Monday 8 October 2007

What you didn't hear about the Breitling MedCup TP52s...

by SailRaceWin

Level on points going into the final event, the Hyères Trophée, Artemis, owned and driven by Torbjörn Tornqvist, with Russell Coutts as tactician, and CxG Corporación Caixa Galicia, owned by Vicente Tirado, with John Kostecki calling the shots, were keeping a close eye on each other throughout the event.

Artemis pulled the most punches, from the start of the first race onwards. In a private match race within the fleet racing proper, Artemis covered Caixa Galicia fairly closely up the beats, and extended a little downwind. Racing was over two laps of a windward/leeward course, with the exception of a double-point scoring coastal 'round the islands' race on the penultimate day.

In race two, Caixa Galicia pulled a fake gybe, sending Artemis off to the right (looking upwind). However, Artemis was still well ahead at the leeward gate. The left being favoured, both boats picked the lefthand mark to round at the leeward gate. In the interests of slowing her rival down, Artemis hung on the rounding, parallel to the wind, with her bow at the mark, for just long enough to ensure that Caixa Galicia had to make a long and ungainly rounding, sailing wide around both the full length of Artemis and the mark. One up to Coutts!

The diagram shows a very rough sketch of the leeward gate situation.

And so it went on all week. Artemis gradually extended her lead, enjoying the stronger breezes more than her rival, but also winning the light airs, double-point scoring, coastal race, to have a comfortable point margin going into the final day’s racing. Relaxing her guard somewhat on the final day, she finished 8 points clear of Caixa Galicia overall.

At the end of the regatta, the Mean Machine Valle Romano crew kept their record of winning the final race at every venue in the 2007 Breitling MedCup. Approaching the windward mark for the first time, with CxG Corporacion Caixa Galicia to weather of Mean Machine Valle Romano, Cristabella tacked and tucked in beneath Mean Machine Valle Romano to leeward.

Mean Machine Valle Romano put the squeeze on Caixa Galicia, forcing them to fall back, while, themselves, rounding the windward mark outside Cristabella.

After another lap of the windward/leeward course Mean Machine Valle Romano had established themselves in the lead, ahead of Caixa Galicia, and extended slightly downwind to cross the line first.

Coming into harbour rather later than her rivals after the final race, Artemis was greeted by applause from the whole fleet, in a gesture of good sportsmanship. The team then relaxed with beers onboard, before the official dockside handover of champagne.

The champagne was initially sprayed on owner/driver Tornqvist, who then turned on the photographers with a bottle himself!

The cameras did not record that, after a “debate” amongst the crew on the foredeck, several members of the Artemis team took (fairly elegant) dives into the briny. The basis for the decision as to who got wet and who didn’t is not known at time of writing...

Neighbours of the Kiwi/international, Swedish-registered, Artemis crew, the Dutch/Kiwi/international team on Mean Machine Valle Romano, who had won the MedCup in 2006, applauded Artemis again at the dockside ceremony.

Many members of Team New Zealand – past and present – were on both crews. However, the Dutch origins of Peter de Ridder’s Spanish-sponsored, Monacan-registered, Mean Machine Valle Romano team are clearly to be seen in the green bottles that many members of the team are holding in the team photo below.

The Mean Machine Valle Romano team was chasing boatspeed this year, as the 2007 TPs are definitely quicker. Most developments in the TP52s have been with the design and construction of the boats themselves. The December 2007 issue of Australian Sailing will carry a fuller account of this.

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