A perfect day for Quantum Racing and a black day for Mean Machine sees the Audi MedCup Circuit leaders take over the lead of the 14th Breitling Regatta off Puerto Portals, Mallorca.
Their best Coastal Race of the Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 season so far, winning both sections of today’s 34.2 miles passage back and forth across the Bay of Palma not only increased Quantum Racing’s lead at the top of the Circuit leader board to 23 points of clear daylight. But as erstwhile leaders of the 14th Breitling Regatta Mean Machine had a day they would rather forget, so the American boat also earned a lead of 11 points in the regatta standings.
After a delay of one hour and 35 minutes to wait for the light sea breeze to settle to a solid direction, the first start and first beat set the shape of the race.
While Terry Hutchinson (USA) made a well timed, confident start mid line on Quantum Racing (USA), Mean Machine (MON) were still three and a half boat lengths shy of the pin end of the start line on the gun, fighting to get their upwind Code Zero out.
Quantum hurt in an initial loss when the left did not pay but were able to use the wind shifts and better pressure on the middle of the first beat to best effect to round the first mark with a small lead Valars (RUS) and third placed Jochen Schuemann (GER) and the crew of Platoon Powered by Team Germany (GER). After the German boat overhauled Valars on the first downwind leg, the day belonged to Quantum Racing and Platoon.
The second beat was no less shifty and difficult to read, and near the top Platoon were able to hook into a right shift to get inside Quantum Racing at the windward turn where the fleet bore away to kite reach across the Bay to the Sech island turning mark.
The breeze pattern across the Bay proved remarkably similar to last year, and with the Scoring Gate midway mark set off the entrance to the Puerto Portals marina, in full view of the Audi MedCup Circuit regatta village, the breeze there was at its most fickle. Down the bottom of what had become a slow, sticky run in 5 knots of breeze Platoon made the mistake of gybing a little early for the line, and just allowed an opportunity which Morgan Larson (USA), Quantum Racing’s tactician was happy to seize.
The Circuit leaders were able to steal the first place by two or three metres, 11 seconds. The crucial advantage, leading away from the gate was Quantum’s.
From there Platoon again fought back as the breeze built to 16 knots and lifted on the tight reach across the Bay, and they were just a boat length behind Quantum at the Arenal turn, but again Quantum’s crew work was the slicker, gybe-hoisting on to their reaching kite, while Platoon stalled momentarily in their gybe. By the finish, back in the light, fickle breeze off the Portals marina, Quantum Racing had worked through to be over three minutes ahead of Platoon, with Artemis (SWE) taking third, gaining six places on the first half of the race. With two second places Platoon powered by Team Germany (GER) swapped places with Mean Machine, rising to second place in this 14th Regatta Breitling, while Matador’s pair of ninths today leave them to third with two days of racing to go.
Having just yesterday got themselves back into joint second place in the overall Regatta standings Mean Machine’s 15th and then 14th today leaves the 2006 MedCup Champion team with a mountain to climb, again with just two regattas left after Saturday.
Ian Moore (IRL), Quantum Racing's navigator recalled:
'The first beat was really difficult. We wanted to go left, like everybody did, but we decided that there was slightly better wind pressure up the middle of the course. We got a great start out of the middle of the line, blew off everyone to the right of us and were living well above everyone to leeward and then it went quite left and we could not live with it, and made big losses but we stuck it out and lived with it, a minute or so making big losses, tacked over with a really great lane to the right, suddenly all the guys to the left of us were in no pressure and we were right back in the hunt. We were winning, we were deep, we were winning, all on the first beat. It was about shifts and pressure. The rest of the day went pretty much exactly to plan.'
Moore continued: 'In fact everything we said in the forecast and the geography of the day, happened. I have never been so right about the wind and what was going to happen geographically in any race in ant regatta. It did exactly what we expected it to do, going light - as it did last year with that big light patch around Portals - and increasing as you go across the Bay to Arenal. That was the breeziest part of the day. When you have that left hand sea breeze blowing like it did today then the right hand corner is always light.
Morgan (Larson), unbelievably, had never sailed here before so he brings fresh eyes to it, he can be a bit more open minded about it, it was a really good combination today. We needed to get a good result and unfortunately for Mean Machine they did not have a great day. But obviously a very good points wise for us, but you would not wish it on any one but it helps in the overall and in the regatta.'
Tom Dodson (NZL), Mean Machine's strategist explained:
'At the start we wanted the left side of the course and we wanted the Code Zero to get there, but unfortunately you lose a little bit of manoeuvrability, so we got buried there, pretty badly, but going the right way - we thought - and probably the fleet thought too, but when the breeze started going right then that was pretty much against anything that we had thought about, and that put us pretty deep. We fought our way up the second beat and then it went left and we were just on the wrong side most of the day.
The shame is that this is a double points and races you can’t discard. And we had got so far back up the Circuit leader board, as well, but that’s harsh it about these Coastal Races, but that is the rules and we all know it. And then once you do get behind, after the first windward-leeward, it just gets to be a bit of a one way track. There is not a lot of coming back.'
He says the team will bounce back again: 'So we just need to wear this, like we did in Marseille, and start winning a few inshore races. We seem to be used to coming back, and all you need is one good day again to get rolling. Some of these guys today are feeling pretty good about themselves after having a good day, and we have been there, so all you need is one good day, but for us it is pretty hard to look at these points from today, and figure out what to do. I think these two days, in Marseille and here, will prove importantIf any team can come back from this, then it’s this one. As a crew we’ll be out there fighting tomorrow, like we always are. The boat is going well and we are sailing it well and that hasn’t changed.'
Breitling Regatta - General standings, 7 races 8 results
1. Quantum Racing USA (11,2,2,8,2,2,1,1, 29)
2. Platoon powered by Team Germany GER (7,4,6,7,6,6,2,2 40)
3. Matador ARG (3,1,3, 9, 7, 1,9,9, 42)
4. Artemis SWE (4,11,5,5,10,3,3,3 44)
5. Mean Machine MON (1,5,1, 2,1,7,15,14 46)
6. Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,12,8, 4,5,5,7,5 48)
7. Bribón ESP (5,10,4,1,11,12,12,6 61)
8. Rusal Synergy (12,3,13,13,14,9,5,4 73)
9. Cristabella GBR (8,6,9,11,4,10,10,15 73)
10. Audi Q8 ITA (15,7,15,3,8,4,13,10 75) Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 - Standings after 33 races in Alicante, Marseille, Cagliari and Mallorca
1. Quantum Racing USA 158
2. Artemis SWE 181
3. Bribón ESP 196,2
4. Mean Machine MON 204
5. Platoon by Team Germany GER 230
6. Matador ARG 234
7. Mutua Madrileña ESP 248,4
8. El Desafío ESP 288
9. CxG Corporación Caixa Galicia ESP 311,6
10. Cristabella GBR 337