Portimão, Portugal - Top Tour seeds raced today in big bay conditions with the windward mark stationed a little over 500 metres off the entrance to Portimão Marina and 8 – 15 knots of wind which shifted round to the right by early evening round from the South West to West. Matches were run in quick succession during the day’s sea breeze splendour with the first 6 teams completing 3 flights and the remaining 6 teams racing 2 flights. Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing convincingly won all three of his matches, with Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team and Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra finishing the day on 2-0.
Minoprio, reigning World Champion who picked up a second last year at the Portugal leg of the Tour, remains focussed on staying in top form for start time, he talked through race preparation in the Portuguese climate, “It’s very warm here, you feel like you want to enjoy the sun and go swimming, but if you stay in the heat you get dehydrated and won’t be able to focus properly for the racing, you just can’t do both”. This commitment to performance shone through today in Minoprio’s second match against Bertrand Pacé (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team who was World Champion back in 2000. Pacé led Minoprio round the course until he picked up a penalty that he just couldn’t off load by the finish as Minoprio took the advantage and lungedacross the line ahead of the passionate Frenchman.
The power out on the course has sat firmly with the right today. During pre-start manoeuvres skippers factored in fighting for the all important right hand side where the benefits of the wind clocking continually right coupled with starboard tack dominance multiplied the attraction of this side of the start line and first beat significantly.
Bruni is a fan of the new Portuguese venue having won both of his matches today, “There are good conditions here in Portimão, the venue has a big potential”. Interestingly Bruni is known as a ‘light wind specialist’ but it has taken the stronger winds of Portimão to give him the edge over his competitors having beaten both Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team and Portuguese national Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team, with a 2-0 score.
Richard also ends day one with a 2-0 score. He was not daunted by the prospect of stronger winds at Stage 4 saying after the Skipper’s briefing, “We like the light winds definitely and had light winds in the first stages, but I also think we can get good results in the stronger breeze”. Richard has nearly won the Tour a number of times before and has had to mount the podium but not be the overall king which is frustrating for this hugely talented European. 2010 has been a dream year so far for his team and today he once again communicated the focussed and consistent approach he uses for all events, “We are confident as we sailed well since the beginning of the year and the weather is good here in Portugal, we have those all important points and results which makes us happy. But we also feel pressure as we are the leaders and when you have a such a lead the spotlight is on you”.
The forecast for the event week ahead is for unbroken sunshine translating into solid match racing breeze for the 12 entries.
Day 1: Current Round Robin Standings
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 3-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2-0
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra 2-0
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 2-1
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 2-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 1-1
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge 1-1
Bertrand Pacé (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team 1-2
Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team 1-2
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team 0-2
Manuel Weiller (ESP) Team Iberdrola 0-2
Eugeny Neugodnikov (RUS) Team Synergy 0-3