Half way through MedCup season game is wide open

Mean Machine blasts downwind at Race 7 of the Audi MedCup in Cagliari, Sardinia

With three of the six Audi MedCup Circuit regattas sailed and teams now assembling in Puerto Portals, Majorca over the weekend for the fourth event, the a look back at what has happened so far and what we can expect mid-Summer in Majorca?

So far the Audi MedCup Circuit has seen 26 races sailed in three locations with 17 different boats taking part. Of those 17 no fewer than 8 boats have won individual races and there have been three different individual regatta winners. On top of that the leader of the Audi MedCup Circuit has also changed three times so far.

In Alicante, Marseille or Cagliari consistency has played the most significant part in the successful teams' approach. Consistency will continue to be the most important factor for the overall 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit honours, awarded at the end of the last event in Portimao in September.

A closer look at the results shows that a different yacht design offices have been responsible for each of the victories, Judel/Vrolijk in the lighter season opener in Alicante with Mean Machine, Reichel/Pugh with the windy Marseille event with USA-17 and most recently Botin/Carkeek with Quantum Racing in the most all round set of conditions, light airs, medium and windy conditions in Sardinia.

'I think that we have been very successful in being able to mode Quantum Racing. So we have always been able to make the right changes for each set of conditions and have come away from each regatta with a solid set of conclusions for each set of conditions we have encountered so far this season.' Concludes Shaun Carkeek of Botin/Carkeek, designers of Circuit leading Quantum Racing, 'But we have seen that the boats are very close in concept and speed now, closer than ever and so the emphasis moves to other areas as well.'

The overall lead of the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit has been in the hands of three different yachts, firstly Mean Machine (MON), a brand new boat launched just weeks before the City of Alicante Trophy Regatta, secondly Bribón (ESP) a 2007 design that went through an optimisation programme with a few significant modifications over the winter, and the current leader, by just 6.2 points, Quantum Racing of the USA.

Quantum is a new boat launched in 2008 and beginning to find the consistency needed to be champion at the end of the year. The overall current standings sees the Reichel/Pugh designed Artemis (SWE) in second and Bribón (ESP) in third, still three different designs, two different generations and three different approaches to the campaign.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit is continuing to produce the closest racing for the best sailors in the most exciting keelboat class the TP52.

The Audi MedCup Circuit is truly the World's Leading Regatta Circuit.

Bribon heads downwind during Race 7 of the AUDI Medcup in Cagliari
Where to from here?

The now standard 10-race schedule for each of the Audi MedCup Circuit Regattas will be continued at the Breitling Regatta in Puerto Portals, Majorca next week.

Held at the beginning of the Summer Holiday season in Majorca and with the arrival of the Spanish Royal Family on the island, a huge popular following of the racing is assured. Tourists and locals come to Puerto Portals in large numbers to see the racing yachts and in particular HM Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, who will skipper Bribón.

With racing scheduled to start at close to 1300hrs each day the racing programme is varied.

On Monday 21st July there is a practice race where each of the 16 teams, from 10 nations, will carry a media guest of the organisation on board for the race to give an inside perspective of racing at the highest level.

Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd July feature three windward-leeward inshore races per day, each scheduled to last about 70 minutes in length. Thursday 24th July is the double points scoring Coastal Race day sailed over a long course of up to 50-nautical miles in length with the infamous 'mid-course gate' where half the points for the day are awarded.

Friday 25th July is like Tuesday, again with up to three inshore windward-leeward inshore races and Saturday 26th July sees the final two windward-leeward inshore races scheduled.

The Breitling Regatta Prizegiving, on Saturday evening, is to form part of a special gala evening held in Palma's Castillo de San Carlos in the presence of the Spanish Royal Family.

Racing conditions in Majorca's Bay of Palma will see mostly thermally induced breezes. Being an extremely well known racing area there are likely to be few surprises in the style of racing. Old hands and newcomers to the Breitling Regatta will all be watching for the stronger patches of wind on the water.

Those who are keeping an eye on the season results will be starting to keep a closer eye on their closest rivals on the scoreboard.

Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 - Standings after 26 races in Alicante, Marseille, Cagliari

1. Quantum Racing USA 129
2. Bribón ESP 135,2
3. Artemis SWE 137
4. Mean Machine MON 158
5. Platoon by Team Germany GER 190
6. Matador ARG 192
7. Mutua Madrileña ESP 200,4
8. El Desafío ESP 207
9. CxG Caixa Galicia ESP 232,6
10. Cristabella GBR 264

Full results for all individual races and overall standings are in the Results Section here - http://2008.medcup.org/results
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