Five TP52's sailed off Alicante today taking advantage of the modest winds and ignoring the rain as they learn their rigs and boats. The new boats sailing today were Ricardo Simoneschi’s Audi Sailing Team powered by Q8 (ITA), Vasco Vascotto (ITA) and crew on Mutua Madrilena, and the others were Alberto Roemmers’ (ARG) Matador, and José Cusi’s Bribon with Dean Barker (NZL) getting used to the helm, and the Russian boat Valars (ex Mutua Madrilena).
As the regatta village takes shape on shore in Alicante, in preparation for the season’s first AUDI MedCup Circuit regatta next week, there were five TP52’s on the water today training and tuning, sometimes in very close company with one another.
With the wind between nine and 11 knots, flat seas with just a small chop, the boats were primarily speed testing. Mutua Madrilena and Matador paired together and Bribon and Audi Q8 worked together.
All four seemed most intent on learning their new rigs, and Mutua Madrilena and Matador sent a crew up the mast to re-tune their diagonals.
'For us it was great to have boats of this calibre on the water, all are potential winners of the AUDI MedCup Circuit.' Reported Nacho Postigo (ESP), Mutua Madrilena’s navigator, 'I am sure that this season will be even tougher to win, if that is possible. At the moment we are most concerned with setting the rig because it is a different concept for us and we need to be learning the numbers and settings. With the calibre of people on the water, and the experience in our boat we have noted progress today.'
There was further confirmation that USA-17, BMW ORACLE Racing will not appear before Marseille.
Juliet Di Biase, BMW ORACLE Racing's Spanish press officer explained:
'At the present time BMW Oracle Racing is concentrated on the America’s Cup project. All our resources are concentrated on it and so we sent many people, designers and key crews to the U.S.A, to follow the development of the new boat. We’ll be in Marseille, at the second regatta of Audi MedCup Circuit, with Larry Ellison on the helm. Our motto is quality and not quantity'. Interview with Artemis owner and current MedCup champion Torbjörn Tornqvist.
In 2007 he was usually the picture of coolness. Swede Torbjörn Tornqvist took to the MedCup Circuit like he was born to it, albeit with the undivided attention of Russell Coutts to keep the Artemis owner and helm right.
The Circuit winning owner made an early decision to give himself and his champion team the best possible chance of winning again in 2008 and ordered a new boat. Coutts’ role with BMW ORACLE Racing meant a change of designer to Reichel/Pugh was in order, working in tandem with a new boat for his team’s owner Larry Ellison.
Tornqvist, who is a successful Geneva based oil broker, has had a busy winter and met up with the new Artemis 08, which was built by Mick Cookson and his Auckland team, for the first time last weekend in Valencia. Did Tornqvist feel any obvious difference between last year’s boat and the new Artemis 08?:
' There is no reason to believe the boat will be slower than last year at all. It is difficult to say it feels much different, we think it will be faster but I think it will be more to do with sail development and the way that we sail the boat, and not the boat sail itself.' He contends: What similarities are there between the two boats?
' Their boat is not yet ready and will not be ready for the first regatta,' he maintains, ' but they are very similar other than some detail. There are similarities but some differences. We are sharing know-how, for example in the sail programme.' Coutts was undoubtedly central to the overall success of the 2007 Artemis programme, has his influence been as profound this time:
'Russell is always influential but has been quite occupied with the America’s Cup and Oracle and the situation with Alinghi and so he has not been that involved with the day to day running of it.' Says Tornqvist,
' We discussed at the end of last season what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go, and a few things we wanted to change. Russell is always involved but it is a good team and many things are left to other people on the team.'
Read the full interview by Andi Robertson at http://2008.medcup.org/news/?id=78 http://2008.medcup.org/