After winning Thursday’s 30 miles coastal race by a comfortable margin, there was a sense of déjà vu yesterday as Dutch owner Peter De Ridder and his crew established an early lead off the start line in race 7 and led at each mark. Their nearest opposition was the current MedCup champion, Sweden's Torbjorn Tornqvist with his new Artemis, but it was on the final windward leg that Mean Machine’s tactical brains, Ray Davies and Tom Dodson called the shifting breeze right and crossed the finish line of what proved to be a well timed shortened course.
Mean Machine left Artemis trailing nearly one minute behind, but the Swedish skipper and crew, lead by John Kostecki as tactician, are now finding their stride with the new Artemis as they learn the optimum rig and sail settings. Three consecutive second places ensure Artemis have climbed to fifth overall.
A fifth win in a row for Peter de Ridder and his team on Mean Machine extended the lead of the 2006 MedCup champions to six points as the City of Alicante Trophy regatta, the first of the 2008 Audi MedCup circuit, moves into its final day. Increasingly De Ridder and team - a potent mix of down to earth Kiwis, American, Dutch and British sailors - look like they could repeat that maiden regatta victory.
Race 7 of the regatta enjoyed a brisk 14-16 knots of southerly breeze. Mean Machine’s strategy was designed as much to ensure a period of clear wind immediately after the start gun as it was in dragging to the favored side of the course. Platoon powered by Team Germany, with triple Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann steering, went to the opposite flank and rounded fourth 33 seconds behind the leaders.
Mean Machine's six points margin over Artemis leaves them a relatively straightforward goal for the final day’s racing. Astern of them Doug de Vos and Fred Howe’s Quantum Racing (USA) are two points ahead of Bribon. Dean Barker and Ross Macdonald delivered a fifth place today for skipper HRH Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, who enjoyed his first day’s racing on the boat on the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit. Winners here last year, Bribon, have two points to make up on Quantum to make second, and have two poitns in hand over Javier Banderas’s Tau Ceramica Andalucia. Tom Dodson (NZL), strategist on Mean Machine:
'To be honest there were some big wind shifts out there and if you used them well it was easy to open up that kind of margin, but the boat does seem to be quick enough. What is perhaps different about this team is that you see other teams win a race or two and their attitude changes a lot, but I think we stay confident together and really stick to it and tough it out. It is a real mix on this boat and of course we have been together for a long number of years and that really helps. We really just concentrate on sailing our boat to the target speeds. It is certainly not like 2006 when we had that little speed edge.' John Kostecki (USA), tactician on Artemis:
'We were not really that well prepared coming here and so there has been a lot of learning to do, but we are getting there now, we have done a lot with the rig tuning, the sails and the set up. We have a great coach in Steve Erickson who is a great set of eyes off the water and has given us some great input. The last boat (now Tau Ceramica Andalucía) was pretty fast and well set up, and seems still to be. From where we are our goal is to just keep improving. We have a good crew and we are starting to work together with more input from everyone. And I am sure that we will reach a stage where I can really just concentrate more on my role as tactician.' City of Alicante Trophy/Audi MedCup Circuit
- Provisional Standings after seven races
1st Mean Machine MON (7, 16, 5, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 33)
2nd Quantum USA (4, 5, 9, 3, 2, 4, 6, 6, 39)
3rd Bribón ESP (3, 3, 1, 4, 4, 12, 9, 5, 41)
4th TAU Ceramica Andalucía ESP (1, 1, 6, 9, 9, 3, 5, 9, 43)
5th Artemis SWE (12, 11, 4, 10, 7, 2, 2, 2, 50)
6th Platoon by Team Germany GER (5, 9, 2, 5, 14, 8, 8, 4, 55)
7th Mutua Madrileña ESP (2, 4, 8, 8, 3, 6, 12, 13, 56)
8th El Desafío ESP (9, 6, 7, 11, 5, 11, 7, 3, 59)
9th Matador ARG (10, 14, 3, 2, 10, 5, 10, 8, 62)
10th Cristabella GBR (11, 2, 15, 7, 12, 10, 4, 11, 72)
Racing for the Alicante leg of the Audi MedCup will continue on Friday with up to three windward leeward inshore races. The first of which is scheduled to start at 13:10. At the conclusion of racing on Saturday afternoon, the winner of this stage of the Audi MedCup will be awarded the City of Alicante Trophy.
Full results - http://2008.medcup.org/results/venue.php?trophy=1