Ten boats were on the waters off Palma today warming up for the 2009 TP52 World Championships. Racing starts Wednesday and the title is up for grabs.
After the 2009 Audi MedCup season the slate is cleaned and the imminent 2009 TP52 World Championships, which start with tomorrow’s Practice Race, represent a whole new opportunity requiring a completely different strategy.
The absence in Palma of Emirates Team New Zealand, recently crowned Audi MedCup Champions, leaves the field open with any one of three or four boats having shown over this season that they have the boatspeed and the skills to win the title which will be settled over the next few days on the Bay of Palma.
For certain most of the teams are familiar with the host club, the Real Club Nautico de Palma and the venue, not least the three teams for whom the Bay of Palma represents their home waters, José Cusi’s iconic Bribón (ESP), Alberto Roemmers’ Matador (ARG) and John Cook’s Cristabella (GBR). Indeed, this year as well as in 2007 Matador has won the TP52 fleet at the prestigious Copa del Rey raced on these same waters.
But conditions are likely to be very different to summer, as the Russian team Synergy’s navigator Francesco Mongelli (ITA) explains:
“In October the sea is quite hot compared to the land and so, if anything, it is more often you get the breeze at night. And there is high pressure dominating just now as so I think we are looking at light winds, maybe one day of 10-12 knots.” Says Mongelli.
Without doubt two of the title favourites lining up in Palma are the current World Champions, Quantum Racing (USA) which won in 2008 in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote and the 2007 champions Artemis (SWE). While the Quantum Racing team is unchanged from that which clinched second place on the Audi MedCup Circuit last month in Portugal, Artemis, is returned to full strength with owner Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) back on the helm with tactician Paul Cayard (USA) supported by new dad and 2007 Star world champion Hamish Pepper (NZL) as strategist, aided by round the world racer, past skiff and 505 world champion Chris Nicholson (AUS). Palma is also a happy hunting ground for Cayard who won the Copa del Rey in 1987 with the Maxi Il Moro de Venezia, and was tactician when Siemens Matador won in 2007.
“This is the chance for revenge.” Confirms Matador’s Italian tactician Francesco Bruni, “It is the last race of the season and everyone is hungry for revenge. For sure. Everyone has been hit hard by Emirates Team New Zealand and so everyone wants to have a good chance here.”
“We have a good chance here, we are one of the top teams here and we have been using the practice days here as best we can to give our owner Alberto Roemmers, who will steer, as much of a warm up as possible. He does not steer every day, but he did a fantastic job at the Copa del Rey and we have the same team here so we are confident. We hope to do a good job here.”
After tomorrow’s Practice Race, racing begins Wednesday with up to 11 races to be completed by Sunday, including Friday’s scheduled coastal race.
“I think the sea breeze will not be as good as in August, not as strong. Today and yesterday was quite light and unstable, but the left usually pays, but at this time of year it can be very different.” Francesco Bruni (ITA), tactician Matador (ARG).
“We are in good shape. The strategy with the worlds is a completely different event. It has been long season, but now the MedCup is over and done with this is one off event which we approach a little bit differently. We need to sail consistently and do a good job.” Chris Hosking (AUS) boat captain Artemis (SWE).
“We have had two days of light airs practice. I don’t think it adds to the pressure being champions, we are all pretty relaxed and we are sailing well, but there are a lot of good boats out there, so it would be nice to defend.” Mark Mendelblatt (USA) strategist Quantum Racing (USA), defending champions.