A very modest trio of results across yesterday’s races proved a spur to the Matador (ARG) team to come out fighting today and score the best pair of scores in the TP52 fleet to win the City of Alicante Trophy today after a very close fought first regatta of the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit.
In the GP42 Series a final race win was also enough to clinch the overall honours for Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP).
From the disappointment of yesterday’s mixed bag of 7,5,5 Alberto Roemmers’ team had a long de-brief to analyse where they felt they had made mistakes. Perhaps it was the catalyst which set them up to eliminate their weaknesses, to start well in both races today, sailing fast and smart to clinch their first MedCup regatta win since 2007 when they won the prestigious Copa del Rey in Palma.
In 9-12 knots of sea breeze conditions and perfect early season Mediterranean sunshine the four leading protagonists Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Artemis (SWE), Matador and reigning champions Quantum Racing (USA) lined up side by side off the start line in the first race. Emirates Team New Zealand profited from good upwind speed and an excellent start to win the first race and earn a four points lead.
As Matador seized the lead early on the first leg of the final race, Emirates Team New Zealand looked to have done enough to score a maiden regatta win with their new boat when they rounded fourth, less than a boat length behind Artemis and with a four boat cushion to Quantum Racing.
But on the first downwind they chose to carry on to the right for a matter of minutes after Quantum Racing and Artemis had gybed away. They rounded sixth then compounded their troubles when they lost Quantum Racing on the finish line to end the regatta third overall behind Artemis.
For the Matador team, who lead after Day 1, victory is a just reward for two and half months of hard work to prepare their new Judel Vrolijk design which was build near Valencia. Three excellent periods of training in Valencia and Palma ensured the team reached the season’s first regatta in good shape.
Just as in the GP42 Series only one single point in the TP52’s settled the regatta. Two points separated all three new 2009 TP52's which monopolised the top positions from the defending champions Quantum Racing in fourth.
Seven different boats of the 12 strong fleet won races, only Emirates Team New Zealand and Matador won two apiece.
Meanwhile, from out of nowhere…
Just when the scorecard in the GP42 Series was taking on a familiar look, the extraordinary competitiveness of this class can turn things inside out. Going into the first of today’s two races, Roberto Monti’s (ITA) Airis, driven by Cameron Appleton (NZL), looked to have things well in hand with a three-point lead, good overall speed, and smooth teamwork.
But an average start and an environment that tactician Andrew Escourt (NZL) described as “brutal: you couldn’t buy a break” conspired to push Airis back into a 4th place finish, their worst yet of the series, while their rivals on Roma 2, driven by Paolo Cian (ITA), slid ahead into their third win and tying Airis on 16 points.
This now set up the 8th and final race for the series title to be a classic match race between these two Italian-based teams, with Cian and Appleton both being renowned match racers. It was Airis who got the jump and looked to extend their lead coming into the final run to the finish.
However, a poor spinnaker set, a dying and shifting breeze, and the pressure of Roma close behind them ready to jump on them when they gybed kept the Airis team from turning back towards the finish until it was too late.
Lurking only three points back in the standings, but next to last around the final mark, Daniel Calero’s (ESP) Islas Canarias Puerto Calero, driven by Jose María Ponce (ESP), gybed early into the pressure and set themselves up nicely for the 20 degree left shift in the wind.
So when the Italians met the remainder of the fleet just 200m from the finish they found themselves several lengths behind, with the young Canarias team crossing not only by a wide margin but with enough boats between them to win the GP42 Series by a single point.