Two bullets for TP52 Artemis on second day of Hyères Trophy
[Source: Breitling Medcup] Artemis eased 11 points clear at the top of the Hyeres Trophy leaderboard and 12 points ahead on the 2007 Breitling MedCup standings after a fabulous three race day on the Bay of Hyères in brisk easterly winds and pleasant late summer sunshine.
With owner Torbjorn Tornqvist on the tiller of the 2007 Judel Vrolijk design and Russell Coutts making the tactical calls Artemis had her full afterburners lit on the spectacular downwind legs and was able to compose two back-to-back wins after an opening seventh today.
In the duel for the overall 2007 title Artemis' team of 'galacticos' scarcely put a foot wrong over the three windward leewards. In the first race they took the opportunity to bounce their nearest rivals, Vicente Tirado's Caixa Galicia down the fleet. Caixa Galicia's 8,2,7 for the day dropped them to fourth overall in the regatta.
In windspeeds which topped 22-23 knots and a short, steep Mediterranean chop there was sad, premature end to the regatta and the Breitling MedCup season for Alberto Roemmers' Copa del Rey winning Siemens Matador.
After a second and a third from the first two races it was early on the first beat of the day's final race when their rig inexplicably broke into three pieces.
Artemis have a noted speed edge upwind but Coutts was able to build their wins from modest starts on both of the latter contests.
From being buried below four or five boats at the start of the third race, because the pack was so tightly formed on the line Artemis was very quickly able to duck sterns and pop out on the weather flank of the pack, before winding their speed up.
Although Jose Cusi's Bribon won the first race quite comfortably, with Bouwe Bekking steering and Ross MacDonald calling tactics, they struggled badly in the second race and could only make 12th place.
Twice Artemis rose to triumph on the final run to the finish.
In the second race they overturned a 30seconds deficit to pass both Caixa Galicia and Siemens to win by 13seconds on the final, breeze sprint, and then in the third race only pipped Stuart Robinson's Judel-Vrolijk sistership Stay Calm on the finish line to win take their fourth winning gun of the regatta by just one second.
In the end Stay Calm's victory had a hollow ring to it.
After climbing to a provisional second on the leaderboard, a protest from their compatriots on Cristabella, saw them disqualified from Race , dropping to sixth overall. Artemis' winning flourish gives them a comfortable cushion.
"It's good to be first." Reported Coutts with a wry grin, "Our game plan was to try to sail clean and not take any risks. In the first race we got mixed up with a few situations that we really did not want to be in, but really for us it was just important to beat Caixa Galicia in each race. Neither of our second two starts were that great but we were able to escape. In the third we hardly had to dip at all because the fleet was so tightly bunched and so we probably only lost a boat length. Usually in this fleet you do tend to find one or two back or late on the line, so we were quite lucky there."
Of owner-driver Tornqvist, who is only in the first season in the TP52 class, and his second racing seriously, he is objective in his praise:
"He is just a very competitive guy and is really loving this. I am pretty hard on him all the time, that is the way he wants me to be, he likes me being critical. Certainly we are in a good position now, but this regatta is still only half way through. Our team has not really made any errors and we have boat speed, and that makes my job as tactician easy. We have good all round speed, good upwind and today I certainly felt we were good downwind."
Roberto Bermudez de Castro, Caixa Galicia's skipper summed up their three races:
"There are moments where we didn't sail too well and you pay a price for that. We are still twelve points from Artemis in the overall standings, in this championship. But there are is still plenty of time. Hopefully we can improve our sailing when conditions are windier because we are just not as good as them (Artemis) with more wind. We are waiting to see if conditions will be a bit lighter in the next few days and we can even it up a little.
Artemis is sailing really well and is having a really good championship and it is proving to be difficult. If you look back they are the only team that is ahead that hasn't won an event. Each of the leading teams has won their own regatta. We hope it won't be the case but it seems that Artemis is also going out to win their own regatta as well! But until Saturday we are going to keep fighting….there is still time….."
And tactician John Kostecki concurred:
"We are happy. We had a good race for our second place. That is the best result we have had in these windier conditions. Russell is just a little bit faster and in the first race he was able to force us a little bit down into the pack, but that almost hurt him. But at this stage ten (or 12) points is still nothing. We really are just happy to be so close at this stage and as we see here (Siemens' broken mast) S**t happens, and we are only half way through the regatta."