Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Artemis grabs leadership of the Marseille Trophy under stunning conditions

If the opening day of the regatta offered a modest introduction to ‘Mistral-lite’ conditions, 15-19 knots, today’s two windward-leeward contests met with conditions much closer to the upper racing limit for the Audi MedCup Fleet of TP52’s.

After an initial postponement, waiting for the wind to drop enough, there were still 22 knots blowing from the Mistral’s hallmark North West direction when Race 4 started. With the windward mark set under the cliffs of the Isle du Frioul the breeze may have been strong, but it was erratic at times on the approach to the top turn.

Long, spectacular surfs downwind on the limit of control at times, ended with a bumpy turn at the leeward gate just offshore from Marseille’s Pointe Rouge, overlooked by the spectacular Montagnes de Marseille Veyre.

The 2007 circuit winners were on regular form. Tactician John Kostecki (USA) helped owner-helm Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) to make two solid starts, while other contenders faltered. And getting into phase with the shifting breeze was key, a talent Kostecki has proven to be strong on over his years on this circuit with different boats, all complemented by solid crew work from the BMW Oracle Racing Team who fill the core positions.

Artemis chased their Reichel/Pugh-designed sistership USA-17, across the finish line to take second in the first race only 15 seconds behind with Platoon by Team Germany earning third.

A 12th from the first race of the regatta is weighty ballast in this white hot fleet for Artemis, but being able to return regular scores, second and third in these bruising conditions was impressive today. Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine (MON) which lead into this regatta, had a problem on the start line of the first race and was left flat footed, to start last. Whilst in the second race USA-17 was judged to be one of four boats over the start line and forced to re-start. Russell Coutts (NZL) and the USA-17 crew were seeking redress, believing they should not have been called as one of the four offenders.

The day’s second race proved a resounding victory for Terry Hutchinson (USA) and the crew on the new Botin & Carkeek-designed Quantum Racing, their first win this season for a team which won the 2005 circuit. Vicente Torado’s CXG Caixa Galicia (ESP) also raised team morale with a hard won second, their navy blue bow and iconic ’watching-eye’ gennaker breaking the line ahead of a four-way scramble across the finish line, pipping Artemis which has their 2007 season tactician Kostecki on board.

Artemis go into tomorrow’s 40-mile double points coastal race around the Frioul islands and down to Cassis and back with a two points lead, ahead of Bribón who are a point ahead of USA-17.

Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE), owner-helm of Artemis said:
“I like these kind of conditions, windy, wavy and physically tough, just love it. Good, tight racing. We are getting there, we are working better as a team and getting over my long lay off. It is starting to come together. It shows that we are performing better. It was so enjoyable. Tough conditions, testing and it helps when you come off the water having done well. We do well in the windy conditions when the quality of this team is playing off.”

Artemis trimmer Juan Meseguer (ESP):
“The boats are identical and so the settings are pretty much identical. We had so little time to prepare and sail them together because the other boat was late that we are all still learning. Some crew were in Austria and so had very little time to sail the boat after Alicante. It was hard, but it was good, and you just can’t top these kind of days, downwind was really hard work, but every position on these boats is hard when the breeze is like that.”

Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper and helm of Quantum Racing:
“That race was a long overdue race. We have had more than a couple of things that have not really fallen in line for us, so it was it was nice to be in a position where, when something does go your way it is nice to be able to capitalise on it. And the first race we were sailing a great race and the breeze went 25 degrees right on the second beat and stayed there, but I think collectively as a team we learned a lot about the boat handling, and it was just nice to sail aggressively today in conditions that were challenging. And, steering, for me it was awesome, nice gybes, no broaches and downwind in the second run of the first race I think we were well over the middle 20 knots, but we could not see the instruments ‘cos they were covered in sheets of spray. Awesome!!!"

Audio highlights from the second day of the Marseille Trophy Terry Hutchinson, Helmsman of Quantum Racing

Video highlights from the second day of the Marseille Trophy

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