Friday, May 02, 2008

Desafío consolidates leadership in light winds on second day of Quebramar GP42 Cup

Santa Margherita Ligure, 2 May 2008: The eight crews of the GP42 fleet were greeted by light and testing conditions during the second day of the Quebramar GP42 Cup, similar to the opening day. Desafío, the Spanish team, prevailed once again, finishing first in the day’s only race and consolidating their leadership in the overall standings, after a tough battle against AIRIS. Near Miss had a very nice recovery through the race and crossed the finish line third.

Racing started after a 1-hour postponement, in order for the breeze to pick up. Even if the favoured end of the starting line was at the pin, the GP42 fleet crowded the committee boat. The lesson from yesterday’s races was learned; head to the coast and get as close as possible to Portofino, and that’s what they did, tacking even a few meters away from the rocks.

Right from the start, AIRIS and Desafío lead the fleet, closely followed by Canarias Puerto Calero, rounding the top mark in that order. In the first run, the fleet decided to go to the left side of the course while AIRIS opted once again for the coast, risking to lose its leadership as the rest of the 130-strong fleet of the event was going upwind, heading right towards them.

The gamble paid out and the Italian boat, helmed by kiwi Cameron Appleton, rounded the leeward gate ahead but was feeling the strong pressure by Desafío and Canarias Puerto Calero.

In the second beat, the fleet once again headed towards the coast and the fight between AIRIS and the all-America’s Cup crew of Desafío continued unabated. At the same time, Near Miss, helmed by Bertrand Pacé, was working its way up the fleet, rounding the top mark in third position.

In the least leg, the battle for supremacy turned into a match race between Desafío and AIRIS that was won by the Spanish in the last few hundred meters. Near Miss finished third and Canarias Puerto Calero fourth.

Right after the end of the first day the race committee tried to squeeze in a second one and fired the starting gun a few minutes after the Wallies had started their own race. The fleet once again headed towards the coast in search of a possible puff of wind. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any luck and the breeze kept dying down. After they vainly kept on trying to catch its scattered remains, the race committee cancelled all racing for the day.

The schedule for tomorrow calls for two windward/leeward races but, unfortunately, the weather forecast leaves little room for optimism as the light and testing conditions will most probably prevail, once again.

Provisional standings after 3 races
1. Desafío, 5 points, (3+1+1)
2. Canarias Puerto Calero, 9 points, (2+3+4)
3. AIRIS, 10 points, (6+2+2)
4. Madrid, 11 points, (1+4+6)
5. Near Miss, 16 points, (4+9+3)
6. Roma GP 42.2, 19 points, (5+9+5)
7. Seawonder 007, 19 points, (7+5+7)
8. Roma GP 42.1, 22 points, (8+6+8)


Tanguy Cariou, Tactician - Near Miss: It was a race with winds that were stronger than what we had expected and as a result quite interesting. You had to look for the wind and go close to the coast, near Portofino. During the first leg racing was much closer and we had some intense fights we the rest of the fleet but after the top mark, the fleet spread apart and distances increased. Still, one of the trickiest aspects was when we had to cross the boats from the other classes and due to that factor the results in the GP42 fleet were more random.

Under today’s and yesterday’s very light conditions you needed to stay alert and catch the correct wind shifts. Racing is much trickier than when you have 10 or 15 knots of wind.

We raced well and managed to recover positions and finish third. We now need to continue our good performance in order to make up the lost ground from Thursday’s OCS.

We are satisfied with our new boat. We sailed well but we are still learning. We obviously have no reference points for it but I’m convinced the platform is good and we would really like to be able to race under windier conditions, where the boat reaches its maximum performance and the difference between the fleet are more evident.

Jose Maria Ponce, Helmsman - Canarias Puerto Calero: Wind conditions were difficult during the day; we barely had more than 6 knots. In my opinion the race committee took the right decision to cancel the second race when windspeed dropped to 2 knots. Even though these are fast boats, our speed barely passed over 1 knot at that stage.

I’m very satisfied with the performance of the boat and the team. We carried out some changes in the crew this year and it seems we have made the right choice. As for the boat, it compares favourably with the rest of the fleet and especially the new boats. I haven’t noticed any radical evolution in the design and last year’s boats are doing very well. Desafío is leading the Quebramar Cup and we are second. Still, don’t forget that the new boats have only been sailing for a few days with completely new crews. They will obviously get better but we will also improve during the season.

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