Friday, July 20, 2007

Caixa Galicia leads Breitling Regatta after two wins on first day

Vicente Tirado's Caixa Galicia leads the Regatta Breitling Illes Balearia after three difficult races in light sea breeze conditions on the Bay of Palma, out from Puerto Portals today.

With Roberto Bermudez de Castro steering and John Kostecki calling the tactics, the new Botin Carkeek design showed pace across the wind range, between 5-11 knots, but it was sharp starting and equally acute tactics which gave Caixa Galicia back to back wins from the first two races and a solid fourth to lead the 24 boat regatta by three points from Eamon Conneely's Irish flagged Patches.

Patches 2,4,3 for the day keeps them five points clear of Peter de Ridder's Valle Romano Mean Machine which won the third race today.

The breeze built to just on 10 knots for the second race and faded for the third race, late in the day, when it became more unsettled and fickle.

"The key today was not falling off in the starts and we were good in at least two of three. To get in front early was to let the tactician get into the race and do their thing as early as possible. Getting clear air early was important and we managed to do that in the first race, especially." Explained Bermudez de Castro.

Caixa and Torbjorn Torqvist's Artemis had a minor collision during a crossing in the middle of the second race and both boats are in the yard this evening for repairs.

"It was a small glancing collision hitting one corner of the starboard side of their bow. It couldn't be avoided especially with such a numerous fleet with all the boats wanting to push as hard as possible, and this is what happens. The important thing is to recognise the mistake. From here onwards it is difficult to say because it is still early days. There is still a lot of racing to be done; a lot can happen and there are some very good people taking part." Said the Caixa Galicia helm.

The Caixa Galicia crew were at their most impressive in the first race. Bigamist forced their way inside the black boat at the windward mark but promptly took their penalty. From there on in Kostecki nailed the windshifts and the crew did a fine job of maximising speed in the streaky conditions to win by a comfortable 1 minute and 25 seconds ahead of Patches.

After a 13th in the first race Artemis, with Russell Coutts making the tactical calls for owner-helm Torqvist, chased Caixa Galicia across the finish line in the second race before going on to a seventh in Race 3 to lie fourth overall.

With skipper Ian Walker on tactics and Tim Powell now well established on the helm of Patches, the Reichel Pugh design proved quick across the wind range, but they too were among the most consistent starters.
"It is almost like 'any start will do' as long as you are going fast and can get a good lane quickly." Reports Patches skipper Ian Walker drily, "And at the end of a day it is just relief that prevails. It is great racing but you can't make mistakes on the start line. It was very tricky. Artemis and Caixa are clearly quick across the wind range, but I was pleased that we were too, which is good because it was quite streaky. You do need to be in the top few at the windward mark because it is so difficult to make gains if you are in the fleet. Mean Machine did well to get up to sixth in the second race." He continued.

"It was great racing and especially getting in three races today was a great way to start the regatta." Said Patches' owner Conneely.



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