Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mean Machine leads Breitling regatta with two bullets on first day

[Source: AUDI Medcup] De Ridder and his team sailed to two race wins and a fifth place to share the same overall points tally as Alberto Roemmers’ Argentinian boat Matador, but by virtue of the tie break it is the 2006 MedCup champions who top the Breitling Regatta leader board after a challenging day reading the shifting, changing breezes off the Mallorcan capital city.

At times the sea breeze was fitful as the oppressive, clammy heat and cloud cover stifled any increase in wind strength and with big wind shifts in direction, and variations in pressure it was not an easy day for the tacticians to decipher.

Consistency across the three races was vital. With Italy’s Francesco Bruni calling the tactics for skipper-helm Guillermo Parada, Matador’s two third places sandwich their first race win this year to form their strongest start to an Audi MedCup regatta yet this season.

But it was a day where every hard earned place was vital as Mean Machine proved when they pulled up from ninth at the first leeward mark in the second race to earn their fifth, while their two race wins were the direct reward for smart starting near the extremes of the line and choosing the preferred side of the beat.

With the wind peaking at 11 knots and at times as low as six or seven knots, the ability to change gears and adapt for best boat speed was equally important over what has been a day of the lightest average wind speeds since the opening regatta, back in May in Alicante.

The TP52 fleet in the opening day of the Breitling regatta. Puerto Portals, 22 July 2008. Photo copyright Ian Roman / AUDI Medcup

In 6-8 knots of breeze Mean Machine won the first race after starting from the left side, pin end of the start line and was able to cross Mutua Madrilena (CHI) half way up the first beat and stay in control of the race from the first windward mark to the finish gun.

Matador’s race win came after a less than perfect start when they were able to escape to the right side of the course, rounding the first mark hard on the heels of Quantum Racing (USA). On the downwind leg Matador used one wind shift a little better and were able to round the leeward mark in first place, going on to win from Quantum Racing.

And in the third race Mean Machine were able to extend to the right side of the course in a light breeze, tracking ahead of Quantum Racing.

Finishing second gave the American boat, steered by Terry Hutchinson (USA), a 11,2,2 scoreline for the day. After struggling early in the first race a gain of three places on the final run by Quantum Racing proved as important as they open their lead to ten points on the AudiMed Cup Circuit standings.
After three races Mean Machine and Matador both have seven point aggregates, eight points clear of third placed Quantum Racing, with Jochen Schuemann (GER) and Platoon powered by Team Germany lying fourth on 17 points.

“Without doubt today pressure was king.” reported Ray Davies (NZL), Mean Machine’s tactician, “We probably saw a variance of up to five knots over the race course at times, so it was really vital to be able to change gears a lot, the trimming team did a really good job of keeping the boat powered up in the lulls and Peter did a really good job of starting. We had two good starts at the pin end and a very good start between Artemis and Quantum at the windward. We had really good speed, the boat seems to go well in the light air as we did in Alicante. We have learned a lot since she was new and we were fast in Alicante and fast here, probably especially downwind.”

The TP52 fleet in the opening day of the Breitling regatta. Puerto Portals, 22 July 2008. Photo copyright Ian Roman / AUDI Medcup

“ The overall feeling today is obviously positive, I am very happy we have started the regatta so well and two times out of three we started well. And in the race we started bad we were in the right position. We have always understood well how the wind shifts here and the boat speed in particular is a result, in part to a new set up of the mast that we are testing for a light wind and waves Part of our success today is due to the speed of the boat and partly the way we sailed the wind shifts.” comments Francesco Bruni (ITA) Matador’s tactician.

Terry Hutchinson (USA), Helmsman -skipper of Quantum Racing (USA), said:
“ It was a good recovery in that first race - in fact every time we did something well, someone would tack on us and send us back which I guess is a complement! But we did really nice work in the last half of the last run to pass four boats so that was really good. The next two races the other positive was we bounced back strong. We highlighted a couple of things in our strategies prior to this; I didn’t have a good start which was part of it and we were a little impatient with a couple of things, we were eight points out of lead. But it is good to see that the boat and changes with the sails and stuff have all been good steps forward- plenty of racing to go!”

Guillermo Parada (ARG), skipper-helm of Matador (ARG), said
“ It has been the best start to the season so far, lets hope it continues! Today we made some changes once again on board with a few new sails and the set up of the mast based on the data we have from last year, as we have sailed really well in Palma in the past. Fortunately it seems to still be working, we hope that continues to be the case for the rest of the week. Palma is our home, the boat is comfortable in these waters and so are we and I suppose that has its positive influence on us,”

Peter de Ridder (NED), owner-skipper-helm of Mean Machine (MON), said:
“I’d love to win the gold and silver Breitling Trophy (a silver and gold cap) again, I think the cap suits me! (joking) Today was a nerve-racking day with light airs and quite puffy and shifty, but we had a good couple of starts. We tried to play the game conservatively and it worked very well. We had two starts on the pin which in itself is not conservative, but there was a big hole, and then relied on our boat speed. From there we sailed nicely in phase for all three races. We like being in Palma, a smaller scaled venue, it’s a relaxing environment and I think that gives you a nice mental ease!”

Video highlights from the first day of the Breitling Regatta

Breitling Regatta, Puerto Portals, Mallorca.
Overall standings after 3 races.
(Place, boat name, nationality, P1, P2, P3, total points)
1 Mean Machine MON (1,5,1, 7)
2 Matador ARG (3,1,3, 7)
3 Quantum Racing USA (11,2,2, 15)
4 Platoon powered by Team Germany GER (7,4,6, 17)
5 Bribón ESP (5,10,4, 19)
6 Artemis SWE (4,11,5, 20)
7 Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,12,8, 22)
8 Cristabella GBR (8,6,9, 23)
9 Tau Cerámica Andalucía ESP (6,8,12, 26)
10 Rusal Synergy RUS (12,3,13, 28)

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