bottles that many members of the team are holding in the team photo below.

The Mean Machine Valle Romano team was chasing boatspeed this year, as the 2007 TPs are definitely quicker. Most developments in the TP52s have been with the design and construction of the boats themselves. The December 2007 issue of Australian Sailing will carry a fuller account of this.

TP52 Mean Machine Valle Romano as you have never seen her before!

I bet you never knew that TP52s had really bendy masts and hulls – and I mean REALLY bendy – did you?!

The images show Mean Machine Valle Romano in action at the 2007 Breitling MedCup Hyères Trophée...

Peter de Ridder sails the 'bubble' that is Mean Machine Valle Romano

What happens when a big cat goes fishing…

by SailRaceWin

Mike Slade’s maxi, ICAP Leopard 3, ‘caught’ a shark on her way to the Fastnet Rock in this year’s Fastnet Race, from Cowes (England) to the Fastnet Rock (off southwest Ireland) and back to Plymouth (southwest England). Hungry for victory, and keeping her crew in good spirits with hot, fresh, food from a microwave and toasted sandwich maker (the latter described by one of the team as “one of the best features I’ve seen on an offshore boat for a long time”), Leopard clearly decided that the menu should be spiced up yet further with shark’s fin soup... or that’s one way of looking at it!

A shark got itself wrapped around the rudder. “It created a huge cavitation effect”, said Ray Davies, who was one of the helmsmen on Leopard. “We had to do a backdown and we lost a lot of time.”

The team initially tried swinging the canting keel and moving dagger boards up and down to free the beast. Moving everything at once resulted in blowing a hose in the hydraulics, which took half an hour to fix. Had it not been for this, Leopard would undoubtedly have been first at the Rock, rather than three seconds behind Rambler.

A brave Aussie, Hawk (Adam Hawkins), dove overboard to free the beast. Davies reckons that the shark was about five and a half feet long. With everyone interested in looking at the very dead shark, Leopard was beginning to get under way again before Hawk had climbed back up her high-sided hull. His bravery was nearly rewarded with a rather longer swim in the Irish Sea than he had reckoned!

In the end, despite the unscheduled stop, making a record time for the Fastnet Race of 44 hours, 18 minutes and 53 seconds, gave a well deserved line honours victory to the crew of Leopard.

Fastnet Race 2007

A proto-TP 52 excels in the Transpac

by SailRaceWin

The Transpac race in July, from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Hawaii, had several TP52 entries, two of which, Morning Light and Samba Pa Ti, spent much of their time match racing each other across the Pacific. However, the winning TP52, Samba Pa Ti, was only about 8 minutes ahead of a forerunner to the TP52 class, Pendragon IV, on corrected time.

California-based Kiwi Scott Dickson, youngest brother of Chris, and winner for the umpteenth time this year of the Ficker Cup match racing in California, helped to organise the crew and sailed on Pendragon IV for the Transpac. Pendragon IV is a Laurie Davidson design, without many of the features of modern TP52s, but was a prototype for the box rule class. Pendragon IV finished second in her class on corrected time; a very creditable performance.

Dean Barker was one of the Kiwi and international crew on Disney’s canting keel 94 footer, Pyewacket, which took overall line honours in the 2007 edition of the Transpac. What did he think of the sail on Pyewacket, at up to 28 knots? "I REALLY enjoyed that!", said Dean.

Well done to both teams!

Transpac 2007

Friday, 7 September 2007

America's Cup teams look to the TP52 MedCup circuit

by Event Media

The MedCup Circuit´s Technical Director, Nacho Postigo, sat down in one of his rare quiet moments during the Portugal Trophy in Portimao and provided an insight into how he sees the 2007 season so far, and his vision for the future. Where is the Breitling MedCup Circuit going? What has worked this season? Are we making progress towards a stand alone F1 Grand Prix circuit? Is that the vision?

First up, Postigo concludes that wind, as we had at the beginning of Portimao, has not been such a rarity this season, although it has tended more to the extremes:

"We have not had that many races with just ten knots of wind. I can remember one windier day at Breitling Regatta, one day at Copa del Rey and in Alicante when we have not seen very "Med" conditions.

"The truth is that we had some stronger winds in Alicante, in Copa del Rey, in Breitling. The coastal race in Alicante we had 20 knots. We did two windward leewards with light winds but then we had wind. We missed a day because it was too light, but really this season we have not had so much of what you would call ´typical Med conditions´ of around eight knots of wind."

He considers the overall view of how the circuit has stepped up another level this season, and reinforces the news that several America's Cup teams are now expected to field TP52's on next season's MedCup Circuit, including Larry Ellison:

"This season you can see in different areas that the racing teams have seen more professionalism and a higher level. There are more and more teams with a chance to win. More and more big names, more and more people coming into the circuit from the America's Cup since 2005. I think that next year, in that direction, the circuit wll be even stronger, because America's Cup will not give many chances for racing and practising. So it will be a good way to build an America's Cup team, getting one or maybe two TP52's. I would expect this to happen, for sure. If I were running an America's Cup team and couldn't do two boat testing, couldn't do many things then I would spend my time on the match racing circuit and doing TP52 racing.

"With Mascalzone we were immediately considering the options, and straight away it was like 'you cannot do this, you cannot do that´, so you look at doing the world match racing tour and the MedCup. Then you have one developing match race skills and you keep your speed development skills up."

And the TP52 box rule is keeping designs tight year on year?

"Truthfully you don't see huge changes in design this year. The box rule is really quite tight and so you don't see big changes in design and the fact that the box rule is quite tight can be proved by the likes of Balearia which is a 2005 boat which has done well, been ahead of the fleet and scored good points. But at the end, in the first event it was a mix of new boats and older boats, in the top six, seven boats but the more the season goes on, the more new boats emerge at the top again. The crews with the new designs are usually the better ones and rise to the top.

"In Portimao we saw a great show from Mean Machine with a two year old boat. And at the beginning of the season everyone was saying that it was not very competitive, and the new boats are much faster, but in Portimao we saw Mean Machine sailing around at the front of the fleet, so I think the evolution is not that dramatic. It depends much more on how the crews are sailing."

"And that, of course that is good for the value of the boats."

"I wish we could do more to help owners move on second hand boats and get more owners into the circuit with these boats, but it is not easy. I don't think we will see fleets build independently of the circuit in the Med at the moment. I think the boats are good under IRC and will continue to go that way. But they are good for any kind of offshore racing, for the Middle Sea Race, the Giraglia, despite the fact that people think they have become too much of inshore boats but that is something that you can fix. You can have systems going on the deck and making the boat more seaworthy, for example. Structurally the boats are good, and they are strong and can sail. Probably not for long upwind in 40 knots of wind, but apart from that they are good for anything else.

" I think we will see people start to buy boats to do the other events now, though. Copa del Rey will not be part of the circuit, the Trofeo de Reina, or maybe Sardinia Cup, to give it a run and see how they like it, before moving on to the circuit, seeing first how the other teams and they are doing, maybe chartering the boat.

" We are having more and more Formula 1 style hospitality. I don't think it has worked so well this season yet, simply because it is a new thing, but we have proven that the infrastructure is there. We have faith that it will work and it is important for the way that the sponsors work. That is the way it will go in the future, it a very good idea. And we tried Virtual Spectator this year which is another way of helping understand the racing, for the people in the VIP hospitality areas, and the VIP and hospitality boats as well as on the internet. These are the things that we have to develop.

"More and more we follow some of the evolution that America's Cup has defined. That is good with regards to the event.

"On the water I don't think we need to change too much. We are happy with the events. Even the types and number of races we are generally happy with.

"I liked very much the venues where we have brought the circuit into the cities like, Alicante - it worked there. We organised, for example, poster signing with Vasco (Vascotto) and though maybe some people did not know who he was, there was long queues at 6pm. Many did not know who Vasco was, what the MedCup circuit was, or what sailing really is, but there was a long queue and a great atmosphere. And that has to be developed for next year. The sponsored boats need to do much more promotional activities to build their profile next year.

"Palma was very good in that respect but we have a little bit of an issue with security. It was rather like Fort Knox in the end, which was not so good as people were a bit scared, or put off getting close to the boats. The concept is right, though, putting the boats in the middle of the city.

"Portals was very, very good. As the Royal Family had just arrived in Mallorca for the summer all the tourists came. The place has lots of glamour and it is always busy, and we had some good hospitality for the guests.

"Portimao has been the perfect combination between good racing, good onshore events and good hospitality. Even if you said there was not many people around, you would be surprised at the quality albeit they were low profile.

"I hope that we will see the circuit moving towards grand prix, but we will also a very national involvement, but it is pretty much going in that direction and that is what we have been trying to do since Day One. Trying to do for our sport, what other sports are doing. Bringing it to a formula that is understandable to the public, they know that we are coming from a previous event, they know that there is an overall leader, there is a winner from the last event, the first boat going around the windward mark is leading and the first boat across the finish line wins.

"Things have developed over our expectations in terms of the number and quality of boats. Onshore we were never expected, when we started with this is 2004, to see such a ´circus´.

"The whole thing though is not something that you just build in two days. The more the you have this set up well, the easier it will be to bring politicians, and sponsors, people coming here and seeing what this is and understanding it. It is also a question of budget. In the America's Cup the budgets are 300 or 30,000 times what we have here.

"I think that is the way we are going.

"In three to five years I hope to see better TV coverage, easier to follow for VIPs,virtual viewing, a great atmosphere and stability among the fleet and the same high quality racing. We will always lose and gain some boats but a fleet of 20-25 boats is ideal. It really is as much as is manageable in the harbours and cities we visit and it is would be quite hard to find harbours in the Mediterranean for 30 of these boats - but I would not mind to have that problem!

"Viewing it from the perspective of the professional sailor, knowing there is a circuit every year and you are going to be able to find a team and that you have 50-60 days of sailing every year is a great thing. And that is what I would like to achieve, consistency and stability every year. Same profile, same level, same good people involved."

And the arrival of America's Cup teams in full force? Will that put existing owners off:

"I hope it will not put people off. They are going to feel a little bit like 'mmm'. The problem is that you can spend double what the other guys are spending, but the benefits that you do get are very, very small. You can only build 25 sails. Maybe you could build 50 and choose the best 25 but is there going to be a significant huge difference between a good light genoa, say, and the next light genoa?

"Remember that last year we saw some teams who have spent lots of money and did not do so well, and I am thinking about Atalanti Lexus, and Pinta where they had a huge onshore infrastructure. It was rumoured that Pinta had up to 50 people working on the team and the results were not good. So, as we are saying, you can spend as much money as you want, but it is not going to guarantee you the result.

"People this year are probably not spending less, but they are spending in a different way. There are not teams moving 50 people around with a sail loft, and things like that. That is not happening. There is a natural ceiling, if you like. We have seen boats with ideas, and we have seen one boat with a SailVision system. The question is do we have the time when we sail these boats to really develop and benefit from these kind of tools or is it a waste of money?"

Breitling MedCup 2007

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: Alfa Romeo takes first honours, Wild Oats XI dismasted

by Event Media and SailRaceWin

The 18th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, has 38 yachts from 11 countries participating, representing the spectrum of three-quarters of a century of monohull yacht design - maxi style. For 2007, the fleet of colossus congregated in the Marina Nuova will be divided into 4 divisions for a week of competition over a mixture of windward/leeward, coastal and island courses.

In the pressurized surroundings of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Racing Division there is no room on the yachts for the less than alert. On racing maxis, the crews have to be athletic and nimble, and no more so than on the two near sisterships from Australasia - Bob Oatley's Wild Oats (AUS) and Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo (NZL). Both from the drawing board of Reichel-Pugh and launched in 2005, they represent the very latest in racing yacht design and technology. Entirely of carbon-fibre, sporting canting keels, water-ballast and both built by McConaghy yachts in Australia these yachts are at the forefront of the racing supermaxi world. Cutting edges that few others would dare to dream about, these 30-metre greyhounds that weigh in at a mere 26 tonnes are accustomed to sailing their own race at the head of the fleet.

Elsewhere in the Racing Division may be found the 76-foot Titan XII from the USA. More usually witnessed dominating the racing stage in the Caribbean and eastern seaboard of the USA, this is her first sortie into European waters and what a stage to make a debut. Up against Titan XII is George David's 90-foot Rambler (USA). Formerly owned by Neville Crichton, she was launched in 2002 before canting keels became 'de rigueur' on yachts of this size. Rambler recently proved that 'old technology' is not necessarily 'bad technology' finishing second on the water in the 608 mile Rolex Fastnet Race only 45 minutes behind Leopard 3, the latest 30-metre canting-keeler to be launched.

Hasso Plattner's 87-foot Morning Glory (GER) is no slouch either - a maxZ86 - when she was launched in 2003 she heralded a new era in supermaxi design. Despite being superseded in size, by the likes of Oats & Alfa, last year she kept pace with another 100-footer (Maximus) over the 607-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race course. And, whilst they may have little prospect of winning the race for real time victory, Roel Pieper's Swan 80 Favonius (NED) and Stephen Ainsworth's 66-foot Loki (AUS) are extremely well sailed and should not be discounted in the battle for handicap honours where, lest it be forgotten in the dash to be home first, the overall trophies are decided.

The Cruising Division boasts ten yachts and provides a cross-reference of design, style and technology. Velsheda (USA) and Ranger (USA) are from the 1930s school - the J-Class. The mere mention of these names is enough to send shivers down the spine of yacht-racing cognoscenti. The Velsheda sailing today is the product of a rebuild conducted at Southampton Yacht Services in 1997, whilst Ranger is a 'new-build', a replica of the successful Cup Defender from 1937, she was built and launched in 2003, by Danish Yachts. The original Ranger was launched too late to meet Velsheda when she was in her pomp and one of the most feared yachts in the world. Now, though, these iterations meet regularly on the circuit and readily invoke images of the glory days of yacht racing even with their simplified, yet still massive, sail plans. At the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup expect some spectacular contests between these two 40-metre 'cruising' yachts.

Just over 50 years ago, in 1954, the 35-metre Aschanti IV was launched by Burmester and how the world has changed since that time. Racing in the Cruising Division, Aschanti IV represents the antithesis of modern yacht design - all beautiful lines, gleaming varnish and polished brasswork. A rebuild in 1994 has done nothing to lessen the charm of this supreme classic, which has won 'most photogenic yacht awards' at Antigua Classic Week on more than one occasion. Under sail, the sense of power is undoubtedly just as immense as onboard a lightweight racer, albeit in a wholly different way. Aschanti IV will have her work cut out to gain revenge on Heitaros, a winner her last year. Launched in 1993 - a full forty years after Aschanti - Heitaros was designed by Bruce King and built by Abeking and Rasmussen. She too is unashamedly about traditional values and luxury under sail. Last year she proved that she is well sailed too, winning her Division with three wins in five races.

The modern end of the cruising stable features Arne Glimcher's Ghost (USA) and Vittorio Moretti's Viriella (ITA), both returning for another tilt at overall honours in this usually competitive class. They are joined in the 34-metre plus bracket by Francis Rooney's Perini-Navi, Gitana (USA). Small is a relative term in this gathering of maxis, but Aglaya (ITA) and H2O (ITA) are both under 30-metres. Read nothing into this though when looking for a possible winner on handicap.

The largest yacht at the event is Salperton; launched this year she is probably the newest too. At 44-metres (145-feet) this Ed Dubois design is twice the length of some the yachts here and, at 207 tonnes, is more than 10 times the displacement of lightweight flier such as Titan XII.

The Mini Maxi Division is the largest class of the fleet, comprising 13 yachts ranging from the 18-metre Out of Reach (MON) and Carige (ITA) up to the 23.9-metre Ikaika (SMR). Even this Division features a spread of design style and technology. Annagine (NED) designed by Gerry Dijkstra - who oversaw the refit of Velsheda - and launched in 2004 is a modern classic exuding elegance and a bygone era with beautifully polished brightwork. Her lines are perhaps misleading because whilst she was designed to be comfortable, part of the brief was to make her fast too. By contrast, Carlo Puri Negri's Atalanta II - overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2005 - is from the modern school.

Day One – Alfa Romeo wins the Down Under ‘match race’

All four divisions started on time in 10-12 knots of westerly and a gentle sea state. The course took the crews straight into 'Bomb Alley' at Capo Ferro and gave them a long beat up to the turning mark - the Island of Spargi, which the yachts rounded to starboard. From there it was a long run back to the finish off Porto Cervo. Gybe reaching all the way home in 20 - 22 knots, the fleet set a spectacular scene for the onlookers on the water and shore. There can be few better sights than following a maxi at full pelt downwind - if you can keep up.

In the Racing Division, the expected head to head between Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo (NZL) and Bob Oatley's Wild Oats (AUS) let no one down. Stuck together for much of the race in a primeval match-race with their carbon black sails glinting in the sunshine, first blood on the water went to the slightly lower rated Alfa, which finished 30 seconds ahead of her rival. The key moment came one minute before the start when Oats apparently suffered an engine failure and was unable to power up the hydraulics. Whilst the Oats' crew was occupied sorting out the problem, Alfa was free to choose their favoured end of the line and take the opportunity to grab a lead that she would not relinquish despite the best efforts of Oatley's crew. The downwind duel between these two was something special and Murray Spence, the Team Manager on Alfa, happily described conditions, "good winds today. We're very happy that it started out with a nice breeze, (that was) pretty consistent. It freshened a little in the second half of the race, which probably favoured the little boats a bit but it was a good breeze to start off the regatta."

Of the contest at the head of the fleet, Spence continued, "we had a good tight tussle with Wild Oats today. They're our main competition and it was very close racing, so quite exciting especially coming back under the spinnaker."

Overall victor on handicap in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Racing Division was Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory (GER). She too put on a display of downwind prowess, completing the course in 2 hours 28 minutes only 6 minutes behind her larger competitors. Tactician, Morgan Larson, reflected on an enjoyable day, “it was a great coastal race. Tacking around the rocks and the islands was very challenging for the crew with a lot of sail changes. Everything went very well on board, with no particular difficulty. We very much enjoyed the race, the wind and the fabulous scenery of the Costa Smeralda. If the Mistral blows in tomorrow it's going to be a lot of fun.”

Day Two – “The Breeze” Sets In

The Mistral wind of the Mediterranean can be somewhat on a par with Wellington’s “Breeze”, and so it proved on Day Two of the Maxi Rolex Cup. The wind rose abruptly during the night and continued a steady rise to 40, gusting 60, knots leading to abandonment of all racing for the day.

STOP PRESS: Day Three – Australia’s Wild Oats XI dismasted

Just after the start, in only 11 knots of breeze, Wild Oats’ mast broke into three pieces, tumbling down around the boat and crew. At time of writing it is not known what caused the failure.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2007

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

10 is the Magic Number…

by Helena de la Gándara

“Our aim is to reach the MedCup podium and that’s what we’ll be fighting to do”, says Mean Machine Valle Romano tactician Ray Davies.

Mean Machine Valle Romano is back on fire after 10 firsts this season, the most any team has notched up in this year’s circuit so far. Now the team are preparing for the final event in the 2007 Breitling MedCup Circuit, which gets going on 10th September, in the south of France town, Hyères.

It’s been a choppy season for the team sponsored by the Spanish Golf Resort Valle Romano, but it seems the Mean Machine is back on top of the waves after a powerful performance in Portimao. They had a strong start in Alicante back in June, but were disappointed with the outcome of the two regattas in Mallorca.

Founded and skippered by Peter de Ridder, the Mean Machine team has risen up from the ashes of a 50 point penalty at the Breitling Regatta, where they were disqualified from the double scoring coastal race. Each team racing on the MedCup Circuit has a discard allowance when it comes to the Windward/Leeward format (each 10 races sailed), but Coastal races do not apply. The Mean Machine Valle Romano crew felt the full force of this in Mallorca.

They were down, but not out, and the team proved “meaner” than ever, and despite a mediocre performance in the King’s Cup, also in Mallorca, tactician Ray Davies and co. pulled some great tactical sailing out of the bag for the Portugal Trophy in Portimao. The team took 5 out of a possible 7 wins, proving their outstanding sailing calibre.

This year’s Circuit presented itself as an even tougher challenge to Peter de Ridder’s crew. Expectations were high after an imposing victory in last season’s Breitling MedCup Circuit. The team became the first to win both the title of overall winners of the Circuit and the Corinthian title. The 2006 champions faced this Circuit with a 2nd generation boat and new rivals joining the ranks of the mighty TP 52 fleet on the start line. There were also new venues and an interesting set of weather conditions to grapple with.

One advantage they did have was a team of 2006 champions… Tactician Ray Davies, strategist Tom Dodson, navigator Jules Salter, trimmers Dirk de Ridder, Jon Swain and Jon Gundersen and the rest of the talented crew – Liam Newman, Jeff Reynolds, Jono Macbeth, Tony Rae, Chris Reid, Ed Van Lierde, Sander van der Borch and Stu Bettany - know what winning tastes like, and are hungry for more. Peter de Ridder’s crew are just 11 points away from that third podium step in this year’s competition.

The final event in the 2007 Breitling MedCup will be a test of Mean Machine Valle Romano’s power to fight her way on to the podium. In such a competitive and unpredictable Circuit, anything’s possible.

However, one thing’s definitely certain, the “Old Lady” might be a second generation boat, but she’s still got some fight left in her...

Mean Machine Valle Romano

Breitling MedCup 2007

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Tom Dodson on how an 'old' 2006 TP52 is still at the front of the fleet

Squeezing the Best from a 2006 Boat

by Event Media

Southern Spars director Tom Dodson is at the bedrock of the Mean Machine Valle Romano speed department. His laconic, laid back style belies his experience which spans decades but it is his natural eye for what generates boat speed from deck level and above which makes him a huge asset to the 2006 Breitling MedCup champions. Besides that, his skill and experience on the race course forms an exceptionally strong unit along with Ray Davies.

It was the tactical calls, and their precise execution, and not boat speed which won Mean Machine Valle Romano the Portugal Trophy in Portimao. Second in Alicante, first in Portugal, Mean Machine Valle Romano have been working their socks off to try and come back from the 50 points penalty which they were landed with in Portals after the coastal race.

Dodson reveals a few of the changes they made to the 2006 Rolf Vrolijk design, built by Hakes Marine of Wellington, as they attempt to squeeze out the last small percentages of performance: “We made a small modification basically to narrow the sheeting angle a little bit more just because we had noticed the difference between ours which is essentially a 2005 cabin top arrangement. The '06 and '07 set ups are a little more user friendly, I suppose you would say in terms of a getting different sheeting angles.

“My big issue from '06, was that I thought there was probably some elements of boat speed that we probably had a bit of an X-factor, that we maybe did not really understand and so I was pushing to make sure that we did not actually go backwards at all.

“I think that some had moved it up, come up with different trimming techniques, improvements, but maybe also the conditions this year have actually changed and we have been sailing in a little more wind, here and probably more seaway, so there is probably quite a lot changed.

“That is just in crossovers, in sheeting angles, and just depths of sails and twists and techniques going on out there, and ours was not winning.”

“We always like to start the season with Palma Vela and we won that with a race to spare, but there was not the full team there. We went to Alicante and did not have our Team New Zealand guys there but we probably did OK there coming away with a second. It felt like there that we were not second fastest, for sure in terms of boat speed, we really felt like we might be seventh in those terms, the boats in front being the new ones. And that has kind of shown out at Breitling and in Palma, and that is what we have addressed here, with how we make the best out of what we have.

“I think we have gained as much out of this boat as we can, which is why Peter has made the call to have a new boat. It would be fair to say that evening these races here, a lot of or performance here has come from making the right decision rather than boat speed. Last year we felt that we could hold or extend, this year we have felt we have had to hold or defend against the '07 boats coming through.

“I think it is exciting though. I haven't had this feeling since going way back through IOR and IMS ratings and optimizing the boats, now it is like going back to speaking about your Soling and one design days when you kind of step by stepped your speed.”

Breitling MedCup 2007

Mean Machine Valle Romano

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Kiwi Success with Transpac 52s in the 2007 Breitling MedCup

An Impressive Mean Machine Valle Romano Sweeps to Victory in the Portugal Trophy

by Helena de la Gándara

Displaying the colours of the Spanish golf resort Valle Romano, Peter de Ridder’s crew led the fleet right from day one of the competition. There was no sailing to be had on the final day, as the crews were faced with a lack of sufficient breeze.

Ray Davies, tactician on Mean Machine Valle Romano: “The best thing about this class is that you’re constantly learning from our rivals; without exception. You are forced to learn and improve, and that’s what makes this class so competitive and exciting”.

The Machine was unstoppable! Peter de Ridder and Mean Machine Valle Romano gave a powerful performance, dominating the Portugal Trophy, the fourth and penultimate event in the 2007 Breitling MedCup Circuit.

If “a change is as good as a rest” it was certainly true in Portimao this week. The first two days of competition saw winds gusting at up to 25 knots, pushing the TP 52s to the limit, but by the end of the week the programmed races had to be cancelled due to lack of breeze with crews left wandering the quayside.

Mean Machine Valle Romano had pink flames back on its black hull for this event, and the boat was most definitely on fire. The team hit the Algarve hoping to improve on their performances in Mallorca, Spain, and they certainly managed that. With the Spanish Valle Romano golf resort behind them, Mean Machine also notched up a team record; five firsts in one competition, beating their record of four from last year’s successful run, which earned them a 2006 Breitling MedCup title.

Behind Mean Machine Valle Romano with 17 points on the scoreboard, is Sweden’s Artemis with Russell Coutts on 32 points, and Ireland’s Patches with Ian Walker. Caixa Galicia finished in fourth place on 44 points.

Mean Machine was at ease in the waters of Portimao, and she has the scorecard to prove it: 7,1,1,5,1,1,1. This successful regatta was down to a series of factors: accurate and intelligent judgment of the racecourse by Ray Davies, Tom Dodson and De Ridder, with research and knowledge of local conditions by Jules Salter and team member Pedro das Neves; excellent choice of sails by Dirk de Ridder, Jono Swain and Jon Gundersen, and also the comprehensive groundwork the team put in for this Circuit, in which Jonathan Macbeth played a key role.

Tactician on the Mean Machine Valle Romano TP 52, Ray Davies, was impressed with the boat’s performance: “We’ve been able to plan our race from the position of a good start. There’s no magic formula to explain the team’s performance, and everyone’s worked really hard. We’ve really studied the pros and cons of the new generation boats, and as they’re faster, we’ve tried to make changes to Mean Machine to optimise her performance. The shore crew have done a great job, and Pedro das Neves, ‘our man from Portugal’ has been a great help.”

Peter de Ridder, owner and skipper on Mean Machine Valle Romano was ecstatic with the final victory: “We’ve had a great regatta, and we’ve shown we can push the boat to the limit. The new additions to the TP 52 family are really fast, especially close reaching, like Artemis, Caixa Galicia and Mutua, but I think we gave an impressive sail in Portimao.”

Peter also wanted to emphasise the great organisation of the Portugal Trophy: “I was pleasantly surprised with the organisation of this competition, by both Lagossport and Breitling MedCup. The shore facilities were fantastic, with a village that stands as a mark in the sand in this Circuit, as well as the technical side of things such as the container and sail area and an outstanding Race Committee.

"I really enjoyed the Portimao racecourse. It was the first time sailing here for me, and the first three days were great, with some strong breeze hitting the sails. I’d like to offer most sincere congratulations to Breitling MedCup, as well as the Portuguese organisation for this fantastic new event…and of course to Portimao as well!”


1. Mean Machine Valle Romano. Peter de Ridder. 7, 1, 1, 5, 1, 1, 1 = 17

2. Artemis. Torbjörn Torqnvist. 2, 3, 5, 2, 13, 4, 3 = 32

3. Patches. Ian Walker. 6, 5, 9, 11, 7, 2, 2 = 42

4. CXG Corporación Caixa Galicia. Roberto Bermúdez. 3, 4, 10, 1, 11, 8, 7 = 44

5. Windquest. Doug de Vos.10, 7, 8, 6, 8, 5, 5 = 49

6. Bribón. José Cusí.5, 2, 14, 8, 2, 13, 10 = 54

7. Stay Calm. Stuart Robinson. 1, 21, 4, 14, 6, 6, 6 = 58

8. Siemens. Guillermo Parada. 9, 13, 2, 4, 5, 14, 14 = 61

Mean Machine Valle Romano

Breitling MedCup 2007 Circuit