Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stay Calm and Patches have excellent day while Artemis keeps lead at Hyères Trophy

[Source: Breitling Medcup] A day of consistency, consolidation and concentration was enough for Russell Coutts and the crew of Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis to increase their grip on the overall Breitling MedCup Circuit title in brisk easterly winds on the Bay of Hyères.

Although the Swedish flagged Judel-Vrolijk design has not won a regatta yet this season, their main focus today was on building their margin over Caixa Galicia, their nearest rivals for the overall 2007 title.

A third and a fifth to Caixa Galicia’s fourth and seventh is insight enough to the Artemis agenda, which they completed comfortably.

Once again there was little that Roberto Bermudez de Castro and his team aboard the black hulled Botin & Carkeek design Caixa Galicia could do to puncture the supremacy of Artemis in the 15-21 knot, onshore breeze which kicks up a nasty choppy swell over the shallow waters of the bay, the day belonged to the English and the Irish.

Stuart Robinson’s British boat Stay Calm was the top scorer for the day with a second and first, to Eamon Conneely’s Patches which won the first race and then took fourth in the second windward-leeward. Stay Calm came out looking to atone for an end-of-day disqualification on Wednesday in the protest room at the hands of the their compatriots on Cristabella. In the muscular breezes skipper Adrian Stead kept the Artemis sister-ship in clear lanes of breeze while owner-helm Robinson made two quick starts.

They lead the first race but broached momentarily in a gust half way down the first downwind, letting through the Irish boat, which has round the world racer Tim Powell steering and skipper Ian Walker on tactics.

For both of the 2007 build boats it was their first race wins of the season.

Stay Calm’s aggregate three points from the day brought them back to within three points of the second place that they held prior to Wednesday’s fall from grace.

And Patches five points strengthened their position in third overall for the season’s standings, giving them 16 points clear on the current Breitling MedCup champions Valle Romano Mean Machine in fourth.

On the protests which cost Stay Calm their chance of winning the Copa del Rey last month, and then again Wednesday, Stead is resolute:

“To win at this level you have to push your luck at times. Against Cristabella we did a bad gybe and just parked a little and they closed us down quicker. It was a port – starboard.” He recalls, “One thing we are seeing in this fleet is that it is a very harsh fleet. You don’t expect any leniency and would not give any. At Breitling we pushed it a little too far because we wanted to win the regatta. That is part of the game we play.”

Of their success today, Stead, who has now won the Farr 40 world title three times, says: “It is very different conditions here to Portimao with this chop. It has taken us a while to get used to the chop. It is not oversteering, keeping the boat well balanced so there is some feel on the helm, just persevering.”

Vicente Tirado, Caixa Galicia’s owner remains hopeful that the lighter conditions expected for the concluding races of the season may still provide them with opportunities to redress the balance, but again he acknowledges the work Artemis are doing:

“Artemis really is doing a very good job here, better than us. In each race they are chipping away at us little by little, but we are going to fight until the very end. If in the next race they win by fifteen points then they will have beaten us!”

“ In the meantime we are fighting, still believe in ourselves and are working hard to see if tomorrow and the day after when there should be less wind according to the prediction (more suitable for our boat) we can give it a good shot. But it is proving very, very, very tough. They are simply sailing better than us. We don’t know what it is. When a mistake is made sometimes its just bad luck, you get to the start late or another boat tacks in your face, like what happened today.

We did a good job in the second start and in fact we managed to shake off Artemis who had to head off to the right, but later we couldn’t keep control of the situation. We are still confident, but if they (Artemis) keep winning races at the level that they are now, then they will be the fair winners and we won’t have anything to say in the matter.

I don’t actually like the coastal races particularly, but they are usually quite decisive. The result between the two marks is not normally that different, and it is quite difficult to overtake once the coastal is underway. This year we haven’t had particularly good results in the coastal races but we will have to see what happens tomorrow. There is no obvious reason for us not to do well so it doesn’t mean that we can’t go out and get a good one to finish the season on a good note.”

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