After the challenges of a new venue, Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy just over two weeks ago, the return to the well known and well liked Bay of Palma for the 14th Breitling Regatta will see a fleet of 15 TP52’s competing when racing starts on Tuesday for the season´s fourth regatta of six.
After the World’s Leading Regatta Circuit has been to France and Italy, this popular Spanish showcase event will see the return to circuit racing of three key Spanish boats: Inaki Castener’s ONO, Javier Banderas and Rafael Diaz’s Tau-Ceramica Andalucia, and the fully repaired CXG Corporacion Caixa Galicia of Vicente Tirado.
The Caixa Galicia team won the Breitling Regatta here last year, a popular and keynote triumph en route to taking second place overall on the 2007 MedCup Circui, but after their boat was damaged in June in Marseille, they were forced to sail a substitute in Cagliari. But, with repairs completed, they are back with their 2007 Botin Carkeek design:
'I think it will be very difficult for us to win here again. The level of the fleet has gone up so much since last year, it is very much more competitive now. But we are very confident in the repair that we have made to the boat but with everything that has gone on with is this season so far, maybe we are not at our best level yet.' admits CXG’s skipper Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermúdez (ESP).
As always during this annual regatta, which marks the real start of the Spanish holiday period, many eyes fall on Bribón, which will have the King of Spain, SM Don Juan Carlos de Borbón on board, skippering the 2007 Vrolijk design which lies second overall on the Audi MedCup 2008 Circuit after three regattas.
The King enjoyed a gentle warm up today with the Bribón crew afloat in light winds which failed to really offer too much of a test for the fleet which ventured out for tuning and training on the Bay. Making the best of the weather today, ensuring they are well prepared for whatever conditions arrive, the Audi Med Cup Circuit leaders Quantum Racing (USA), skippered by Terry Hutchinson (USA), aim to keep to the same formula which ensured they lifted the Audi Region of Sardinia Trophy, as winners of the last regatta.
'We are just looking here to improve just a little on what we have got. It is just a continuous process, trying to keep developing the sails and working with the CFD guys, and the dialogue with the sailors, and the sail makers and trying to come up with what the sailors want for the different modes and I thought in Cagliari we did a really good step in the right direction, and hopefully we can make another little step.
When you are here you are always thinking that it will start out light and build into the mid teens, so you better be able to score well in all wind speeds here. We don’t feel we have a big weakness. We thought we would be struggling in the light airs, but so far we have worked really hard with the sail package to overcome what we have as a big, stiff boat. But, who knows?' says Quantum Racing’s project manager Ed Reynolds (USA). And of Palma's reputation as a track which provides a regular dividend on one side of the course area he says:
'A one way track really favours the fast boat, but the one thing over the years that the Breitling Regatta has shown is that the track on this side of the bay is not quite so one sided. Here if you can get caught out there are some escape routes.'
Second placed in Cagliari, Peter de Ridder’s (NED) 2006 MedCup Circuit winners Mean Machine (MON) proved they can push the current Circuit leaders Quantum Racing
'I am not sure about the weather the first few days. But everyone knows here if it is left you go left and right you go right,' laughs Mean Machine’s navigator Kevin Hall (USA), 'But usually here you are talking about wind around 220-230 degrees, but it depends on the gradient wind around and how much the wind is wrapping around the headland.'
'We are all excited to be here and felt we made some good steps in Cagliari, we performed well there and so we are just looking at the small improvements we need to keep making. At the top of our list is communications on board, especially starting and just finessing our starts a little. And watching the fleet, so that we are ready and able to make whatever changes we need to.'
'We are quietly working to get back to the top of the leader board. You start to think that the top three boats might start to involve each other, but if Quantum start the way they did in Cagliari it is going to be tough.'
Racing starts on Tuesday, with the full 14th Regatta Breitling fleet due to take to the Bay of Palma for the Practice Race which allows local and international media and VIP’s the chance to experience racing on a TP52, and at the same time, gives the 15 teams the chances to check the racing conditions and make final tuning changes. Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 - Standings after 26 races in Alicante, Marseille, Cagliari
1. Quantum Racing USA 129
2. Bribón ESP 135,2
3. Artemis SWE 137
4. Mean Machine MON 158
5. Platoon by Team Germany GER 190
6. Matador ARG 192
7. Mutua Madrileña ESP 200,4
8. El Desafío ESP 207
9. CxG Caixa Galicia ESP 232,6
10. Cristabella GBR 264
For more information visit medcup.org