Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Valle Romano Mean Machine extend lead at Portugal Trophy

[Source: Breitling Medcup] A fifth from a tricky first race today followed by their third victory from five starts ensures that Peter de Ridder and his Valle Romano Mean Machine crew extend their overall lead at the Breitling MedCup TP52's Circuit's Portugal Trophy off Portimao to ten points.

After the big winds of yesterday the series' fourth race started after a long wait for a sea breeze to develop. When it did it produced a demanding race track which challenged afterguards to balance the benefit of more breeze on the left side of the course against the favoured wind shift on the right side.

Russell Coutts set up Artemis well from a strong start near the middle of the line and lead Caixa Galicia around the first windward turn, but as Caixa Galicia erred further offshore on the downwind leg they were able to get their bow in front near the bottom of the run, to seize the advantage of the left hand gate mark with that the right side of the course.

With John Kostecki calling tactics for helm Roberto Bermudez de Castro, Caixa Galicia extended to win by 37 seconds from Artemis, with Tau Ceramica Andalucia clinging on to third place, their first podium finish this season.

As the conflicting breezes then fought for supremacy another long delay ensued and it was 1720hrs before the second contest of the day was started in a breeze which carried many of the hallmarks of yesterday's brisk NW'ly.

With the winds at 14-16 knots and 90 percent of the fleet stacking hard to win the one prime committee boat slot on the start line, it was the pink flamed bow of Valle Romano Mean Machine which broke first.

Helm De Ridder tacked smartly around the boat to win the regular advantage on the right side of the track.

Their laylines on both windward legs were pinpoint but Valle Romano was able to extend most on the downwind legs, leading Jose Cusi's Bribon across the finish line by 1 minute and 14 seconds, while John Cook's Cristabella finished third.

Such consistency proved elusive for both Artemis and Caixa Galicia. Artemis tangled with Ricardo Simoneschi's Anonimo early on the first beat and had to take a penalty.

With so few passing lanes they finished 13th while Caixa Galicia had to make a big, last minute tack and dip, taking many sterns to find a space at the first windward mark, fared two places better than Coutts and crew.

De Ridder's defending champions now lie ten points clear going into tomorrow's double points coastal race.

"To be honest we were as pleased with our fifth today as our win." Admitted Ray Davies, Valle Romano Mean Machine's tactician,

"We were quite deep early on in that one so a fifth from that is important. Overall we are really happy. We made a great start to the second race, on what felt like quite a short, crowded start line. We decided to fight for the committee boat end and won it and then it was pretty much plain sailing from there. The most important thing on such a start is not to get above the lay-line to the boat and to beware of dirty air and losing speed, so Peter did a great job. We played it a little conservative and took a tack back to the fleet."

"A ten points lead is nice but it is good that we are pulling back points to catch up on the leaders. I think we are sailing better than Palma and Breitling. We have made some changes to the keel and have refined the way we sheet the jibs a bit, more like the new boats and I think that has all helped. This is such a great venue. It has so much going on all the time it is incredible. You have the sea breeze and then the sea breeze up on the west coast of Portugal fighting to break through, so it is very dynamic."

"In the first race we just barely got the advantage as we came to the leeward gate, but that just allowed us to choose and get the right side of the course and stretch a bit" Recalled John Kostecki.

" We didn't get the starboard layline at the top of the beat," confirmed Caixa's helm Bermudez, "one option was to risk a gap behind Mutua. We preferred not to risk it and so we tacked and went behind almost half the fleet. It wasn't a penalty turn we just didn't lay the line to be able to round the mark and when that happens and the fleet all comes in so close together you have the possible problem of being protested. We are happy with our result still overall but we still have to put our foot down as the rest of the fleet are catching on us."



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