AUDI MedCup - Alicante Trophy - Day 4: Artemis overall leader after two seconds and a bullet
Even under the trickiest conditions, Artemis clearly showed they have all it takes to be the event's leaders. With Torbjorn Tornqvist on the helm and with Russell Coutts calling tactics the Swedish boat sailed nearly to perfection, scoring two seconds and a bullet and grabbed the overall leadership, tied with Emirates Team New Zealand.
Grant Dalton was not satisfied at all with this team's performance yesterday and we are pretty sure he won't be any happier this evening. Emirates Team New Zealand had the possibility to build a convincing margin in the overall leaderboard but threw it away in the day's third and last race.
Quantum Racing, last year's champion and leader of the event until this morning, is just one point behind the first two. According to Terry Hutchinson it was a day that you had to be at least 50% of the time in the right spot and Quantum didn't really get to that.
Start of the 3rd race of day, worst one for Emirates Team NZ. Alicante, 16 May 2009. Photo copyright José Luis Sánchez Mazón / Valencia Sailing
Unfortunately, the penultimate day of the Alicante Trophy turned out to be a glorious day for tourists but a painful one for sailors. Unlike Friday, the breeze was never able to even reach 10 knots and the shifts were constant.
The first race could be considered a fight between the student and his old mentor. Dean Barker, on the helm of Emirates Team NZ, and Russell Coutts, calling tactics on Artemis, fought a fierce battle with the younger kiwi being the winner. This victory, and a fifth place for Quantum, gave the New Zealanders the top spot on the overall leaderboard.
It initially appeared that Vasco Vascotto and his Pisco Sour were the smartest of the fleet, with a clean start and an advantage on the left side of the course. Still it was Artemis and ETNZ that, respectively, rounded ahead in the top mark. The battle went on but a great gain on the 2nd beat gave Emirates Team New Zealand the opportunity to pass Artemis and lead at the top mark. Dean Barker helmed the first ever Team NZ TP52 boat to her first ever victory in the Medcup circuit and, albeit short-lived, overall leadership of the Alicante event.
Last run of the last race. Quantum starts it in 3rd place but 4 boats pass them. Alicante, 16 May 2009. Photo copyright José Luis Sánchez Mazón / Valencia Sailing
The second race of the day went to the Portuguese Bigamist, their first ever victory in the TP52 circuit. Despite an average start, Hugo Rocha's calls, tactician on Bigamist, were right on the spot and the Portugues boat grabbed the fleet leadership halfway through the first beat. The fluky breeze proved Rocha's ally, keeping his boat well ahead of Artemis and Emirates Team New Zealand.
Bigamist rounded the top mark ahead of the fleet and held on to her lead with no great worries. A perfect final run allowed the Portuguese to build a sizable lead and crossed the finish line more than 1:30 ahead of Artemis. A third place allowed Team New Zealand to consolidate their overall leadership of the event.
With the wind getting lighter and shiftier, Bribón seemed to sail to an easy victory when the Spanish King's boat opted for the far right side of the course and built a healthy margin over Artemis. Yet, Thierry Peponnet and Ross Macdonald on Bribón were no match for Artemis. Russell Coutts' call in the second beat was bang on and Artemis rounded the top mark half a minute ahead of the Spanish yacht, a lead they maintained until the finish line.
Quotes of the day
Torbjorn Tornqvist, helmsman on Artemis: "It was an excellent day for Artemis. We sailed well, we had the right setup of sails, great tactics from Russell and we stayed focused and consistent throughout the day. We stayed on top of the shifts because as they day progressed they were consistent and we knew where to go. Most boats got the bad as well as the correct side of the course but we managed to be almost always in the right spot. It is one of these days where everything works."
Artemis sails nearly flawlessly to overall leadership. Alicante, 16 May 2009. Photo copyright José Luis Sánchez Mazón / Valencia Sailing
Afonso Domingos, helmsman on Bigamist: "After scoring the first ever victory for a Portuguese team in the TP52 circuit, this is my best day ever, until tomorrow when we hope to repeat our performance and score yet another one. Seriously, this was a great day and the result of an excellent job by the crew.
The key today was to be in the right spots. We did it in the 2nd race and despite the attempt by the 2nd boat to cover us we managed to stay free and increase our distance. With this wind, our boat, the 2008 Platoon, is really good and last year as well the Germans were pretty good under these conditions.
If the other teams allow it, we hope to score a 2nd victory tomorrow."
Dean Barker, helmsman on Emirates Team New Zealand: "It was a day with really difficult conditions. It was very light and in the third race we simply didn't sail well. There is no excuse to that and in these marginal conditions when you fall behind it's very tough to gain any places. It's frustrating but at least we are still in the front of the fleet and we hope we have a good day tomorrow."
Ray Davies, tactician on Emirates Team New Zealand: "In the third race we struggled to hold our line up the start, tacked for some clear air, got passed a couple of times and next thing you know we're in back of the fleet. It's pretty tricky in these light and shifty conditions. We were dead last at some point but managed to pass three boats up the beat. We had few lanes and our only option was to pass a boat at a time. Under these conditions it's pretty hard to do that.
The key today was to start well and have clear air. We did really well in the first two races and we were quite happy with the way we sailed but the last race shadowed that."
Guillermo Parada, helmsman on Matador: "It was difficult day but I wouldn't say a bad one. We have been able to remain very close to the top and if tomorrow conditions are more favorable for our boat we will undoubtedly do better. Our new boat has been optimized for a little bit more wind and under these conditions we suffer. We have to sail in a very smart way, something that it seems we don't always do. Still, given the overall results, it hasn't been a bad day.
The key today was to sail clear and go to the side you chose. If you had luck it could turn your way, something that didn't happen even for the top teams. Another very important factor is to never raise your hands no matter how bad the situation might look. In the last race we were able to recover a handful of positions and remain in the game."
Terry Hutchinson, helmsman on Quantum Racing: " I wouldn't say I'm happy today. Actually, the first two races were quite good but the last one was clearly disappointing. We were third in the last top mark but four boats behind us found more pressure and passed us in the run. In the last half of the leg we tried to minimize damage but we were unable to recover a lot. That's sailboat racing. We have the opportunity to win a regatta tomorrow and that's all we ask for.
The key today was to hope you were right 50% of the time. Look at Team New Zealand. They won the first race but halfway up the first beat they were 10 boatlngths behind us. It was about going to a spot of water where nobody was and hope you got the right air."