Fifteen starters sailed the Audi MedCup Circuit practice race off Alicante with victory going to Terry Hutchinson and the crew of Quantum Racing. Following two practice starts the fleet was released on the third start to sail a two-lap 8-mile long windward leeward course.
Superstitions run deep in some quarters of the sailing world, but American Terry Hutchinson and the crew of Quantum Racing shrugged off two today when they won the practice race for the City of Alicante Trophy, the first regatta of the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit.
While many competitive sailors at all levels would bale out and miss the finish rather than court the bad luck that it is believed visits after winning a regatta’s practise race, so others would refuse to have green on their boat for fear of attracting similar bad omens.
On the green issue Quantum and second placed Desafio bow to the needs of their sponsors' brand colours while Louis Vuitton Cup winning tactician Hutchinson confirms that delivering any winning gun at this formative stage of their new boat’s campaign is a confidence building reward for the long hours their team has put in.
After a wet and breezy weekend the Audi MedCup Fleet had an easy first day of racing with gentle conditions and warm air blowing over their sails. Sunshine, 8-10 knots of Southerly wind and flat water were a welcome break from the cold, wet and windy conditions of the past few days.
The first upwind leg and the subsequent windward beats saw the left hand side of the course favoured. Hutchinson, with Morgan Larsson (USA) calling tactics, steered the new Quantum Racing to a great start off the leeward third of the start line. They sailed most of the way out to the left of the course, in company with Platoon - powered by Team Germany to take full advantage of slightly stronger breeze and wind shift.
Side by side with Spanish entrants, Kiko Sanchez and Fernando Leon’s CAM, Platoon, on only their third day of sailing and steered by triple Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schumann of Germany, pursued the second placed Spanish boat Bribon, winner of the 2007 City of Alicante Trophy and the black and green hulled Quantum around the first turn.
With a small lead Quantum were able to consolidate a little on the second round.
Paul Cayard of the USA and John Cutler of New Zealand proved the Spanish America’s Cup team on Desafio are in good shape, working the green hulled boat that the team built to the 2007 hull form of Judel/Vrolijk in-house in Valencia, in to second place.
Cayard and Cutler came back on the final run, closing down eleven seconds on Quantum Racing to just half a boat length behind.
Hutchinson and the Quantum team shrugged off both superstitions: Terry Hutchinson – helmsman on Quantum Racing:
'It was good but I would not read too much into it. I think all the fleet are slowly working their boats up so this first regatta with this new boat is about learning and not faltering this early in the season. I think we are in good shape. We have sailed a lot with the boat now. We got here on 29th April and have been sailing and working, and sailing and working, so I feel we are a long way on and now it is a matter of trying to stay a couple of days ahead of our competition.'
'Morgan called a great race all the way through. Not too risky, nice and conservative and the boat was going well enough. We have not sailed with each other much, in fact we’ve sailed against each other a great deal. As for steering, I am loving it. It is a lot less stressful, a lot less stressful. As for superstitions we have been working hard and so you take every win you can get, practice race or not.' Augustin Zulueta, general manager and crew Desafio Espanol:
'I never say that the colour green is bad luck – I say its a colour of hope!
We are out here training and keeping the team together on the Audi Medcup Circuit with the TP52. We are very satisfied with our start today, Paul (Cayard) did a great job and we were also in the right place. So it is good for results, but there is still a lot to do – the conditions were quite easy.
This is undoubtedly the most powerful fleet out there in sailing, the place to be. And we have to be here. We want to be up at the top of fleet and today perhaps it is a little more than what we were looking for on the first day, but it is a great way to get motivated looking ahead to the championship.'
Bribon with Dean Barker of New Zealand on the wheels and Canadian Ross Macdonald on tactics faded a little on the top of the second beat when they went too far right, crossing fifth, while Matador with Vince Brun calling the shots rallied to fourth. Bribon’s Ross Macdonald, Athens’ Olympic silver medallist in the Star:
'The boat is going fine. It is going to be so much tougher than last year. We are trying to just keep it real simple here at the start of the season. We learned here last year that the wind can do anything here. It comes and goes in strength as well as direction. Our goal is to have a good season. Here over the first few days you have to try and be safe, there is no need to try and strike it out the park at the start.'
For Platoon powered by Team Germany’s Jochen Schuemann, it was a promising outing considering that they are only just completing the fit out, and today was just their third day sailing. By comparison the new Quantum launched on April 2nd and has been worked up by the crew since April 29th, while Cayard, Cutler and Desafio have had seven days training.
The practice race day sees all racing teams take a guest on board for the race. All but two boats had media guests on board and sailing on the Quantum Racing was Yachting World Technical Editor Matthew Sheahan.
Sailing as a guest on board TAU Ceramica Andalucia, was Swiss professional cyclist Fabian Jeker. Past world champion Jeker a veteran of four Tour de France, four Giro d’Italia and eight Vuelte España races, an Alicante resident had this to say about his day: 'It is the first time I have sailed on a boat in competition and it was great experience. It is clearly a sport you have to excel with your own individual performance but it is also so important to work as a team.' Top ten finishers
1st Quantum Racing, Botin & Carkeek 2008, (Terry Hutchinson, USA)
2nd Desafio Espanol, Judel/Vrolijk 2007/8 (Paul Cayard, ESP)
3rd Platoon powered by Team Germany, Judel/Vrolijk 2008 (Jochen Schuemann, GER)
4th Matador, Judel/Vrolijk 2007 (Alberto Roemmers, ARG)
5th Bribon , Judle/Vrolijk 2007 (Jose Cusi/HRH Juan Carlos, ESP)
6th Cristabella, Judel/Vrolijk 2006 (John Cook, GBR)
7th Artemis, Judel/Vrolijk 2006 (Torbjorn Tornqvist, SWE)
8th Mean Machine, Judel/Vrolijk 2008 (Peter de Ridder, MON)
9th ONO Judel/Vrolijk Judel/Vrolijk 2007 (Inaki Castaner, ESP)
10th CxG Caixa Galicia Botin& Carkeek 2007 (Roberto Bermudez de Castro, ESP)