Friday, July 20, 2007

Caixa Galicia still ahead at Breitling Regatta but Artemis closes in

A first and a fourth today on the Bay of Palma was enough for Vicente Tirado’s Caixa Galicia to move 14 points clear in the Regata Breitling-Illes Balears, proving that they are closest to being the most complete TP52 package at the moment.

But, as Eamon Conneely’s Patches proved today, margins can be lost quickly and summarily in this white-hot 24 boat fleet. Wrong decisions and choices, that may seem small at the time, are magnified by the changing conditions, and in the no-discard regatta such losses can prove terminal.

The John Kostecki and Roberto Bermudez de Castro partnership is the strongest of the moment, one which transformed a modest start and then a visibly poor start into solid first windward legs which were the passport to their success today.

In contrast Patches slipped from second overall, going into these two windward-leeward races, to fifth due to a sucker punch 22nd in the second race.

“In such a good fleet as this unfortunately you get what you deserve. We just did not sail very well.” Admitted Patches’ trimmer Simon Fry, current Etchells 22 world champion crew, honestly, “We went for a small left shift when we were under Platoon after the start of the second race and that step to the left was wrong. We tried something on the last run then and it really did not work.”

Most consistent for the day, though, was Russell Coutts and the star-studded crew of Artemis. With owner Torbjorn Tornqvist steering Artemis scored a second then a first to haul themselves up from fourth to second overall, five points ahead of Peter de Ridder’s Valle Romano Mean Machine.

Of the two contests the first enjoyed the best breeze, building from nine to 11 knots, with the first ranks of white horses flecking the waters of the Bay of Palma, but the second was contested in a steadily dying breeze which brought a serious shift on the final run as the sea-breeze all but expired.

Race officer Peter Reggio then chose not to prolong the agony as the fleet headed homewards after two of the three planned races.

Caixa Galicia’s tactician John Kostekci, skipper of the 2008-9 Ericsson Racing Team Volvo campaign, summarised: “Both starts were OK but I think that we were going pretty fast, and we had a good first beat which got us into the top group both times.”

Their good speed is attributable to number of combined factors:

“ It’s down to hard work, design from last year, sail development, Juan Meseguer has been doing a really nice job on our sail design, we have a coach here who has been helping us with everything – including our speed- but we have good helmsmen, we have good trimmers, so it is a package deal.” Says Kostecki,

“ The fleet has come on a lot. The game is a high level. I was talking to Peter de Ridder just now and he was saying that he thought he had a small advantage last year there is not a whole lot in it.”

“ I would hope we have a small advantage here, but you know we are sailing the boat well. We did a regatta last week and that really helped us out a lot. We started out at a low level and we have been really able to bring the game up.

This is the third year I have been sailing with Caixa, not full time, but I did two regattas with the boat last year and two the year previous with this group.”

“ I think that Chuny and I are a good pair because he is a great helmsman, he doesn’t think too much about tactics and I am able to call the tactics.”

“ It was probably November last year when I decided I would go with them. I know this group and they are a lot fun and they are good sailors. If they weren’t a fun group to be with then I would not be with them, my experience at BMW Oracle taught me that. I am here for fun and you can do that with this group.”

“ We will make no big changes for tomorrow. You have to keep pushing, you can’t change and can’t get conservative. If you get conservative then you are behind.”

Almost in spite of having pledged only modest ambitions, Terry Hutchinson is working a measure of magic with Windquest, owner Doug de Vos steering the former Warpath to lie fourth overall, a point a clear of Patches.

“We are averaging an eighth at the moment. We had a great comeback. A couple of good things went our way, we did not get tacked on when we could have, we got a couple of good shifts. We had to do a penalty turn at the top mark at the top of the first mark in that (second) race but then we sailed a very good run and had a good mark rounding, a good second beat when nobody tacked on us and then jagged a good shift on the run. But I it was pretty impressive watching Caixa Galicia today, they are sailing pretty well. There is no reason not to be happy, we are just slowly chipping away at it. Obviously there is still a lot of racing to go.”



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