AUDI MedCup : Matador wins Alicante Trophy after nail biting last race
The Argentinean sailing war machine fired on all engines this afternoon in Alicante. A second place and a bullet in the day's two races as well a mediocre last race by both Emirates Team NZ and Quantum, gave the Alicante Trophy to the boat helmed Guillermo Parada.
Matador is the winner of the trophy with 36 points, followed by Artemis with 37, Emirates Team NZ with 38 and Quantum Racing with 40. Four boats separated by just 4 points guarantee a long, tough and close season.
The first race was simply an Oscar-winning performance by the winners of the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup. Emirates Team New Zealand led from start to finish despite the tough pressure put on by Matador and Quantum. Dean Barker got off the starting line with clear air on the pin end and the first part of the beat turned into a drag race against Quantum and Matador. Having a slight speed advantage, NZL-380 got on the lead and rounded the top mark 9 seconds ahead of Matador and 15 ahead of Quantum.
Neither of the two trailing boats was able to threaten Emirates Team New Zealand that, on the contrary, increased their lead by 5 seconds at each mark. Still, in the last run Matador was able to shorten the kiwi advantage, crossing the finish line a mere 10 seconds behind them. Quantum finished third close behind.
Guillermo Parada helms Matador to overall victory in the Alicante Trophy. Alicante, 17 May 2009. Photo copyright Jesús Renedo
After the end of the race, Emirates Team NZ were overall leaders, holding a 3-point margin over Quantum and a 4-point lead over Artemis and Matador. All they had to do was sail conservatively, keep clear and avoid trouble. Well, nothing of that took place. In pure Latin style, the Argentineans imposed themselves and left the other contestants no chance whatsoever.
Matador had a brilliant start on the pin end and started a drag race with the kiwis towards the left side of the course. The Argentineans came on top, rounding the top mark 6 second ahead of Pisco Sour. Vasco Vascotto's boat was the one to have opted for the furthest left edge of race track, a strategy that paid off. Artemis was close behind third.
On the other hand, Quantum, being the first of the leading boats to have tacked to the right, paid dearly their move and came into the 1st run eighth. From that point on, Matador kept their lead until the finish line while the New Zealanders and Quantum sailed poorly, finishing 7th and 6th respectively. On the other hand, Artemis continued their very consistent performance and finished second. They are also second overall, squeezed between Matador and Team NZ, with just three points separating the teams.
Guillermo Parada, helmsman Matador: "It was a great day for us. We learned a lot from the errors we committed throughout the week and made sure we didn't repeat them today. Everything went well today. We had two excellent starts, the boat had a very good speed with a little bit more of breeze, Francesco made some brilliant tactic calls and crew work was very smart.
I think the key to today's success were the two very good starts. We immediately got in the top 3 boats after each start and with our good boat speed we sailed very well. I have to repeat that everybody on the boat did an excellent job today and was very concentrated.
We knew in the morning that we did have a chance for first place and we were conscious it depended upon us and that we had to fight until the finish. This result clearly shows us, and the rest of the teams, that we are alive and that we will fight."
Russell Coutts, tactician on Artemis: "We are very happy with the overall result in the Alicante Trophy. Finishing second, just one point from the lead is very good result. We sailed well and we are very happy with our new boat in terms of performance.
Nevertheless, this is just the beginning of a long and tough season. Even if the number of boats is smaller this year compared to last year, the level has considerably increased and got much tougher."
Ray Davies, tactician Emirates Team New Zealand: "We had a brilliant first race and led from start to finish. In the second race we were at a very good shape in the top mark, 4th, but down in both runs we lost places, two in the first run and another one in the second run. We have to work on our downwind sailing and on getting better speed in light airs.
Finishing just 2 points from the lead means that we are very, very close to the best teams here in the TP52 circuit. In the light and shifty conditions it's a little bit a roll of the dice so we have to work in our light air percentage gains. Overall, we are quite satisfied. In this very first regatta we wanted to survive and make sure we are in contagion. We feel we have to keep improving as the season goes on. We are very, very happy to be just two points from the lead. There is still a long way to go but of course people always expect the best from Emirates Team New Zealand."