Artemis are Mistral masters today on the Gulf of Cagliari, Quantum on the verge of victory
[Source: AUDI Medcup] In the blustery conditions which produced spectacular, top speed racing that peaked with one fantastic adrenaline pumping final run to the finish line in more than 25 knots of wind, it was the cool, composed and slick team on Artemis (SWE), lead by John Kostecki (USA) with owner Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) steering which won the race from the rapidly advancing Matador (ARG).
But with a fifth place today, compared to the seventh of their nearest rival for the regatta Trophy, Mean Machine (MON), Doug de Vos (USA) and Fred Howe’s (USA) Quantum Racing (USA) eased four points clear at the top of the regatta standings with just one final day of racing planned for Saturday.
Racing is scheduled to start early on the final day at around 1000hrs. In second Mean Machine are seven points clear of third placed Mutua Madrileña who in turn are just two points up on Bribón.
The conditions today were a sharp contrast to the previous days of sea-breeze racing. With the wind blowing offshore from the north, out of the deep, U-shaped bay which is the Gulf of Cagliari, there was no shortage of challenges for the tacticians as well as a hard, physical test for the crews. And when the crews were sent ashore, so too there was a race to repair damaged sails in short order, just in case the race officers call the fleet back to race again.
Terry Hutchinson's Quantum Racing, one step closer to winning the Cagliari Trophy. Cagliari, 4 July 2008. Photo copyright Ian Roman / AUDI Medcup
Paul Cayard (USA), in concert with navigator Bruno Zirili (ITA) and tactician John Cutler (NZL) earned the early lead for El Desafío (ESP). The green and grey boat of the Spanish America’s Cup team was smartly off the start line near the left, pin end but then called a perfect lay line for the left shifting breeze. That was enough to give them an 18 seconds lead around the first turn, ahead of Thursday’s coastal race winners Mutua Madrileña (CHI) who were bristling with new-found confidence after their recent successes.
But El Desafío’s run was halted when it was discovered their spinnaker had a tear, allowing Mutua Madrileña through to lead. No sooner had the Chilean flagged boat planed flat out into the lead than they suffered exploding kite trouble and had to drop the remains to the deck. The baton was passed back to El Desafío who carried on round the leeward mark in the lead.
On the second beat Artemis got it right, exploiting the left flank again, and were able to round the windward mark 21 seconds ahead of El Desafío as the prelude to an exciting final run to the finish, which proved an acid-test of sail and boat handling in the big breeze.
While El Desafío tripped as they gybed to cover the fast advancing Matador, spinnakers tore on Bribón and then on Mean Machine. Artemis remained relatively trouble free, crossing the finish line 18 seconds ahead of Matador, whilst Mutua Madrileña had long since put their troubles behind them, to finish third, with El Desafio in fourth.
Quantum’s fifth was another solid step towards their first regatta win this season, but it could have been better. Tactician Morgan Larson (USA) admitted later, that they, like others had been caught out by the unexpected strength of the Mistral:
“We made a little bit of a strategic error. We did not expect that much breeze. We lost our tender and so we just have a smaller rubber boat, and so we can’t take all our sails afloat and did not have the heavy jib with us. So our speed suffered from that, but we worked hard and Terry (Hutchinson, USA, helm) did a nice job keeping us on our feet. So, we survived, we did not over stand on anything, we did not break anything and I guess it was OK. We had a safe strategy as the lead boats, working the left, it’s good to be leading but it is hard when you feel compromised with the wrong equipment. We were expecting something around 15-20 knots”