The penultimate regatta of the 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit, the Caja Mediterraneo Region of Murcia Trophy starts off Cartagena in just one week’s time and has drawn a full complement of 11 TP52 teams and five GP42’s. With the public village opening next Saturday the Audi MedCup logistics team is working at full stretch to make sure everything is ready for another successful visit to Cartagena
The return to Cartagena will be welcomed by crews and organisers alike, not just for the memorable sailing conditions which were served up last year, when the big, steep waves and brisk afternoon winds produced some of the season’s most dramatic action images, but for the warmth of the welcome and the huge enthusiasm which the historic city always reserves for the Audi MedCup. This will be the third consecutive year that the Audi MedCup returns.
The Audi MedCup Circuit Public Village opens with free access to visitors on Saturday 21st August with the official TP52 Practice Race on the Tuesday and points racing beginning on Wednesday. The GP42’s have their practice race Wednesday, and the TP52 Coastal Race is scheduled for Friday 27th.
As always Cartagena delivers a very active and comprehensive supporting social programme. The Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy forms the centerpiece of a week long festival of activities including Roman and Carthagenian parades, a regional championship for young Optimist sailors (23rd-25th), a custom motorbike show on Saturday 28th and an aircraft display on the final day of the regatta, Sunday 29th.
Challenging the Kiwi consistency
Over history the city and surrounding towns have become no strangers to conflict. Of strategic importance near the entrance to the Mediterranean and blessed with valuable mineral resources, Cartagena and the adjacent lands saw many battles at sea and on land. Next week it will be up to Audi MedCup champions Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) – who won here last year - to prove they can hold off the attacks from their principal TP52 Series rivals, to protect or increase the lead they have through to the end of the season.
Indeed even if the 2009 champions left Murcia with their current lead intact at 28.5 points they would be in a strong position to defend their overall championship title, but at the forefront of their minds is the knowledge that their margin represents little more than one bad day. The strengths of the challengers appear to be more consistent this season with Quantum Racing (USA) and Artemis (USA) both winning regattas this year.
At this stage in the season with settled teams, there are few significant crew changes announced so far. After a disappointing regatta in Barcelona, the Franco-German team on Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE have French navigator Philippe Mourniac – who was unable to race there – returning. The all Italian line up on Luna Rossa (ITA) remains the same, buoyed by last week’s triumph in the Melges 24 World Championships of helm Lorenzo Bressani (ITA).
GP42 Series: Tied at the top
After Madrid - Caser Seguros’ (ESP) first regatta win in Barcelona, they now lead the GP42 Series but only on a tie-break with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), the reigning Audi MedCup Champions. Skipper/tactician Jose María Van der Ploeg (ESP), who sidelined in Barcelona by injury, returns to lead the line in Cartagena.
Cartagena holds bittersweet memories for Madrid – Caser Seguros helmsman Paolo Cian (ITA). It was here that on the last leg of the last race his Roma (ITA) team lost the 2009 title to the Canarias team. But Madrid – Caser Seguros is going better than ever, and after winning six of nine races in Barcelona could be considered the team to beat for the Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy.
Ed Reynolds (USA), project manager Quantum Racing (USA):
“ ETNZ certainly seem more vulnerable than they did last year, but they are still doing what they need to do. Minimize the big score and stay consistent. There are still 200+ points left at play for the season, so a lot can happen.”
“Barcelona seemed like "the one that got away".
“We've won the most races so far this year, so I know we are going well. But, we've put a few big numbers up, which has kept us from closing on the Kiwis.”
Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“ We need to keep pushing and looking to improve in all areas, this has always been ETNZ's philosophy, if you stop improving you get left behind. It's hard to find new ways but they are out there, it's our goal to make small gains in all areas rather then to look for one big edge.”
“ The level of the fleet is the highest yet. The main reason is it's easy to copy and to catch up but its hard to find the next level of improvement, I think if we were to have built a new boat we would have made another jump but there is only one new boat this year, all other teams made modifications and copied a lot of our features from last year so they all made big gains, we made small gains by the new ideas and modifications we made. I'm proud we have managed to keep setting the standard.”
José María Van der Ploeg (ESP), skipper Madrid - Caser Seguros (ESP):
"Our goal in Cartagena is to do well and win, because although we are the leaders of the Circuit, we are tied overall and we depend on each race. Last season it was decided on the final leg of the last race of the Circuit, and I think this year it is not going to be any different. So the goal is to sail very focused. "