Wednesday, May 13, 2009

AUDI MedCup - Alicante Trophy: Day 1 - Preview

Good morning from rainy and cold Alicante. It seems that Terry Hutchinson's prediction last week in his interview to Valencia Sailing, unfortunately, turned out to be true. While conditions were picture perfect all week, they are quite unpromising today.

Today will be the start of real racing for the TP52's while the GP42's will carry out their practice race. One hopes the breeze will establish itself and allow the 13 TP52's and 6 GP42's reach their potential.

Terry Hutchinson, Quantum Racing helmsman: "I don't think anyone would be satisfied with a fifth place finish in the practice race. Still, the good thing about a practice race is that it reminds you of all the things you have to do well.We had a nice start, sailed a pretty conservative first beat and got around the top mark third. We didn't sail perfectly in the run and the 2nd beat and we got passed. The good thing about all that is that there is a lot of things we could have done better. We weren't sailing the boat as well as we should in terms of speed upwind and that probably impacts on the tactical decisions. Well, for a practice race that's exactly what you want. Everybody here is very good and if you want to win races you have to sail well.

Today could be very tricky. We have two different forecasts. One saying we could have similar conditions to yesterday and another one saying we could have a southerly to southwesterly wind in which case it would be very good sailing, 15 to 18 knots of breeze and very good conditions. It's a wait-and-see situation. With all the clouds hanging over us this morning it just tells you it's going to be a very tricky day.

As for Team New Zealand, it was not the best of conditions yesterday for them. They had two nice starts but then got unlucky and sailed into a hole. From what one of their guys told me, they just hanged on and got a nice lane in the 2nd beat that allowed them to sail nicely and finish 3rd. I suspect we saw the boat in its weakest point, not its strongest one and as you would expect from them it's going to be a very polished program."

Grant Dalton, Emirates Team NZ CEO: "We have to be very careful and not over expect in the first regatta because we still haven't learned the boat and got our combination going although we pretty naturally fit together because we have been sailing with each other. I think the differential of the boat will become more apparent with more wind. In the light conditions we had yesterday a little puff for someone makes a big difference. We feel very comfortable but there are 6 teams vying for the top spot.

This TP52 campaign is not a substitute for our America's Cup campaign and we will most probably not continue next year. I struggle to see how the next America's Cup match can't take place other than February, in Valencia or somewhere else. Then hopefully, the next conventional Cup will be in 2011. If it's in 2012 then it will be very tough. Most people will be in retirement or close to it. There will certainly be a lot more activity until February and we saw that today, with allegations and counter allegations. Our hope, and certainly BMW Oracle's hope, is that it will be all finished by February.

Emirates Airlines is a sponsor of our team but the majority of funding for our participation in the Medcup comes from one of our major supporters, Matteo de Nora. He is really behind our team at the moment. Our sponsors are all there, all in place for a Cup.

Our aim is to, obviously, win the 2009 Medcup and this is what another 5-6 team are trying as well. Yet, I was told that the average place that won the season last year was 4.5 so in our internal discussions with the afterguard our main goal is to be consistent and not swing from one end of the fleet to the other. Overall, at the end of the season consistency is the key and I believe that as a team, we are better than 2 years ago when we were beaten by Alinghi.

Emirates Team New Zealand is not interested in participating in a multihull America's Cup, as Alinghi pretends. This is obviously just PR propaganda from Alinghi and it is completely ridiculous. We seriously question this pseudo-challenge that comes from the reincarnation of +39."

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