Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Audi MedCup: Italian Confidence Rises on Audi Q8 as they win Marseille Practice Race

Audi Q8 prove they have all they need to win on the Audi MedCup Circuit when they won today's practice race by a long way

Marseille Trophy, 09/06/2009. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Riccardo Simoneschi’s team on Audi Q8 deciphered the difficult, changeable breeze on the Rade sud best to win the Marseille Trophy’s practice race today for the 11 TP52 Series crews, but the lesson learned by all is that fortune will favour the brave on a race area which today offered many different patterns to the winds which are affected heavily by the majestic surrounding geography.

Racing in the moderate S to SE’ly breeze, with the high, rocky mountainous promontory of the Point Rouge inshore to the left, and the Isles Frioul to the right of the course arena, the breeze was often uneven across the race track. Upwind there was often the choice of staying inshore where the breeze was puffier and the gusts offered a beneficial angle, or offshore where there was a more settled wind.

The winning gun today is a confidence boost for owner-driver Simoneschi’s mainly Italian team who struggled at times in Alicante. They proved today that they can build from a good start and first beat to work up a big, comfortable lead.

Tactician Charlie McKee (USA) – double Olympic medallist – called a gybe-set at the windward mark to earn the lead on the first run, but Audi Q8’s biggest gain was in the shifty gusts at the top of the second beat where they jumped to 1 minute and 42 seconds ahead of the jousting Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) and Circuit leaders Matador (ARG).

Downwind, when the breeze peaked at 16-17 knots there were sparkling moments of fast marginal planing speeds, just a brief reminder of last year’s great conditions here.

Emirates Team New Zealand were able to hold off the Alicante Trophy winners Matador to take second across the finish line, over one and a half minutes behind Audi Sailing Team powered by Q8.

The six GP42 Series teams were on the water, practising and observing the TP52 action to see what they can learn prior to their first ever races as a class on these waters. Their practise race is tomorrow.

Three windward-leeward races are scheduled for tomorrow for the TP52 Series, a target which could have been achieved comfortably in today’s welcomed wind strength.

Quotes of the day:
Charlie McKee, tactician Audi Q8 (ITA): “ Small fleet racing where everyone is super-smart then whenever you tack and gybe in the right places then you are going to do well, and if you don’t you can be last. That’s the bottom line.

“ It is puffy and shifty enough so that really is very difficult to sail conservatively. It is trying to sail your shifts and puffs that come to you the best you can. That wind direction in the bay was tricky because the puffs were angling from the left, off the beach, but then there is sort of a steadier wind out to sea. You really can’t work a strategy round that. What you can do is do the best that you can with your puff-lull sequence and that is what is critical. And we had some nice luck.

“ But it is good for the team. We have strong confidence in our team and the ability of our crew, but it is always difficult to have a result like we did in Alicante. At this top level of the sport it is no one thing, it is a whole bunch of little things. And so you go away and look at everything, everyone in their area tried to do the little things. When you are losing you are never as bad as you look, and when you are winning like we were today, you are never as good as you look.

“ We have tried to take the lessons from Alicante, but really it is just trying to sail well, tack and gybe in the right places.”

Thierry Peponnet (FRA), helmsman of Bribon (ESP): “It was complicated in these S and SE’ly winds which were changing a lot. We were surprised a bit by the 20 degree wind shifts. We are not expecting to be so changeable for the rest of the week. I think it will be a little more regular, but we do know now to expect everything.”

Guillermo Parada (ARG), skipper-helm of Matador (ARG): “Our goal is to leave here still leading the Audi MedCup Circuit. And that, with a lead of just one point, means we come here to win.”

Audi MedCup

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