Consistency was the key once again as champions Quantum Racing emerge to lead the TP52 series after three great races, while Roma 2 leads the GP42 Series.
Quantum Racing competing in the City of Alicante Trophy. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Audi MedCup.
by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson
At times it was spectacular as the sea breeze off Alicante built to 17 knots at times, but it was never easy or straightforward as the Audi MedCup champions Quantum Racing (USA) eased into the overall lead of the City of Alicante Trophy Regatta after three close races today. In the GP42 Series which revelled in the sparkling conditions today, it is the Italian Roma Mk2 which leads.
Quantum Racing struck gold early, winning the first race of the day, threatening the kind of dominant performance which they displayed in certain conditions last season but it was their consistency across Races 3 and 4 of the TP52 Series which ensured they hold a three points lead over second placed Matador (ARG).
Matador, new this season, lead the overall standings after Race 3 but were slow off their final start and could only manage an eighth to share the same points tally as third places Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL).
Skipper Terry Hutchinson (USA) admitted the Quantum Racing crew were satisfied with their day but confirmed that although the action looked brisk and exciting, there were always differences in pressure and wind strength to make gains and losses on every leg.
Quantum Racing (USA) squeezed inside Valars III (RUS) at the windward mark in the first race of the day to lead at each turn and win from 2007 champions Artemis (SWE).
A wind shift to the right just as the second race started, with the breeze peaking at 16-17 knots, made life interesting at the right hand end of the start line, where the bunching at the committee boat was pronounced. In this melée Bribon fouled Quantum Racing, but the American boat was still able to extricate themselves going on to finish third behind Matador and Synergy.
The Russian team on the Reichel-Pugh designed former USA-17 capped a strong day for them when they won the third race. With Cameron Dunn (NZL) calling tactics and Chris Main (NZL) trimming the mainsail for helmsman Sergei Pichugin (UKR) they could have been even better but for catching a plastic bag round their keel.
First blood for GP42
Emerging as the day’s winner on an impressive 1-1-2 record in the GP42 Series, the Roma 2 team, led by skipper Paolo Cian (ITA), showed their experience from two previous years of GP42 campaigning in having strong starts and fast pace all around the course, but particularly so downwind where they often stretched their lead when ahead and closed the gaps when behind. Designed by Farr, the boat has just emerged from tummy-tuck surgery to the stern sections to better optimize performance downwind and in light air.
“The team did a great job,” said Cian, helmsman of the Shosholoza America’s Cup team and currently ranked 7th in the World Match Racing Tour, “as we were very aggressive at working every wave and puff, and seemed to gain the most here. It was a great day for us a fantastic start to the season.”
The Roma team is pushing hard in this GP42 Series, even on the GP42 class 800 kg weight limit: a post-race weight check revealed the team to by a mere 6 kg under the limit, where even the slightest infraction in this class yields a disastrous DSQ on the scorecard of any offending team.
Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
City of Alicante Trophy
Provisional standings after 4 races:
1. Quantum Racing (USA) 5,1,3,4=13 points
2. Matador (ARG) 2,5,1,8=16 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 4,4,6,2=16 points
4. Marazzi Sailing (SUI) 4,6,4,10=24 points
5. Synergy (RUS) 11,11,2,1=25 points
Provisional standings after 3 races:
1. Roma (ITA) 1,1,2=4 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) 3,2,1=6 points
3. Airis (ITA) 2,3,3=8 points
4. Caser-Endesa (ESP) 4,4,4=12 points
5. Turismo Marid (ESP) 6,5,5=16 points
Quotes of the day
Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper-helm Quantum Racing (USA):
“The guys at the back of the boat did a really good job sniffing out all the wind shifts. That first race in particular we started where we wanted to but not necessarily with the fleet balancing as we expected, we were the leeward-most boat but Mark and Morgan were really, really strong on the left hand side. We had a nice little left hand shift and extended away from there.
“The other races: the second race we got fouled at the start of the second race but still managed to get away. There was no space but we let them in so there was not collisions with other boats. But the positive from that was that we got the start we wanted. We would have been a lot faster had that not happened.
“ The third race we hit four or five waves in the middle of the course and were slow but did nice work to get up to fourth.
“ Morgan, Mark and Robert did a really good job in keeping an open mind. Really good communication about the phases of the wind, and the guys racing the boat did nice work with the boat handling.
“ It is a five regatta Series so you know how I feel this early, but don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be leading but there are so many good teams around this season.”
Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand:
“ It was an interesting day. The right hand side ended up being very strong in the first couple of races and then in the third it started trending back towards the left a little beat, but there were some big gains down the run, mainly to gybe early. There was nearly always more pressure to the right looking upwind. And the guys that could gybe early and sail their own mode were launched. We had a little tussle with the Spanish and lost three boats towards the finish in the second race, which was a little bit of a disappointment.
“ All in all we had a pretty good day. We can definitely sail better as a crew and so we are pretty happy to be just three points off the lead. It is never nice losing a boat on the finish line but we had to protect on the two boats behind, you cant cover everyone and the Russians were sailing really well having a second and a first.
"We feel like we go well downwind when the breeze is up a little bit. Upwind our speed is fine. The boat has great potential and we are still learning. It is a very different boat to what we are used to. You need to stay much more on top of it, trim a little bit more than previous boats we have sailed in this class, and so we have to be more on our game.”
Guilermo Parada (ARG), skipper-helm Matador (ARG):
“We sailed badly in the third race. I made a bad start and we just did not take advantage of the opportunities that we got to be able to climb the fleet when we could. This fleet you just cannot afford mistakes. We are not happy with our performance but there is a lot of racing left in this regatta and we expect to be able to win races.