Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Audi MedCup: Great Expectations

Ray Davies looks back to Alicante and forward to some stronger winds on the Rade Sud for the Marseille Trophy.

Emirates Team New Zealand competing in the Audi MedCup 2009. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

For Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), their debut as a team in Alicante was perhaps a little bitter-sweet. They finished their first regatta with the new Botin Carkeek designed NZL-380 (numbered after Emirates’ flagship Airbus 380) in third place, just two points off the overall lead, but they had overall victory within their scope and let it slip on the final race.

Emirates Team New Zealand’s tactician Ray Davies (NZL), confirms that changes to the boat and rig since Alicante have been small. With their powerful new TP52 they would welcome some stronger winds here:

“ We have a new main which you would really find hard to pick a difference between the last, one, very small modifications to the last design, really. And today we had good breeze, 14-15 knots at times and we felt that the boat was going well, especially downwind. There is a lot of technique involved.” Davies confirms.

Of what they were looking at during their practice here he says:
“ Downwind technique, so much is about playing the waves and big pumping. You have to work them really hard, and then once you are on the wave there are such big gains to be had. It is deciding what windspeed you can really put the bow up and get the boat really ‘rumbling’ in, if you do it too long in the light air it is really just working that balance.

“ And we did a little bit of starting practice, it is always good to get your ‘eye’ back in, especially with a little more breeze like there is here. The last regatta in Alicante, was quite ‘soft’.”

Marseille dealt some spectacular Mistral conditions last year, and hopes are high that the strong winds will prevail for at least some of the time this week:
“ The forecast for here looks like there should be good breeze for Wednesday, Thursday and maybe Friday.” Reports Davies, “ All bets are off for the weekend, possibly a bit softer. It would be nice to see a little more breeze and it these boats are a lot of fun when you get up into 20 knots plus. Last year Marseille was incredible and we would like to see more of that .”

Of what the team looked at specifically after the Alicante result, he says:
“Our de-brief after Alicante was good. We definitely went there looking to learn as much as we could about the boat, and to keep in touch. It would have been nice to win the regatta, but we were pretty happy to be right in there and finish just two points off the lead. It shows that is just going to be so close this year, and it is just a case of trying to minimise the bad races, as always.

“ We were in pretty good shape at one stage in that last race, and we talked about just being conservative and holding this position, but it is tricky when the breeze gets soft, the breeze can get taken away from you pretty quickly. We had a first on that day as well and so you need to just try and keep the high average as well. So that is what came out of the de-brief: try and keep the thirds and fourths.”

Other than the new mainsail, the work to NZL 380 has been a matter of finesse and small details:
“ No real changes to the boat.” He says, “ We just worked on the bottom of the boat, faired the bottom a little better, tidied up the appendages a little more, we were a little bit pressed to have them perfect before the first regatta but they are a little better now."

And of the high expectaions in their native New Zealand, he suggests:
"I think most Kiwis back home expect Team New Zealand to win everything they do. That is quite a high expectation! But we have quite high expectations of ourselves as well, but most of the sailors back home know that that was a good result, going to your first regatta and to be right there on the pace with the leaders, it’s quite pleasing.”

Audi MedCup

No comments: