Monday, 15 June 2009

Audi MedCup: Kiwis' Marseille Magic; Roma Numero Uno

Emirates Team Zealand win their first Audi MedCup Circuit Regatta comprehensively while Roma Mk 2 strike GP42 gold.

Emirates Team New Zealand celebrate victory in the TP52s in Marseille. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Emerging with a sixth from a scrappy, difficult final race which was contested in conflicting breezes Emirates Team New Zealand clinched the Marseille Trophy by 14 points, the biggest regatta winning margin on the Audi MedCup Circuit since Mean Machine won in Portimao in 2007.

Winning four races and never finishing worse than sixth in the ten races here, the Kiwi team skippered by Dean Barker (NZL) with past MedCup winner Ray Davies (NZL) as tactician move 16 points clear at the head of the Audi MedCup TP52 Series standings ahead of defending Circuit champions Quantum Racing (USA).

“It feels better here than losing in Alicante.” Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton deadpanned, “And regattas always feel better a couple of days later, and winning is always just a relief that you did not lose. It is really is nothing more than that.”

In the Audi MedCup GP42 Series a third in the final race ensured that the team on Roma Mk2 skippered by Paulo Cian (ITA) leave France with the Marseille Trophy and head for their native Italy with a lead of four points over Alicante Trophy winners Islas Canarias Peurto Calero on the Audi MedCup Circuit GP42 Series standings

Emirates Team New Zealand: winners of the TP52 Marseille Trophy. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

Four winning guns for Emirates Team New Zealand were supported by a consistent string of scores, reflecting as much their fortitude as a team, able to come back better from their occasional visits to the lower depths of the fleet. Typical of that, they pulled back to sixth today from eighth in a final race which was afflicted by two very different, breezes tussling for supremacy on either side of the course.

But in their de-brief the Kiwi circuit leaders will consider that their current leading margin belies how close the racing has been here, and in Alicante and reflects Quantum Racing’s two premature starts, and third placed Matador’s headfoil failure in the coastal race. They have no room for complacency.

Race 10, the final in Marseille
Portugal’s Bigamist staged a remarkable come-from-behind victory with two incredible downwind legs to take their second race win this season. Pedro Mendonca’s crew lie fifth overall on the TP52 Series and finished fourth overall in the regatta.
The Portuguese team from Cascais had to make a penalty turn at the first windward mark after they tacked on the bow of Cristabella (GBR). They rounded the offset mark a distant last but recognised the stronger breeze on the left, contrasting with the collapse on the right, and rounded the leeward turn in fifth. The same tactic on the second run allowed them to pip Pisco Sour (CHI) to win in the final 200 metres of the race.

The crew of Roma celebrate winning the GP42 races in Marseille. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

GP42 Series: Islas Canarias wins the battle, but Roma wins the war
In today’s final day of racing in the GP42 Series, a large 8-point spread between series leader Roma 2 (ITA) and runner-up Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) was going to make it hard for the Italian team to lose the regatta. There would have to have been two races with Roma getting last place and Canarias first place in both for Roma to lose.

And as unlikely as that would have seemed, at the bottom gate rounding of today’s first race that’s precisely what was happening, as a huge hole in the wind accompanied by a significant shift in direction completely reshuffled the positions in this highly-competitive fleet. Caser-Endesa (ESP), being last around the top mark having been over early at the start, got vaulted into vying for the lead with Canarias, and Roma got shot out the back to having to fight Swing for fifth.

Yet despite this and yet another big shift and drop in pressure on the last run to the finish, Canarias kept their cool, covered the fleet, and coasted to their third win in the series. Roma was able to dig back to third but not before nearly getting rolled by Tourismo Madrid (ESP) in the final few metres of this strange race.

Turns out that third was enough to seal the deal for Roma, as even a last place in any second race would go to them in the tie break, having won more races than anyone else. So when race managers could not set a course for Race 2 due to the irregular breeze, the outcome was a fait accompli, and Roma wins her first GP42 Series stage in the Audi MedCup.

TP52 race start on Day 5 of the Marseille Trophy, 14/6/2009. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

Quotes of the day:

Grant Dalton, CEO and mast-man Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“I think all the teams get better little bit by little bit. We made some changes after Alicante and I think the boat is going a little faster. We never really felt like we had an edge, but we never felt particularly uncomfortable. We made some changes to the way we sail it. The moding is really huge, learning how to keep a lane is so important. We got spat in that last race. So that is something we keep working on.

“Marseille has always been good to me and to us. The first regatta of the America’s Cup we came second here after, if you like, the debacle of 03, that was good, The Race was good, and now this. I have an affection for this place, I love it here and there should be more regattas in France.”

Morgan Larson (USA), Tactician Quantum Racing (USA):
“It has been a very challenging place. As a team we sailed a good event. Starting that has been a strength in the past has let us down a little at the beginning, but by the end Terry and our new bowman Dave Tank and Robert Hopkins, who has sailed one regatta with us this season, it takes time for the helmsman, bowman and navigator to get that gel. And I feel like they have got it.

“I don’t think we have much to do to catch Team New Zealand. They have sailed a little bit smarter and made a little better comebacks. They are sailing the boat quite well but there is not much in it. I think after the controversy of yesterday, the guys were hungry.”

Afonso Domingos (POR) skipper-helmsman Bigamist 7 (POR):
“It is really good for all the crew. The fleet is so competitive and if we do the right thing we can do well and we are able to finish on the top.

“ I think it is possible to go higher than we are, but it is a pressure to do the right thing. We need to focus to see how we start and do the right things.

“ Yes we are ahead of where we expected to be. That is partly to do with the conditions, but also the team we have from previous years.

“ And the new boat, we have done nothing to it. We changed the sails with some new spinnakers. Last year it was a good boat did not win any regattas.”

Matias Picornell (ESP), navigator on Roma Mk 2 (ITA):
“Today we have tried to be better on the arrivals, we are 4 points ahead of Islas, we've done a regatta with lots of shifts today and pressure changes and they took three points so they've recovered a bit, they've done very well, but we have to keep on sailing this way, just not repeating the mistake we did with Airis the last day in Alicante.”

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Marseille Trophy

TP52 Series
Overall (10 races)
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 1+3+1+2+1+2+4,5+6+1+6= 27.5 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA), 8+5+2+6+3+1+1,5+3+8+4= 41,5 points
3. Matador (ARG), 2+6+4+1+2+5+16,5+4+4+3= 47,5 points
4. Bigamist (POR), 5+4+6+3+10+4+10,5+2+10+1= 55,5 points
5. Bribón (ESP), 6+1+5+10+4+8+7,5+5+11+5= 62,5 points

GP42 Series
Overall (9 races)
1. Roma (ITA), 1+2+1+3+1+2+1+3+3= 17 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 2+1+3+1+5+4+4+2+1= 23 points
3. Caser-Endesa (ESP), 3+3+4+5+2+1+3+4+2= 27 points
4. Turismo Madrid (ESP), 4+4+2+4+3+3+6+5+4= 35 points
5. Airis (ITA), 5+7(DNF)+7(DNF)+2+4+5+2+1+5= 38 points

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Overall (after Alicante and Marseille)

TP52 Series
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 38+27,5= 65.5 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA), 40+41,5= 81,5 points
3. Matador (ARG), 36+47,5= 83,5 points
4. Artemis (SWE), 37+62,5= 99,5 points
5. Bigamist (POR), 46+55,5= 101,5 points

GP42 Series
1. Roma (ITA), 22+17= 39 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 20+23= 43 points
3. Airis (ITA), 21+38= 59 points
4. Caser-Endesa (ESP), 33+27= 60 points
5. Turismo Madrid (ESP), 35+35= 70 points

Audi MedCup

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