Artemis on the verge of overall victory
[Source: Breitling Medcup] Victory in both stages of today's 23 mile coastal race around the Port Cros island off Hyères leaves Torbjorn Tornqvist's Artemis on the verge of winning the overall 2007 Breitling MedCup Trophy.
With a lead of 17 points in the 15 boat fleet and up to two windward leeward races scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) Artemis need only a day of modest performances to secure the title for the Artemis crew and for skipper Russell Coutts in his third year on the circuit.
Artemis lead their nearest rivals Caixa Galicia around the windward mark after the 2.5 mile opening beat.
In five knots of easterly breeze with Juan Vila as navigator and Coutts calling the shots, Artemis came in on a perfect lay-line to the first turn, while Caixa Galicia had to tack to lay and to stay ahead of Patches and Stay Calm. From there the two leaders remained unchallenged on a long and, at times, slow parade around the beautiful Porquerolle island.
After a procession under Code sails and Gennakers up the outside of the island Artemis lead Caixa Galicia through the scoring gate at the west tip of the island, off Point Saint Anne. As a cloud sucked away the wind for the chasing pack, the leading duo escaped before the breeze started its first collapsing act.
While Artemis and Caixa Galicia disappeared towards the final turn, Vasco Vascotto and the crew of Mutua Madrilena took two places when they gybed off to gain more breeze, and when the fickle wind disappeared completely on the final reach to the finish, they and Anonimo were best placed to be gain as the easterly returned for one final rally.
Ricardo Simoneschi's Anonimo rose from ninth to fourth between the scoring gate and the finish, while Mutua Madrilena gained from seventh to third.
In the quest for third overall on the circuit, consistency was key for Ian Walker and the crew of Patches and a fourth followed by a painful and hard earned fifth – emerging from a final park up having lost only Anonimo and Patches.
Their fourth and fifth, to Bribon's eighth and ninth and Vallé Romano Mean Machine 12th and 13th leaves them to protect a 24 points cushion on the final day to be sure of third overall for the season.
Caixa Galicia's second today regains their second in this Hyères Trophy regatta, but while Artemis as 17 points clear at the top of the event standings, only four points separate Caixa Galicia in second, Patches in third and Mutua Madrilena in fourth.
"It was a great race for us today." Comments Artemis owner and helm Torbjorn Tornqvist, " We did everything right except the start which was poor, we were blocked on the line but could tack away and we found free wind and seemed to gain, we seemed to have the speed today, manoeuvring was right and then it was smooth sailing and what can I say? It was one of those days. Of course we are happy where we are and this was the best outcome but CXG was very close a few boat lengths behind us for most of the race. They are a formidable crew, its not over for sure."
" We thought we had edge in the strong wind but even in the light wind with our upwind code zero it looked like we were gaining on them even in the light. I think they we have gone better and better as things have been progressing all around us in the series. I think we have a sail programme which has improved over the course, the team is professional when it matters. I think it is the concept which works for us, and the boat- we handle it reasonably well."
Robert Hopkins, CxG's navigator summarised:
" Artemis is having a great week and has out-sailed us. They have beaten us in every race, we are trying our best. It was a fun day for the navigators, I think on CXG we saw everything that was going to happen except for a crazy left shift on the second beat, we sort of anticipated but so did Artemis and they were there every time, and then we had just good luck on the run. We stretched out from the rest of the fleet as they got caught under a cloud in a calm spot behind us and we sailed just at the leading edge of pressure, tripling our lead there. It was a relaxing race for us, well ahead of us and basically a parade following the other guys. It looks like we are back in second in the regatta, it was fun today. Sunny day and 23.4 miles, as long as the Americas Cup races used to be twenty years ago! We went around the island last night to have a look at it and it a pretty place."