Thursday, 13 May 2010

Audi MedCup: First blood to Britain's Cristabella in Cascais, 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit leaders after Day 1

Three different TP52's won the first three races of the new 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit season today off Cascais, Portugal, but it is Britain's much improved Cristabella which leads the TP52 Series. John Bassadone's Peninsula Petroleum won the practice race for the GP42 Series

Cristabella (GBR) leads after day one. Portugal Trophy, Cascais, 12 05 2010 © Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Cristabella, the British flagged TP52 shrugged off any sailing superstitions that it may be unlucky to win a regatta’s practice race when they emerged from a challenging first day of the new 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit season with a very slender lead of just one point over 2008 champions Quantum Racing.

Cristabella, owned by John Cook, skippered by John Cutler and steered by Tim Powell scored a second, eighth and a third from the three races on the bay of Cascais which were contested in moderate wind conditions which were never easy or consistent.

TP52 race start, Portugal Trophy, Cascais, 12 05 2010 © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup.

Underlining the strength and depth of the fleet this season, the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit TP52 Series champions Emirates Team New Zealand could only muster a modest start to their defence, posting a sixth and an 11th before regaining their winning ways, victorious in Race 3 by 49 seconds over Britain’s debutants TeamOrigin.

After the first day of racing of the new it is an easy conclusion to draw that the three teams which are new to the Audi MedCup Circuit, Luna Rossa, TeamOrigin and Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE, have significantly increased the overall standard, even considering that some have had very little sailing time with their boats. Consistency across the three races was difficult and often teams which were among the vanguard of one race would find themselves slugging it out in the lower reaches of the fleet, unable to gain places.

Emirates Team New Zealand on day one of the Portugal Trophy, Cascais, 12 05 2010 © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

Emirates Team New Zealand, for whom consistently excellent starting was one of the building blocks of their Circuit title last year, made two consecutive sub-standard starts and were unable to fight back through into the top half of the fleet. When they did conspire to get off the start line in better shape, it was a familiar sight as they extended to take their first win of the season in Race 3.

Cristabella’s laconic part Kiwi tactician John Cutler confirmed today that they were happy to take Tuesday’s winning gun for the practice race as much simply because "last year we could scarcely get out of our own way, so anything at all seemed worth taking." Their 2009 season finished inauspiciously when they damaged their rig in the penultimate race of the season, but with a new keel, rudder, rig, sails, and changes to the crew line up, early indications suggest that the British boat could be contenders this season.

Quantum Racing (USA) won the first race of the season, just passing Cristabella on the second downwind leg. Karol Jablonski (POL) then steered the Russian boat Synergy to win the second race of the day, getting the better of Matador (ARG) who took third.


John Cutler (GBR/NZL), tactician Cristabella (GBR):
“ The first start was good we got the side of the course that we wanted, even though it was incredibly shifty we had a nice little lead. We held until we got a little on the wrong side on the last run and Quantum got past us.
“ The next race we did not really get what we wanted at the start and we were down the back until we fought back to eighth, which was a move forwards.
"The final race we were in the middle of the fleet really and just chipped our way forwards a couple of place.
“ We really did not expect anything from today, so its nice. We knew that is we sailed well then things could go well for us, but this is just Day 1 of 50 days. The boat is going fine. We anticipated a couple of shifts. Everyone is doing a really nice job, but it is an incredibly tough race course.
“I think we all know now that we have a better boat and better equipment and so with that I think everyone has lifted their game, it has gone up a notch.
“It was good, people say don’t win the practice race, but we had a long season last season where we could not get out of our own way, so we always think we take what we get.”

Close TP52 racing on day one, Portugal Trophy, Cascais, 12 05 2010 © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

Ben Ainslie (GBR), skipper-helm TeamOrigin (GBR):
"It's really tight racing. It's a great standard and it makes it very exciting for the competitors, a fantastic day of sailing, probably one of the best ones I've had in quite a long time. It was really tricky for the tacticians, caling the windshifts, we did a really good job. Our boat likes these conditions. Maybe even stronger winds would be better for us and more fun for the fleet.
"The wings (on TeamOrigin's keel bulb) are not a problem, we certainly are legal to race in this particular regatta and maybe we will have to remove them for the rest of the season, but that's not a problem for us."

Ray Davies (NZL) tactician Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
"They were mixed results for us today, first we had a bad start and we were back and struggled to find a lane and once you're back in the pack and it's shifty it's hard to make jump back to the lead, though we managed to move up.
" The second one was kind of a shocker, we had an average start but got out of it quite nicely and went really well to the right and took the time to come back, crossed the fleet where could and that ended up being bad timing. As soon as we tacked we got a header and we got bounced by the other boats and we were back at the back. We went the wrong way up in the second beat and ended up donkey last, so it was a disaster.
"On the third one we had a glamour start went the right way and led by a long way.
"The conditions out there are easy when you are in the lead, very tough when you are in the pack.
" Good news is the points are very very close so we're definitely still in it."

Quantum Racing, Portugal Trophy, Cascais, 12 05 2010 © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper Quantum Racing (USA):
" You fight for every point, that's for sure, but it was a great day, beautiful conditions and I think we sailed bloody well. It was disapointing to lose a couple of boats on that last run, but that's life. Today we started well, we sailed consistently and didn't risk any fouls. We knew that it was going to be very hard, so full credit to Kevin Hall and Adrian Stead and the other guys on the boat.
" We didn't get everything right but when we weren't quite right we didn't pay too havily for it either.
" It was very shifty but I would say the left side was slightly better than the right. You can make it work."

GP42 Series official training race for Peninsula Petroleum

GP42 fleet hold their training race, Portugal Trophy, Cascais, 12 05 2010 © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

Being at his first-ever Audi MedCup regatta, it could be argued that owner/driver John Bassadone (GBR) had a stroke of Beginner’s Luck in winning today’s Practice Race in the GP42 Series. After all, this was his first race appearance in his newly-renovated boat Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) (ex-Madrid), even though his team had competed a few weeks ago at the Palma Vela event without him.

But they had a strong start in the 12-14 knot conditions to allow them an early lead in the race, only to get reined in by another owner/driver, Roberto Monti on AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), who rounded the last top mark in the lead to the finish. But this lead too was not safe, as World Tour match race veteran Paolo Cian (ITA) steering Madrid – Caser Seguros (ESP) just metres astern, drove Monti and team into the corner whilst the remainder of the class gybed away back towards the favored side.

The move cost Monti the race, but he didn’t seem concerned. „This is the start of a long series, we’ll have plenty of chances to get back at Paolo,“ he said with a smile.

Reigning GP42 Series MedCup champion Puerto Calero (ESP) sat at the dock today as team members arrived on site and their final preparations were being made. Skipper Jose Maria Ponce and his young team from Islas Canarias were planning a late day sail to shake out the cobwebs, but he seemed pretty relaxed.

Start of GP42 practice race, Portugal Trophy, Cascais, 12 05 2010 © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

Thursday sees the first races of the season for the GP42 Series.

Audi MedCup TV live broadcasts from 1250hrs local time with all of live action images from the race course, complemented by comments and interviews throughout racing on

Portugal Trophy, Cascais

TP52 Series
Overall – Day 1

1. Cristabella (GBR), 2+8+3= 13 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA), 1+5+8= 14
3. Matador (ARG), 7+2+5= 14
4. Synergy (RUS), 8+1+6= 15
5. TeamOrigin (GBR), 4+9+2= 15
6. Artemis (SWE), 3+6+7= 16
7. Luna Rossa (ITA), 5+3+9= 17
8. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 6+11+1= 18
9. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 9+7+4= 20
10. Bigamist 7 (POR), 11+4+11= 26
11. Bribón (ESP), 10+10+10= 30

GP42 Series
Official Training Race

1. Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), 00:59:39
2. Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP), +00:21
3. Iberdrola (ESP), +00:24
5. Puerto Calero (ESP), DNC

Audi MedCup