Thursday, 8 October 2009

TP52 World Championships: Form a Queue

Quantum Racing lead the TP52 world championships after a testing opening day on the Bay of Palma

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

The autumn evening sun was already dipping low in the sky as Quantum Racing (USA) took the winning gun for the second of two races today at the TP52 World Championships off Palma, Mallorca. Their win, paired with a fifth from the first heat ensures the current world champions lead overall by a single point.

Even if the sea breeze took its time to build and only peaked with short spells offering 11 knots and mostly averaged around 6-8 knots, it proved a tricky afternoon over which the usual Palma tactical conventions did not always hold true, and consistency in the ten boat fleet across these first two windward-leeward races proved elusive.

After two races Quantum Racing (USA) lead the Russian team on Synergy who took a second and fifth and are matched on the same seven points tally by Alberto Roemmers’ current Copa del Rey champions on Matador (ARG) who took a third and a fourth.

Real Club Nautico de Palma member John Cook on the helm of Cristabella - which last year won the Copa del Rey as Iberdrola with Terry Hutchinson as tactician - triumphed in the first race. The British crew, with Manchester export John Cutler (NZL) as tactician, recognised the additional wind pressure and small shift to the right of the course on the first beat, and after a modest start, were able to cross the fleet two thirds of the way up the leg. They led at the windward turn by a clear 40 metres from Synergy and went on to win by 22 seconds with Matador third.

It proved a morale boosting opening for the British owner Cook who is current chairman of the TP52 fleet and has been a member of the host club for more than 15 years, where he has based six different Cristabella yachts, three TP52’s since 2005.

Previous to this the Cristabella crew’s most memorable victory was in 2006 when the they won one of the most exciting coastal races ever of the MedCup Circuit, racing around Formentera in 2006. And it is Cristabella’s best World Championships race yet, after a second placing in 2007 in Porto Cervo.

It was after 1800hrs in the early evening when Quantum Racing’s afterguard of Morgan Larson (USA) and Mark Mendelblatt (USA) conspired to read the opening beat of the second race to best effect, calling the favourable left shift on the left of the track ahead of the slight extra pressure on the right. The current champions were ahead at the windward mark to lead local favourites Bribón across the finish.

With Gonzalo Araujo steering, the Spanish boat was well placed off the pin end of the start line and also profited to the left on the first beat, able to hold off the 2007 champions Artemis who took third.

Quantum Racing lead after day one. Image copyright Nico Martinez/TP52 World Championships

TP52 World Championship 2009
Palma de Mallorca (Spain)
Overall standings after Day 1

1. Quantum Racing (USA, Terry Hutchinson), 5+1= 6 points
2. Synergy (RUS, Sergey Pichuguin), 2+5= 7 points
3. Matador (ARG, Alberto Roemmers), 3+4= 7 points
4. Bribón (ESP, Gonzalo Araujo), 7+2= 9 points
5. Cristabella (GBR, John Cook), 1+9=10 points

Morgan Larson, tactician, Quantum Racing (USA):
“ It proved to be every bit as challenging today as Palma can be. Sometimes it is like that where the right looks windier but everyone knows about that geographical left shift. I think the race committee did a nice job of making the right hand a little favoured so it was enticing and so Cristabella got it right. We thought it would be about one in ten times when the right paid out big and it happened, they did a nice job.

“ Second race was great for us. It was still a challenge because we knew the fleet was thinking right and the pressure looked to be on the right, but we were happy to go for the left shift. That made it easy to take the pin and it paid out.

“ The MedCup you are building points throughout and so you are trying to podium each event and you are always thinking about the overall, this is the world championships and so no one is sailing conservative, everyone is going all out to win.

“ And it has a nice atmosphere, it is nice to be finally at a yacht club and Palma is always a nice City to come to, and it is also really nice to see a couple of new boats to the fleet, some new faces out there.

“ We don’t really think of it as being here to defend our title, it’s a world championship. If you can win a world championship you’d be happy, and this was a good way to begin. I am sure there will be some tricky days ahead.”

TP52 World Championships

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