Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Audi MedCup: Under Starters' Orders in Marseille

The Rade Sud dealt great conditions when the Audi MedCup Circuit raced here in 2008. An encore in 2009 would be welcome.

Teams working in the Race Village, Marseille Trophy, 08/06/2009. Image copyright G.Grenier_Martin-Raget/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Marseille’s Rade Sud is one of the most challenging race areas on the Audi MedCup Circuit. Tightly bordered to the west by the Iles Frioul – the Ile Pomègues and the Ile Ralonneau – and the mainland to the east, the natural amphitheatre is watched by a whole collection of historic landmarks, not least the iconic Notre Dame de La Garde church which defines the Marseille skyline.

Even the Chateau d’If, on a small somewhat randomly placed islet on the fringe of the race arena, a former penal colony where the Count of Monte Cristo was set, has an influence on the breeze and racers’ strategies.

It’s an intoxicating setting for the second Audi MedCup Circuit regatta of the 2009 season, the second time that the Circuit has been hosted by the sailing savvy highly cosmopolitan city.

But in sailing terms Marseille is synonymous with the famous blustery Mistral winds. Last year’s Marseille Trophy regatta was visited by the Mistral, strong breezes to produce some of the most exciting conditions of the season, one contributing reason that the Circuit is back, hopefully for more.

“The one thing about the race area here is that there is no simple formula for this week. We could see a little bit of everything, maybe with some Mistral on Friday. Honestly it will not be simple at all, they are not classic conditions at all.” Confirms Dimitri Deruelle, 1992 French Olympian in the 470 class and currently 470 and 49er coach who is offering local input to the Emirates Team Zealand challenge in Marseille.

Tuesday’s TP52 Practise Race for the eleven TP52 Series is preceded today by a muscular 23 knots of breeze out on the Rade Sud.

Alberto Roemmers’ Matador (ARG) team, who top the Audi MedCup Circuit leaderboard after winning the City of Alicante Trophy last month, know how fragile their one point lead is, as do those crews who are in hot pursuit.

British crew Cristabella, who missed Alicante, return to the fray after just one day sailing with a full crew on their new boat, the former El Desafio.

Only two points separate the top three TP52’s. Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis (SWE) lies second by one point and Emirates Team New Zealand are third on the table.

Racing begins for the TP52 Series again on Wednesday with three planned windward-leewards. The coastal race is scheduled for Friday with racing concluding on Sunday.

The GP42 Series is equally delicately poised after Daniel Calero’s team stole victory in the dying minutes of the final race in Alicante with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) leading by a single point too. All six boats which contested the City of Alicante Trophy resume their rivalries on Wednesday with the GP42 Series’ Practice Race, before GP42 Series points are up for grabs again on Thursday. The GP42’s do not race a Coastal Race.

Live coverage of all the TP52 Series and GP42 Series racing is available during the regatta on www.medcup.org with real time tracking and audio comments from the race course. Visitors to the regatta site in Marseille’s Vieux Port will enjoy the extensive new Audi MedCup fully interactive EXPO.


Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand: “ It would be nice to see a little more breeze. These boats are a lot of fun when you get up into 20 knots plus. Last year Marseille was incredible and we would like to see more of that .”

Jose Ponce (ESP), helmsman Islas Canarias Puerto Calero:" We are really looking forward to getting on the boat, since we still haven't sailed a lot with it; here we will find more wind than in Alicante, but our boat is supossed to perform better as the wind increases. We have to fine tune it for the conditions of this venue, something which proved difficult in Alicante. This will probably be the toughest race of the circuit".

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Current Overall Standings

TP52 Series
1. Matador (ARG), 36 points
2. Artemis (SWE), 37 points
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 38 points
4. Quantum Racing (USA), 40 points
5. Bigamist (POR), 46 points

GP42 Series
1. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 20 points
2. Airis (ITA), 21 points
3. Roma (ITA), 22 points
4. Caser-Endesa (ESP), 33 points
5. Turismo Madrid (ESP), 35 points

Audi MedCup

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