Sunday, 17 May 2009

Audi MedCup: Artemis Leads TP52 Series; Aris on Top of GP42 Series

Two second places and a first proves Artemis are one of the form teams in the TP52 Series as they lead into the final day. Airis leads the GP42 Series.

Artemis, chased by Emirates Team New Zealand, in the TP52 racing off Alicante. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

After three more windward-leeward contests in a gentler sea breeze today off Alicante an exciting final Sunday showdown is now in prospect with the City of Alicante Trophy at stake as only three points separates the top four TP52 Series boats on the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit. In the GP42 Series the Italian boat Airis’leads by three points.

In the gentler conditions Torbjorn Tornqvist’s new Artemis was the standout performer in the TP52 Series today bettering back-to-back second places when they won the third race of the day, to vault six places up the leaderboard sharing the same points aggregate as Emirates Team New Zealand.

The tight knit New Zealand team started their day well when they won the first race but a less than glamorous first beat in Race 7 saw them get a taste of life in the nether regions of the fleet. But as much as their first race victory of the season it is their ability to pull back a couple of places for a tenth that ensures they could rightfully claim joint tenancy at the top with Artemis.

Emirates Team New Zealand got the better of their duel with Artemis in the first race when they held on longer to the right of the first downwind. The early stages tested the mettle of Quantum Racing who rounded the windward mark down in tenth, but the current champions dug deep for a useful fifth.

In the second race it was the turn of the Portuguese crew on Bigamist 7, long standing competitors on the Circuit, to take their first ever MedCup Circuit winning gun. The team from Lisbon and Cascais, which numbers as many amateurs aboard as they have professionals, not only proved the value of their winter training at home on their Atlantic waters and the speed they are getting from their new boat – the former Platoon powered by Team Germany – but they remained cool and unflustered, holding their nerves to win Race 6 from Artemis.

Bribon looked to be well set to win the final race of the day when Artemis managed to get inside them near the top end of the second beat, getting a left hand windshift and a little extra wind pressure and that was enough to seal the first winning gun with his new Artemis for the Swedish owner-helm Tornqvist.

Quantum Racing remained steadily consistent concentrating on sailing safely and conservatively to post a 5,6.7 to leave them only one point off in third while Matador stayed largely under the radar today – never great but never terrible – to go into the final day with a deficit of only three points on the overall lead in the TP52 Series.

Airis lead the GP42 Series
While yesterday Filippo Faruffini’s Roma 2, helmed by Paolo Cian (ITA) looked as though they might dominate the GP42 Series in their MedCup debut, what a difference a day makes, as a new leader has emerged and others in this class have started taking turns in the front of the pack.

Roberto Monti’s Airis, helmed by Cameron Appleton (NZL), is now three points clear in the lead, having replicated Roma’s 1-2-1 scorecard yesterday. The one race Airis lost was to a team that has shown a meteoric rise in potential, going from being in last place yesterday to winning their first race of the season today. Keisuke Suzuki’s Swing got off a clean pin-end start, found pressure on the left, crossed the fleet among the leaders, and then vaulted from third to first on the first downwind run. But then the hard part was then covering the fleet in the tricky conditions, which this Osaka-based team did masterfully.

They looked to do the same in the light-air third race, but then tragedy struck: after tacking to port to try and cross their rivals, the port bow pulpit suddenly broke, slackening the lifelines and causing two crewmembers to fall into the water. Suzuki immediately steered the boat upright to help retrieve the two crew, the team dropped their jib, and then retired form the race when it became clear that without a secure lifeline they could not continue. But tactician Tatsuya Wakinaga (JPN) said they would likely be ready to return tomorrow.

Another team that struggled yesterday but showed marked improvement today was Jose Maria van der Ploeg’s (ESP) Tourismo Madrid, who were always among the leaders after the first windward leg but then couldn’t quite hold that position towards the finish. Joining this Olympic Gold medalist owner/helmsman is another Spanish Olympic Finn medalist, Rafael Trujillo.

Quotes of the day
Russell Coutts (NZL), tactician Artemis (SWE):

“It was a lighter wind than yesterday and we got some nice breaks. We did not do anything badly wrong. We never quite got it spot on but we were generally OK. We got through Bribon when we got a little bit more breeze, pressure was the key there. The wind was very shifty out there, there were big shifts.

"The boat is going really well upwind but I think we have got a little bit of work to do downwind, especially with the sails. The Code 1 gennaker in particular but generally we are very happy with a really nice boat."

Greg Gendell (USA), trimmer, Quantum Racing (USA):
“We tried to sail very conservatively but at the same time take our opportunities as they came to us. It is typical MedCup though, you really have to fight for every point. The boat with the fewest points wins... The last run of the last race we rounded the top mark third and four boats passed us on the run, which was not good.”

Simon Fry (GBR), trimmer, Matador (ARG):
“Being honest, the way we sailed today we are lucky to be just three points off the lead going in to the final day.”

Ray Davies, (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand:
“All in all the day was really good for us to be going into the last day on equal points with the lead, but we didn't sail well in the last race. We we had a tough line off the start line and we tried to tack and clear ourselves, and then we got bounced a couple of times. We were last on the stage. We managed to pass a couple of boats but when you are back in the fleet and the wind is very light it's pretty difficult.”

Cameron Appleton, helmsman of Airis:
“We had a great day in gaining seven points in our three races. We worked hard in improving in three areas today - trimming, team work, and communication - so we tried to just stay away from the others and focus on our speed. I reckon our gain was another 5% in performance and a great start for building out teamwork for the season.”

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
City of Alicante Trophy

TP52 Series
Provisional standings after 7 races:
1. Artemis (SWE) 7,2,9,7,2,2,1=30 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 4,4,6,2,1,3,10=30 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA) 5,1,3,4,5,6,7=31 points
4. Matador (ARG) 2,5,1,8,7,5,5=33 points
5. Bigamist (POR) 3,12,5,5,9,1,4=39 points

GP42 Series
Provisional standings after 6 races:
1. Airis (ITA) 2,3,3,1,2,1=12 points
2. Roma (ITA) 1,1,2,3,5,3=15 points
3. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) 3,2,1,2,4,5=17 points
4. Caser-Endesa (ESP) 4,4,4,6,6,2=26 points
5. Turismo Marid (ESP) 6,5,5,4,3,4=27 points

Audi MedCup

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