Saturday, 18 June 2011

Audi MedCup : Who can topple the ‘Kings of the Calanques’?

Marseille Trophy, 17 06 2011 © Stefano Gattini_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

That must be the question of this morning as the 52 Series fleet contemplate the spectacular coastal race east to Cassis and back on the fourth racing day of the Audi MedCup Circuit’s Marseille Trophy.

Quantum Racing have won on this course over the last two years and hold the Marseille Trophy as outright winners of last year’s regatta which was foreshortened due to the Mistral.

Image copyright Audi MedCup.

But there is no shortage of experience on this course right through the fleet. Most will recall the premium that is placed on good position early on in the race.

The return leg, a one sided beat under the Calanque cliffs is one of the spectacles of the season with the regular advantage to be closest in and enjoy the benefit as the wind bends. But there is usually little in the way of major place changing on the return leg.

As ever it is much more of a test of sustained boat speed, sail choice and trimming. Often on the downwind and fast reaching legs there is a pressure difference inshore and offshore.

The course distance should be around 35 miles. The breeze should be from the NW’ly Mistral direction, 310-330 degrees. The course starts with a short, sharp windward-leeward in the Rade Nord in, probably, around 15kts of breeze before rounding the SW tip of the Frioul islands and heading SE across the entrance to the Rade Sud. At the Ile Maire and Ile Riou, the islands just around the corner from Point Rouge to the east of the bay, the wind is expected to build to over 20 knots with more on the long run and reach south to the turn N to the turning mark off Cassis.

So Quantum Racing go out this morning with a three points lead over Container, who finished second in Cascais, with Bribon in third only five points off the lead.

Marseille Trophy, 17 06 2011 © Francesco Ferri_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup

It was a long, long night for the RAN surgery team to make good the repair to their aft deck and transom where it was sliced by the bobstay of Gladiator in the Race 3 incident yesterday. Boat captain Chris Hosking (AUS) and his team had to cut away the affected deck area and the port corner of the transom and replace the laminate on both surfaces.

Hosking, who has overseen the build of four recent TP52's, retired at 0330hrs this morning but their shipwright has worked all night and the team were just replacing the fittings and making good the cosmetic surfaces with some filler just minutes before RAN was due to dock out.

"It is always a sad day when you have to repair a brand new boat, it was a pretty straightfoward repair to be honest but we were lucky that it was in a non structural area of the boat, that makes the laminating a lot easier. We had to cut the transom out, a bit of the deck and the port cockpit side just behind the mainsheet cockpit turning blocks. I left at 0330hrs and I think our shipwright Nipper has been here all night. We are good to go, as strong as brand new!" said Hosking this morning.

The 40 Series fleet are scheduled to race three races on the Rade Nord, starting as soon as the 52 Series coastal race has started. Iberdrola are on top of the leader board with five points in hand over second placed XXII-Marseille and Patagonia by Negra in third, both on the same points tally after four races.

Iñaki Castañer (ESP), Skipper, Noticia IV (ESP)
“Our goal is to keep up with the type of work that we showed yesterday and improve a little more. This would help us get a better result that would put us close to that first position since we are just one point shy from the second team. Anything can happen here but we are thrilled to go back out there today. Since we had wind it Cascais we already know how the boat sails well in windy conditions. It´d be nice to have windier conditions today because it´s good for the circuit and for the crews. Marseille is an spectacular venue with Mistral. One again, the key is the small details, such as making good maneuvers or taking good care of tactics”.

Kevin Hall (USA), Navigator, Quantum Racing (USA):
“The wind should pick up today, we just don´t know exactly when, it could be an interesting call to make with the mainsail. The course is a little bit different from last year, it should be a nice change, but we still get to beat up my favorite parts. So far we are in a good spot in the regatta so we are going to try to do a good job. It was nice to see ALL4ONE win a race yesterday, they deserved it because they sailed really well, I think that we´ll be seeing more of that.”

Audi MedCup