TAU CERAMICA ANDALUCIA (ESP) sailing upwind in gentle breeze © Ian Roman/AUDI MEDCUP
Spanish boats head the leaderboard after the first day of racing at the 2008 Audi MedCup event off Alicante, Spain. Sixteen starters, two races but just one winner. The mainly amateur crewed Tau Ceramica Andalucia put aside their modest budget and lack of practice to win both of the first two races. Spanish boats hold top three places with Mutua Madrileña second and Bribõn third.
For a crew which have only two full-time paid professionals on board and a budget which committed mainly to buying the 2007 MedCup champion boat Artemis to which they only added two new sails and practised only three days prior to coming to Alicante, today was a fairytale start to the season for Jose Maria Torcida and the crew of Tau Ceramica Andalucia. Winning both races leaves the Andalucian boat four points clear of Vasco Vascotto (ITA) and the crew of Mutua Madrilena who share the same points tally as Jose Cusi’s Bribon.
Racing got under way after a 40 minutes postponement waiting for the sea breeze to settle. Through the day it blew no more than nine knots and by late afternoon had faded at times to just four knots making for a gentle, but mentally challenging start to the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit.
While Tau Andalucia Ceramica, steered by Torcida, who won the 2007 J80 World Championship, made good starts to both races and was second round the first turn in the first race and lead the second race from start to finish, some of the newer, fancied boats in the fleet proved that they have some work to do to get up to speed in the light conditions. But it was the best ever day on the MedCup Circuit for the Tau Ceramica Andalucia team who had never won a race in their first two years on the MedCup Circuit. Their previous best was a solitary second in Ibiza in 2006.
2005 MedCup champions Mutua Madrileña lost three crucial training days after they damaged the top of their mast and only re-launched their Italian-crewed, Chilean-flagged and Spanish-backed TP52 late on Monday evening. They missed Monday’s official practice race in which Tau Ceramica Andalucia finished in last place. But skipper-tactician Vasco Vascotto (ITA) and crew rose from such adversity and lead the first race from the start gun. It was only here, within 60 metres of the finish line , that they let Tau Ceramica Andalucia slide through to take the first gun. Mutua Madrileña sailed to a well-earned fourth in the second race to lie second overall.
It was a day for opportunists and clever sailing. One of the most successful tacticians over the years in this MedCup fleet has been Dee Smith (USA). Smith was missed through last season as he fought a debilitating illness, but he was back to his punchy best today when he helped John Cook’s Cristabella to second place in the second race today. And while Tau Ceramica Andalucia, the former Artemis, had a red letter day with two wins, the MedCup champion helm Torbjorn Tornqvist and his new Artemis 08 had a modest day with a 12th and 11th and lies in 13th position overall.
Manuel Doreste (ESP), tactician on Tau Ceramica Andalucia, past double Soling World Champion, 470 World Champion and four times Olympian:'We never ever believed we would have a day like this. We only sailed the boat for four days so it is great for a crew with amateurs like our sail trimmers. We did not really know the boat but we were sailing very well both races. All the sails we have are the existing sails from last year and we only had money to buy two new jibs. But we made good starts and were always looking for the wind on the right hand side of the course and got it. We were lucky, certainly, but we sailed well. Today was very close racing but we kept our nerves and did our jobs well. Tomorrow? Well we will see about that.'
Vasco Vascotto (ITA), skipper of Mutua Madrilena: 'It was a fantastic day. After what happened to us we just had to go out with clear heads and pray we could do a good job. All of the team who got us back on the water did a great job and we were all very tired when we started, but that may be not such as a bad thing because we just did not think about the past and just focussed on the races. Now we have to just not get too excited, there are so many good sailors out there that it is so easy to get a bad result.'
Dee Smith (USA), tactician Cristabella: 'It feels great to get back into it. We learned a lot today and sailed well. It was great in the second race although the first was more difficult. It really is all about a little bit of everything: driving, trimming, manoeuvres, tactics; if you don’t have the full package in this game you are just not going to be there. We didn’t have it in the first race, but we had enough of it in the second to get back into the race after being pretty deep off the line. We got some good lanes, worked them and found some new speed which was good. I think the boat is situated better than the new boats for the light airs so hopefully we can use that this week.'
City of Alicante Trophy/Audi MedCup Circuit
Standings after two races (Position, Boat, Country, R1, R2, Total Points)
1st TAU Ceramica Andalucia ESP (1,1. 2pts)
2nd Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,4 6pts)
3rd Bribón ESP (3,3 6pts)
4th Quantum USA (4,5 9pts)
5th Cristabella GBR (11, 2 13pts)
6th Platoon powered by Team Germany GER (5,9 14pts)
7th CAM – Caja Del Mediterraneo ESP (6,8 14pts)
8th El Desafio ESP (9, 6 15pts)
9th ONO ESP (8, 12 20pts)
10th CxG Corporacion Caixa Galicia ESP (15, 7 22pts)