The American boat Quantum Racing steered by Terry Hutchinson with Americans Morgan Larson and Mark Mendelblatt lead a great team performance to win the Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy and lead the Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 at the mid-way point of the season.
One year ago this week Terry Hutchinson of the USA was a key member of the Emirates Team New Zealand crew which had only just narrowly lost the 32nd America’s Cup match against Alinghi.
Today off the Sardinian capital of Cagliari, Hutchinson and his team aboard the American entry Quantum Racing, won a regatta of the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit for the first time, lifting the Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy,
Quantum finished third in Alicante in May and fifth in Marseille last month and now, at the theoretical mid-point of the six regatta season, after 26 races the American boat tops the Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 standings.
A great, but intense final day of racing took full advantage of the continuing Mistral winds, blowing between 13-17 knots. An early morning start allowed three sharp windward-leeward to be completed by early afternoon.
It was only on the final run of the final race that Hutchinson and the Quantum Racing crew did just enough to beat Mean Machine (MON), Peter de Ridder’s 2006 champion team, who are guided tactically by Hutchinson’s former key crew-mates ETNZ tactician Ray Davies (NZL), along with navigator Kevin Hall (USA).
At the final windward mark of the regatta’s deciding 10th race, Quantum Racing and Mean Machine sat locked together on the same points aggregate, and only by passing Spain’s America’s Cup Team on El Desafio and Matador (ARG) did Quantum Racing emerge triumphant by two clear points.
With Hutchinson steering, Morgan Larson (USA) as tactician and Athens Olympian Mark Mendelblatt (USA) helping out for the first time as strategist and ‘guest’grinder, Quantum Racing won four of the 10 races and never finished worse than sixth. Sweden’s Artemis, the defending 2007 MedCup Champion finished with a flourish today with a third and two first places to finish third overall at the regatta.
But for hitting the windward mark first time up in the first race, which required a penalty turn, then, second time round, taking a another, Artemis might have made it a final day hat-trick. Even after their first penalty they regained the lead by the second windward mark before their second transgression.
Quantum set their stall for the day out by winning the first race, starting off the left, pin-end of the line. Artemis passed them again on the second beat, but Hutchinson and crew were able to capitalise when the Swedish boat had to make their turns.
In the second race Quantum could only make a sixth when they lost two boats on the final, puffy, shifty run, but the pendulum swung back on the final race when they were able to finish fourth to Mean Machine’s third. Quantum Racing, the only new 2008 Botin & Carkeek design in the TP52 MedFleet and the only boat using Quantum Sails, now leads the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit by 6.2 points ahead of Jose Cusi’s Bribón (ESP) which lead when the Circuit arrived here for the first time ever in Sardinia, last weekend, while Artemis now lies third 7.8 points behind Bribón.
The Gulf of Cagliari has offered the Audi MedCup Circuit fleet a great test across a broad range of conditions, from modest sea breezes for Thursday’s 32 mile coastal race, to 30 knots of Mistral which limited competition to just one race on Friday. Today, racing up in the north of the bay in the offshore breeze there were plenty of wind shifts and small puffs and gusts to satisfy the needs of the tacticians.
'I am a little relieved.' smiled Hutchinson when asked about their win, 'You have to take your hats off to the Mean Machine guys, they kept fighting after the first race, they did nice work in the second and in the third, as did we. Everything that we worked on prior to the regatta has been better here. Out starting was better, our boat was going faster, we are slowly improving our equipment and our sails, to a point where it is very nice, and the faster you get the easier it gets. I think we have to keep working hard at getting more out of our boat.'
'It has been a really good test, but we still leave stuff on the table, and so the good news too is that we can still get better as well. I think everyone can enjoy this win for what it’s worth for a day or two, but there is still 30 races or whatever it is, and so we are only about half way there.' And of the comparisons with last year’s Cup and the fact that he and Mark Mendelblatt, and Ian Moore (GBR, who was navigator on the ETNZ B boat) are on Quantum, helm Dean Barker is on the steering wheels for Bribon and Ray Davies is on tactics and Kevin Hall (USA) for Mean Machine, Hutchinson continues:
'Today it is fun to be talking to Deano (Dean Barker, NZL, former Team New Zealand helm) because a year ago we were all in such a much different environment and so I can promise you that the stresses of this don’t come close to comparing to the stresses of that, so it is always nice to be out there racing. The amazing thing here is that the after guard of Team New Zealand is pretty well represented. It is really good.
And I am really happy for the guys at Quantum, they have invested a massive amount into our programme and the guys support us with our sails, day in day out, fine tuning our sail shapes, learning from our competitors, learning about our boat, picking things that we like and making our sails better.'
'I think our strengths with the boat now are that is does not have not any real weaknesses. Sometimes we will not go so well downwind but we will go really well upwind, and I think that we can still sail better. So I think that it is hard for us to look at the boat and say it has any real weaknesses at the moment.' Tom Dodson (NZL), strategist on Mean Machine, second overall at the Audi Region of Sardinia Regatta, and lying fourth overall on the Audi MedCup Circuit 2008, said:
'For us it’s a hard regatta to analyse too deeply, because we came here with a policy after the last regatta and even after the practice race to try and just take the double bogey option out of the equation for ourselves. So on this track we had here that meant often starting at the non-favored end of the line and relying on our pretty quick boat speed and handling to get up to the second or third or that sort of places where we seemed to hang around.
And I’d say we were unlucky in that it was one way tracks a lot of the time and there was not a lot of bias on the start lines to compensate for that. But on the other hand we were probably quite lucky that when we were on the other side, that did not translate into last place and so I don’t think any other boat or crew could have taken that option.' Juan Meseguer (ESP), trimmer with Artemis (SWE), third overall on the Circuit and at the regatta:
'Today was a good day for us. Nothing is really different for us today. We got the wind shifts better, and whoever was playing the wind shifts better won the regatta. Some times today it was left and some times it was right and so you just had to be patient. I think we were risky in the third race but it worked. And on the whole circuit with 50% of the Circuit done, being third and not far away from the top two, there are still plenty of boats who can win this Circuit, and I still think there are a lot of things can happen.' Final Results - Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy Regatta.
1. Quantum Racing USA (3,1,6, 1,1,5,4,5,1,6,4,37)
2. Mean Machine MON (1,4,1,2,3,6,6,7,4,2,3, 39)
3 .Artemis SWE (9,5,4,5,7,4,5,1,3,1,1, 45)
4. Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,11,7,8,4,1,1,3,2,8,2,49)
5. Bribón ESP (4,2,5, 7,11,2,2,6,6,3,7, 55)
6. El Desafío ESP (6, 7, 11,3,6,7,7,4,5,10,6, 72)
7. Matador ARG (7,8,3,6,8,10,10,2,12,4,5,