Thursday, 13 May 2010

Audi MedCup: Plenty of Reward from Practice Day for Emirates Team New Zealand

Audi MedCup practice race off Cascais. Image copyright Chris Cameron.

by Warren Douglas

Emirates Team New Zealand got a good feel for the testing conditions and strong opposition in the practice race of the Cascais regatta, the first event of the 2010 Audi MedCup circuit.

The defending TP52 series champions, Emirates Team New Zealand led for most of the race, eventually finishing second to British boat Cristabella in the tricky shifting breezes, which fluctuated between 11 and 14 knots.

Skipper Dean Barker said he was very happy with the performance of the crew and the boat, NZL380, modified at the end of last season to enhance its performance.

“Today was a good opportunity to check in with the conditions, the boat speed and crew work,” Barker said.

“We had a pretty good start near the committee boat end, and it was a really shifty first beat where we managed to have a very good battle with TeamOrigin, Cristabella and Matador. We ended up leading around the top mark, and went through the bottom gate even with Cristabella.”

TP52s practice off Cascais. Image copyright Chris Cameron.

In a true test of tactics, NZL380 continued to enjoy the lead around the final windward mark, and headed offshore downwind to take advantage of more breeze, but as the wind softened, Cristabella passed them on the run to the finish.

Said Barker: “It was very difficult downwind to pick which side was favoured, and it’s certainly going to be a difficult venue to predict. While we sailed a really good race and it would have been a very good result to keep, today was a lot about learning from the conditions and our performance.”

“The boat feels good - we’re very happy with the changes, and the shore crew have done a great job getting us ready. We’re just looking forward to the racing now.”

Barker also took note of the quality of the 10 other TP52 boats lining up for the Portugal Trophy, predicting the standard of racing will be “certainly a lot higher” this season.

“There’s a new depth to the fleet, and we’re very excited to be racing in it. We know consistency is going to be the key to doing well, because there will be ups and downs with a fleet of this calibre,” he said.

Audio of Dean Barker speaking after the practice race

Among the line-up are three newcomers – TeamOrigin, the French-German All4One syndicate and Luna Rossa.

Racing officially gets underway in Cascais Wednesday.

Portugal Trophy, Cascais: Official Training Race

TP52 Series

1. Cristabella (GBR), 01:03:24
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), +00:08
3. Matador (ARG), +00:20
4. Bribón (ESP), +00:43
5. Luna Rossa (ITA), +00:48
6. Bigamist 7 (POR), +00:50
7. Quantum Racing (USA), +01:00
8. TeamOrigin (GBR), +01:16
9. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), +01:21

Emirates Team New Zealand
Audi MedCup