In strong, Mistral winds today on the Gulf of Cagliari it was John Kostecki and the crack Artemis crew who showed, as in Marseille, that they thrive in strong winds when they won the only race. Quantum Racing lead into the final day with a lead of four points.
With the Mistral wind peaking at nearly 30 knots at times only one race, the seventh of the Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy Regatta, could be completed Friday on the Gulf of Cagliari before the race committee sent the fleet of TP52’s back to the dock in the heart of the capital city of Sardinia.
In the blustery conditions which produced spectacular, top speed racing that peaked with one fantastic adrenaline pumping final run to the finish line in more than 25 knots of wind, it was the cool, composed and slick team on Artemis (SWE), lead by John Kostecki (USA) with owner Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) steering which won the race from the rapidly advancing Matador (ARG). But with a fifth place today, compared to the seventh of their nearest rival for the regatta Trophy, Mean Machine (MON), Doug de Vos (USA) and Fred Howe’s (USA) Quantum Racing (USA) eased four points clear at the top of the regatta standings with just one final day of racing planned for Saturday.
Racing is scheduled to start early on the final day at around 10:00hrs. In second Mean Machine are seven points clear of third placed Mutua Madrileña who in turn are just two points up on Bribón.
The conditions today were a sharp contrast to the previous days of sea-breeze racing. With the wind blowing offshore from the north, out of the deep, U-shaped bay which is the Gulf of Cagliari, there was no shortage of challenges for the tacticians as well as a hard, physical test for the crews. And when the crews were sent ashore, so too there was a race to repair damaged sails in short order, just in case the race officers call the fleet back to race again.
Paul Cayard (USA), in concert with navigator Bruno Zirili (ITA) and tactician John Cutler (NZL) earned the early lead for El Desafío (ESP). The green and grey boat of the Spanish America’s Cup team was smartly off the start line near the left, pin end but then called a perfect lay line for the left shifting breeze. That was enough to give them an 18 seconds lead around the first turn, ahead of Thursday’s coastal race winners Mutua Madrileña (CHI) who were bristling with new-found confidence after their recent successes.
But El Desafío’s run was halted when it was discovered their spinnaker had a tear, allowing Mutua Madrileña through to lead. No sooner had the Chilean flagged boat planed flat out into the lead than they suffered exploding kite trouble and had to drop the remains to the deck. The baton was passed back to El Desafío who carried on round the leeward mark in the lead.
On the second beat Artemis got it right, exploiting the left flank again, and were able to round the windward mark 21 seconds ahead of El Desafío as the prelude to an exciting final run to the finish, which proved an acid-test of sail and boat handling in the big breeze.
While El Desafío tripped as they gybed to cover the fast advancing Matador, spinnakers tore on Bribón and then on Mean Machine. Artemis remained relatively trouble free, crossing the finish line 18 seconds ahead of Matador, whilst Mutua Madrileña had long since put their troubles behind them, to finish third, with El Desafio in fourth. Quantum’s fifth was another solid step towards their first regatta win this season, but it could have been better. Tactician Morgan Larson (USA) admitted later, that they, like others had been caught out by the unexpected strength of the Mistral:
'We made a little bit of a strategic error. We did not expect that much breeze. We lost our tender and so we just have a smaller rubber boat, and so we can’t take all our sails afloat and did not have the heavy jib with us. So our speed suffered from that, but we worked hard and Terry (Hutchinson, USA, helm) did a nice job keeping us on our feet. So, we survived, we did not over stand on anything, we did not break anything and I guess it was OK. We had a safe strategy as the lead boats, working the left, it’s good to be leading but it is hard when you feel compromised with the wrong equipment. We were expecting something around 15-20 knots' Paul Cayard (USA), helmsman/skipper of El Desafio, said:
'We sailed pretty darned well but are a bit disappointed. We had a great start and sailed the first beat well. We did not overstand and had good speed and got the left hand shift just perfect, some of the others sailed a little high and over-stood, but then we had a couple of small problems which cost us. First on the first hoist the spinnaker had torn on the hatch, and then we had a another small issue when we gybed with Matador, so that was two mistakes.'
'Overall I am not too happy because we here we have never yet managed to put together a good race, start to finish, either we start bad and recover well, or we start well and make mistakes, like yesterday we could have got to the left with Artemis when they did and we did not go. So we have some work to do before Palma.' Guillermo Parada (ARG), skipper and helm of Matador (ARG), said:
'We are always confident in the breeze, as I think we showed in Marseille, and we were catching Artemis. In n boat handling and speeds the differences are greater in the bigger breeze. In the moderate breeze everyone is going at roughly the same speed, and don’t have any wipeouts.' Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy - Standings after seven races:
1. Quantum Racing USA (3,1,6, 1,1,5,4,5 26)
2. Mean Machine MON (1,4,1,2,3,6,6,7 30)
3. Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,11,7,8,4,1,1,3 37)
4. Bribón ESP (4,2,5, 7,11,2,2,6 39)
5 . Artemis SWE (9,5,4,5,7,4,5,1 40)
6. El Desafío ESP (6, 7, 11,3,6,7,7,4 51)
7. Matador ARG (7,8,3,6,8,10,10,2 54)
8. Caixa Galicia ESP (12,9,9,10,2,3,3, 14 62)
9. Platoon by Team Germany GER (5,10,8,9,5,9,9,10 65)
10. Cristabella GBR (10,6,12,11,9,8,9, 73) Audi MedCup 2008 Circuit - Standings after 23 races
- Alicante, Marsella and Cagliari
1. Quantum Racing USA 118
2. Bribón ESP 119,2
3. Artemis SWE 132
4. Mean Machine MON 149
5. Platoon by Team Germany GER 154
6. Matador ARG 166
7. Mutua Madrileña ESP 185,84
8. El Desafío ESP 186
9. CxG Caixa Galicia ESP 208,6
10. Audi by Q8 ITA 232
Results Section here. http://2008.medcup.org/results