After their dark disappointment in Marseille where they finished 11th, Peter de Ridder and his Mean Machine returned to produce something a little closer to a virtuoso performance on Sardinia's Gulf of Cagliari today when they won two of the first three races of the Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy regatta. Added to a fourth place from Race 2 today, the 2006 MedCup Champions lead the regatta standings by four points.
The MedCup Circuit’s return to Italy for the first time since 2006 in Punta Ala, Tuscany when Mean Machine won overall, was rewarded with a great opening day of solid, building sea breezes which remained solid until early evening to allow the target of three races to be met with relative ease.
While the conventional wisdom leading into the first race today was that the race track off the Sardinian capital might promise one way traffic up the right side of the course, it was Mean Machine’s after-guard of Ray Davies (NZL) and Tom Dodson (NZL) who reckoned that the left bias to the line was enough to launch them to the front.
De Ridder (NED) on the helm nailed a great start at the left, pin end of the line and they crossed the fleet clear ahead two thirds of the way up the first beat. Racing in 10-13knots of SE’ly sea breeze the victors from the season’s first regatta in Alicante, went on to win by a comfortable one minute and three seconds.
The breeze built to a brisk 16-18 knots for Race 2 Quantum Racing (USA), when the fleet was just a hearbeat late to the gun, helm Terry Hutchinson (USA) made a solid start, and tussled with series leading Bribon (ESP) around the windward mark first time up on the windward-leeward loop, but with their nose ahead at the first turn Quantum were able to lead at each mark, going on to their third winning gun of the season so far. But Quantum’s early lead at the regatta was to be temporary.
The third race belonged to Mean Machine while Quantum made up places to take sixth. A tricky first run, offered another blast of air coming down off the windward mountains and shore-side flatlands to provide not onlymore wind but a more favorable heading to the leeward mark down that left side of the course.
In the second race it was Riccardo Simoneschi (ITA) and the Audi Q8 team who hooked into one of these turbo boosts which vaulted them seven places on the first run.
The bonus was spread wider in this third race, but Sergiy Pichugin (RUS) and the team on the new Rusal Synergy (RUS) were quick to spot the advantage and pulled up down this first run from fourth to steal the lead from Platoon powered by Team Germany (GER).
The ever vigilant Davies and Dodson partnership were quick to hitch the same ride too, and accelerated from ninth to third.
On the final run Mean Machine lived up to their name to spoil the Russians hopes of win on their first day out with their newly purchased boat, the former USA-17 and it was the pink flames on the Mean Machine bow and kite which broke the finish line first for the second time today.
The Russians landed at second and the Argentine boat Matador took third, with Francesco Bruni (ITA) calling tactics, an altogether sweeter feeling than Race 2 when their jib Cunningham exploded and they struggled round to last place.
Is there an air of deja-vu in Cagliari this sunny evening, a reminder of Mean Machine’s dominant win in May’s first regatta of the Audi MedCup Circuit in Alicante, or even Punta Ala in 2006?
Certainly in the flat water and moderate sea breeze conditions they were always one of the quickest boats on the water, along with Quantum who lie second overall at this regatta, thanks to their 3,1,6 today which was enough to overhaul Artemis (SWE) for second also on the overall Audi MedCup Circuit leader-board. Bribon’s (ESP) 4,2,5 today keeps them at the top of the Circuit standings after 19 races, leading now by 10.8 points. Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy - Results after three races
1 Mean Machine MON (1,4,1, 6)
2 Quantum Racing USA (3,1,6, 12)
3 Bribón ESP (4,2,5, 11 )
4 Matador ARG (7,8,3, 18)
5 Artemis SWE (9,5,4, 18)
6 Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,11,7, 20)
7 Audi powered by Q8 ITA (8,3,10, 21)
8 Platoon by Team Germany GER (5,10,8, 23)
9 El Desafío ESP (6, 7, 11, 24)
10 Rusal Synergy RUS (13,13,2 28) Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 - Standings after 19 races in Alicante, Marseille and CAGLIARI.
1 Bribón ESP 91,2
2 Quantum Racing USA 102
3 Artemis SWE 110
4 Platoon powered by Team Germany GER 122
5 Mean Machine MON 125
6 Matador ARG 135
7 El Desafío ESP 159
8 Mutua Madrileña ESP 171,4
9 CxG Caixa Galicia ESP 176,6
10 Audi TP52 powered by Q8 ITA 180 Http://www.medcup.org