Saturday, 15 May 2010

Audi MedCup: Champions in the Lead

Both the TP52 Series and GP42 Series 2009 Audi MedCup champions took today, Friday, the overall lead of the Portugal Trophy Cascais. Emirates Team New Zealand was second and first today, and leads by 3 points over TeamOrigin; Puerto Calero added two seconds and one first, and leads by 4 points. On Saturday, the TP52 Series Coastal Race is due to start at 1300h local time

TP52 Portugal Cup leaders Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) lead the Portugal Trophy, Cascais after posting a strong second and first place from the two TP52 races Friday.

But for an error by Team Origin (GBR) which required them to take a penalty turn early in the second race, the emerging duel between the Kiwi Audi MedCup champions and the British team might be even closer.

TP52 fleet downwind. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Audi MedCup.

Conditions were ideal for the third day of racing for the 11 strong TP52 fleet, 16-22 knots of breeze and two good tests proved enjoyable tests for crews through the fleet. As the breeze peaked during the both races, several gennaker sails were shredded, a tough punishment for small mistakes, and consistency was never easily achieved.

TEAMORIGIN 1851. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Audi MedCup.

Since their faltering opening day, when they scored a sixth and 11th, languishing at the back of the pack at the finish of Race 2, Emirates Team New Zealand are back to something close to their best. Now they have won three of the last five starts and lead TeamOrigin by three points as the TP52 Series approaches Saturday's Coastal Race.

TP52 fleet downwind on Day Three of the Portugal Trophy. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Audi MedCup.

With 2008 champions Quantum Racing (USA) remaining slightly compromised in the absence again today of skipper-helm Terry Hutchinson (USA), who was still under final observation after taking a knock on the head before yesterday, Emirates Team New Zealand have found themselves an adversary very close to their level in Team Origin who are still only on Day 3 of their TP52 racing experience.

TEAMORIGIN 1851. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

Adrian Stead (GBR) took the helm of Quantum Racing again today but, according to the Quantum Racing team, Hutchinson should be back on board for tomorrow’s coastal race.

TeamOrgin won the first race and were serious contenders in the second heat of the day, until they had to take a penalty for infringing Jochen Schuemann and the crew of Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE near the top mark. But the British team, which has a trio of gold medallists, Ben Ainslie (GBR) on the helm, Iain Percy (GBR) as tactician and Andrew Simpson (GBR) as strategist, forming their afterguard has otherwise been consistently strong starting and nailing the vital windshifts. Percy spoke yesterday of not putting themselves in potentially expensive positions, and so they will draw important conclusions from their de-brief today.

Synergy, Audi A1 Team powered by ALL4ONE and TEAMORIGIN 1851. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Audi MedCup.

The Russian team on Synergy, with Karol Jablonski (POL) as helm and Rod Dawson (NZL) as tactician, have been impressive with their regular results – third in the second race today – keeps them two points ahead of Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis (SWE) which paired a second to a seventh today.

Luna Rossa. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

TP52 Series - Race 6

Emirates Team New Zealand lead off the pin end of the start line and were able to get to the favoured right side of the course early to gain the initial advantage along with TeamOrigin. But TeamOrigin managed to get a better wind shift slightly inshore to round in the lead ahead of Team New Zealand.

TP52 fleet upwind. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

The breeze built from inshore on the last run, when Emirates Team New Zealand stayed further off. After gybe setting, as did TeamOrigin, Bribón (ESP) stole ahead of the champions on the final run, challenging for second, but when a problem with their spinnaker sheet after their final gybe, just 100 metres from the finish line, dropped the Spanish boat to fourth. TeamOrigin won comfortably and Luna Rossa (ITA) gained on the final run to earn third.

Bigamist 7. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

TP52 Series - Race 7

Emirates Team New Zealand lead from the first mark to the finish line, with another display of cohesive team work and immaculate tactics. With the breeze peaking at over 23 knots, the action near the windward mark which was some 600 metres off the shore, was intense and exciting. Artemis took second place.

GP42 Series: Puerto Calero extends their lead

The reigning Audi MedCup champions are showing themselves as the team to beat, as the Canarias-based Puerto Calero (ESP) team extended their lead in the GP42 Series on impressive scores of 2-1-2 in the three races sailed today. Their consistency has put them in a 4-point lead over their B&C-designed sistership, Madrid–Caser Seguros (ESP), who finally put a win of their own on the scoreboard for the first time today.

Puerto Calero. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Audi MedCup.

“It was a tough day, very windy and at times shifty,” said Puerto Calero helmsman Jose Maria Ponce (ESP), “but we sail pretty well in these conditions, and the team did a great job of making very few errors.”

Windy indeed: the brisk northwest breeze today topped 22 knots, and seas built up to 2 metres, making upwind sailing a jarring ride at times but downwind an absolute blast, with all boats surfing at high speed on the 8-mile courses. Nonetheless, the teams are aware of the chess game chase for points at this halfway point in the competition.

Matador and Luna Rossa. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

Portugal Trophy, Cascais

TP52 Series
Overall – Day 3

1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 6+11+1+1+4+2+1= 26 puntos
2. TeamOrigin (GBR), 4+9+2+4+2+1+7= 29
3. Synergy (RUS), 8+1+6+3+5+8+3= 34
4. Artemis (SWE), 3+6+7+8+3+7+2= 36
5. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 9+7+4+6+1+5+5= 37
6. Quantum Racing (USA), 1+5+8+2+10+9+8= 43
7. Cristabella (GBR), 2+8+3+5+9+6+10= 43 points
8. Luna Rossa (ITA), 5+3+9+10+6+3+9= 45
9. Matador (ARG), 7+2+5+9+8+12(DSQ)+6= 49
10. Bribón (ESP), 10+10+10+12(DNC)+7+4+4= 57
11. Bigamist 7 (POR), 11+4+11+7+11+11+12(DNF)= 67

Quantum Racing. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

GP42 Series
Overall - Day 2

1. Puerto Calero (ESP), 1+1+2+1+2= 7 puntos
2. Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP), 3+2+3+2+1= 11
3. Iberdrola (ESP), 2+5+1+3+3= 14
4. Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), 4+3+4+5+4= 20
5. AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), 5+4+5+4+6(DNF)= 24

TEAMORIGIN 1851. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

Quotes of the day:

Mike Sanderson (NZL), team director and deckhand TeamOrigin (GBR)
“ We are learning the whole time that we are sailing, it's the ninth or tenth time on the water with the boat, and now also our eighth or ninth race in the TP52 Circuit for most of us, not our fifth or sixth year so we couldn't be happier with how it's going.
“ It's exactly what we hoped, race is amazingly tight, the fleet is very, very competitive, the start line are incredibly intense.
“It is ticking all the boxes we hoped it would. We chose to take a penalty, it was a very close port starboard at the top mark. We got a pretty unlucky, a little windshift right at the top when we were trying to cross the Audi A1, right at the port hand layline.
“You know it's a long series, it's a 50 race regatta, so better doing a penalty turn now than having to go into the room and try to defend it all time.”

Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

Dean Barker (NZL), skipper-helm Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“ The standard is much higher than last year. The teams have put in more time preparing. The boats are all in very good condition and certainly the fleet seems to be cruising along pretty much the same speed, so it's all about small gains here and there. TeamOrigin has picked up very quickly and are very tough competitors.
“ We made a lot of mistakes during the first day, but we've sailed much better during the last two days.
“ TeamOrigin is a very strong team, we know the guys very well. Ben was part of Team New Zealand in 2007 so know the guys very well, it's always going to be very interesting racing against Ben and his guys. There is a huge amount of talent there, they were a very strong team in the Louis Vuitton events and they have a new boat here which is pretty competitive. It is good racing. There's certainly other teams with chances, this is a long way from being over, there's a coastal race and two more races on the last day which should be just as tough, it's a tough tough race course. We have to be patient and take opportunities.”

Jochen Schümann (GER), skipper Audi A1 powered by All4One (GER/FRA):
“ At the last top mark, we were trying to hoist our kite but we lost the tack line so it wasn't fixed to the bowsprit anymore, just to the sheet, and in this wind that's a big problem of course, and then it's very difficult to control de boat. It was flying up and to leeward. With spinnaker you sail at 20 knots, and so without the kite you lose a lot of speed and that has cost us two boats, which was a pity since we were at third position for almost the whole race.
“ I don't think this is ever going to happen again, it was a silly mistake, not typical at all.” “ It's been a very exciting racing day, and I think we have proved that yesterday wasn't just luck. And today, again, we've been in the top half of the fleet with difficult conditions and in the second one as I said I think we deserved to be third but we've spoilt it ourselves with this silly mistake.”

Luna Rossa and Synergy. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

Alexnder Ekimov (RUS), trimmer upwind Synergy (RUS)
“ In the first race we've shredded the spinnaker, so there was nothing we could do. In the second race we've had very good speed up and downwind, and very good tactics, the crew has done a very good job. The fleet is very strong this year, so our satisfaction for being in the top is even bigger. We have been training very, very hard this winter, and we are getting results.”

TP52 fleet. Image copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Audi MedCup.

Gustavo Martínez Doreste (ESP), tactician Puerto Calero:
" The key is not making any mistakes and we've managed not to make any and be as consistent as possible. Races were very even, and we've had to wait till the last minute to know who was going to win, so we've decided not to take any risks and sail more conservatively. The most important thing is that we've been fighting to win and we've managed one first and two second places in the three races. We are happy and we must keep on sailing cool headed.

Jose María Van der Ploeg (ESP), tactician and co-owner Madrid-Caser (ESP):
" We are very happy with today's victory, happy cause yesterday we had a bad time tunning the boat, and we've solved it today. We've managed to concentrate and sail better, and the boat is performing much more consistently, so we've been able to concentrate on the tactics."

Matador. Image copyright Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

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