Audi Med Cup The Conde de Godo Trophy race for the 52 Series MedCup title has stepped ever higher in intensity in light breezes off Barcelona after a stunning recovery from the Spanish crew on Bribon saw them finish in second place in the only race of the day.
Conde de Godo City of Barcelona Trophy Regatta 2011
Long time Circuit leaders Quantum Racing (USA) slid to a second successive seventh place in the eight boat fleet which is competing for the Conde de Godo City of Barcelona Trophy.
After finishing third in Cagliari, winning in Cartagena and now seizing the regatta today lead in Barcelona with their come-from-behind second place, their incredible momentum might almost even suggest a date with destiny come Saturday’s gala prizegiving as the perfect full stop to the 40 year history of the famous team. But in fact the title race is still a four cornered fight.
Germany’s Container scored their first race win since July to keep the Markus Wieser skippered crew in the title challenge. Less than 13 points separate Quantum Racing from fourth placed Audi Azzurra (ITA) with up to four races of the season left. The American flagged team, which won the overall title in 2008, lead Spain's Bribon by just seven points.
While Container started best today and were able to use the added wind pressure to the left side of the course, it was Tony Langley’s Gladiator (GBR) which lead around the windward mark. Container took the lead on the first run as they read the fluky wind pressure better and Gladiator chose to gybe set to the left of the run
Bribon had come off the start line second best after the challenge for the pin end of the line and found themselves with a struggle on their hands. But their excellent boat speed in the light, 6-8kts breeze, was the key to their climb through the fleet from sixth at the first turn, going on to chase Container across the finish.
Of concern to the Quantum Racing crew will, again, be the way in which they slipped from an early third after a strong opening beat, to cross seventh. The rise of the 52 Series fleet’s oldest design, Bribon, over the second half of this season has been pronounced.
They stood sixth on the Circuit standings after each of the first two events, fifth after Cagliari, fourth after their win in Cartagena and now they lie second on the season standings after having made up 31.5 points on Quantum Racing over the last 18 races.
Bribon’s trimmer and project manager Ignacio Triay (ESP) came ashore saying that with two days to go the season title race starts again here:
'It feels like the season starts here, it starts today. Everything could happen in the next two days, everything!' said Triay. 'I tell you I would never have expected this. We were pretty convinced that the podium of the Audi MedCup would be a fight between Quantum, Audi Azzurra and Container and we were pretty convinced that the fight for fourth place would be between us, Ran and Synergy.'
'In Cartagena we had the feeling that, hey, maybe we should go for more. Suddenly we found ourselves closing to the podium, so we said maybe we should try. Here has happened three things: today or tomorrow the conditions could change but so far the conditions for Bribon have been not bad. We did a more constant three days and our most direct opponents are doing worse than any other event before, so all together I was looking at the numbers and probably after two days in Cascais it was closer than it is now. It is not going to be for anyone with a weak heart. Anything can happen?
Quantum is still far ahead, we have Azzurra and Container very close to us.' The 52 Series are scheduled to sail four more windward leeward races, effectively losing their coastal race since only one race could be completed today.
In the 40 Series race it was Iberostar which scored their first win as a team in this fleet, holding off Tony Buckingham’s Cartagena winners Ngoni. The British crew held their nerve and concentration in the final stages of the last run to secure second only just ahead of Iberdrola Team.
Standings, Conde de Godó - City of Barcelona Trophy
TP-52 after five races
1. Bribón (ESP), 1+3+3+1+2=10 points
2. RAN (SUE), 2+1+1+2+5=11 points
3. Container (GER), 4+7+5+4+1=21 points
4. Quantum Racing (USA), 3+2+2+7+7=21 points
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 8+4+8+3+4=27 points
6. Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One (GER/FR), 6+8+6+5+3=28 points
7. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 5+5+4+8+8=30 points
8. Gladiator (GBR), 7+6+7+6+6=32 points
Soto-40 after three races:
1. Iberdrola Team (ESP), 1+1+3=5 points
2. Iberostar (ESP), 2+4+1=7 points
3. Ngoni (GBR), 5+3+2=10 points
4. Cruiser-racer.com (ESP), 4+2+4=10 points
5. Bigamist (POR), 3+5+6=12 points
6. Visitmalta (ESP), 6+6+5=17 points
7. XXII (EUR), DNC+DNC+DNC=24 points
Markus Wieser (GER) skipper-helm Container:
'What a great race for us of course winning by more than a minute. After a perfect start we had a free lane after RAN tacked early and we always got new pressure from the left. Once we managed to overtake Gladiator, it was easy to defend the lead with covering the stronger right side of the course. It's so much easier when you don't have any dirty air from the other boats, but we also sailed more or less faultless today. We got a lot of great input by our coach Fritjof Kleen. He predicted the right strategy for the day expecting the left shift.
It was not a drag race for us. The fastest boat was Bribon coming back after such a bad start when there were 300 m behind on the first beat. They are on the track to win the overall Audi MedCup Circuit. Speed wise no one can keep up with them.'
Ross MacDonald (CAN) tactician Bribon (ESP):
' As you can see it is pretty tricky out there, no matter how many points are left anything can happen. Container are there too and it has all tightened up. It is going to be great to watch from outside. I think we are learning to sail the boat better for sure and it is going better, the way we are setting it up and the way we are sailing. We are sailing with a little more patience, now we are able to sail it like it is our own boat. Maybe early on we had too many preconceived ideas where to place our weight and things like that and now maybe it is more intuitive it is like the way it feels.
The momentum is great but the conditions are helping too. It has been fairly light as it was in Cartagena too. The boat likes that stuff, we are short on the waterline and so in big breeze and flat water we suffer upwind, but every dog has its day, let’s just hope there are a few more dog days.'
Ignacio Triay (ESP) trimmer-project manager Bribon:
'It feels like the season starts here, it starts today. Everything could happen in the next two days, everything! I tell you I would never have expected this. We were pretty convinced that the podium of the Audi MedCup would be a fight between Quantum, Audi Azzurra and Container and we were pretty convinced that the fight for fourth place would be between us, Ran and Synergy.
In Cartagena we had the feeling that, hey, maybe we should go for more. Suddenly we found ourselves closing to the podium, so we said maybe we should try. Here has happened three things: today or tomorrow the conditions could change but so far the conditions for Bribon have been not bad. We did a more constant three days and our most direct opponents are doing worse than any other event before, so all together I was looking at the numbers and probably after two days in Cascais it was closer than it is now. It is not going to be for anyone with a weak heart. Anything can happen?
Quantum is still very far, we have Azzurra and Container very close to us. But, if it is windy tomorrow, everything can change. It is possible to win the circuit for sure, but we came here to win Barcelona. That was our goal and we come here to do our job, to say goodbye to our Bribon history with a winner. From the beginning Ran has made it very difficult for us, but we came here with that goal, to win here. But we still have not really looked at the overalls, but it does not just depend on us it depends what others do.
I don’t know about luck, but I certainly think that the motivation is on our side. I have been sailing on Bribon for eighteen seasons and I don’t remember never before the crew being so close as a group of friends and so motivated as we are. I tell you, you need to have a nice crew: very smooth, very motivated to keep pushing, keep pushing as one. It is not easy. But I don’t know if the luck is with us or not, but the attitude, the momentum is with us. We feel so supported here by the city, by our friends here. But of course tomorrow could be a disaster. Today we saved the day and we keep going.'
Ed Baird (USA) skipper-helm Quantum Racing (USA):
'We did sail our own race, we were strong all the way up the first beat and then when we came across on starboard we were within two boat lengths of the boat that rounded first and then we ended up rounding in fifth. Then down the run we dropped a couple of places as well, but we had put ourselves in a very high probability to gain position. And it did not gain, so it was disappointing not to gain.
I think we are sailing the boat well and are doing things the best we can. Each day brings a little different conditions, every boat has their moments. Today was certainly challenging, nobody knew what was going to happen in that breeze. We were quick enough, it was really a dying, not quite sure what’s going to happen next kind of day. We have had people breathing down our necks all season, we are still ahead of where we were when we came into the regatta.'
José María Torcida (ESP), Skipper, Iberdrola Team (ESP):
'We are almost touching the final victory with our fingertips but we can´t celebrate yet. Today is been a day of light wind, we tried to fight by the pin end side against other boats and ended up behind the whole fleet. It was tough making decisions, because it could blow left or right, there was a sequence of shifts that made it hard to choose. In the first beat it took us a while to catch it. In the second one we sailed a lot better, except for the end, where the pressure went up and Iberostar passed us by the right side. The first four boats came in really tight, we came in really close with Cruiser-Racer'.
Audi MedCup website