Quantum Racing sit on the threshold of back to back regatta wins after a second and a first today on the Bay of Palma to go into Saturday's one final race of the 14th Breitling Regatta with a lead of 14 points.
Reeling off 2,2,1,1,2,1 finishes since Wednesday morning the American boat, the only new Botin Carkeek TP52 design this season, may now have a 30 points overall lead on the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit standings, but skipper Terry Hutchinson (USA) again pledged that he and the Quantum Racing crew will be relentless in their pursuit of improvement and the overall Circuit title.
'Every day we just try to get better and it would be garbage now to think that we cannot improve, so I will be relentless in the pursuit of improvements, and I will impress that upon the guys strongly, and I think that everyone takes that approach.' emphasised Hutchinson again in the later afternoon sunshine on the buzzing dockside today in Puerto Portals.
Over another day of near perfect but challenging sea-breeze conditions, building from nine knots during the first contest to 15 knots in the second race, Quantum Racing finished second behind Guillermo Parada (ARG) and the 2007 King’s Cup wining team on Matador in the first race, and then triumphed in the second race ahead of the current MedCup champions Artemis (SWE), to extend their overall regatta and circuit leads.
On a course area which consistently yielded a benefit on the right side of the track, Hutchinson and crew worked hard and smartly, building from a pair of good starts, to reap that dividend.
At the top of the second beat on the first race they left just enough daylight in the lifting breeze as they lined up for the final turn for Matador to seize the inside boat advantage around the buoy, and they had to settle for a close second only five seconds behind the Argentinian boat.
Ricardo Simoneschi (ITA) and the Audi powered by Q8 (ITA) crew took third place for the second time this week.
While the race course was slightly one-sided, there were no shortage of opportunities in the form of stronger pressure and wind shifts to gain places, especially downwind.
After an eighth in the first race, John Kostecki (USA) helped guide Artemis on a valuable ascent from eighth to second, taking five places on the first run. In the overall Breitling Regatta standings, the strong performance on their adopted home waters from Matador meant the team whose Marseille regatta was so badly marred by damage to their boat, hit their twin targets for the day: wresting second place in the regatta from Platoon powered by Team Gernany (GER) -now six points behind in third - and elevating themselves to fifth overall on the Audi MedCup Circuit standings.
The 30 points gap that Quantum Racing now has may look significant, but consider that Mean Machine (MON), the winners this season in Alicante and the 2006 champions, have unexpectedly landed 43 points from three races since Thursday morning, and so Quantum's margin remains very tenable. Terry Hutchinson (USA), Skipper-helmsman of Quantum Racing:
' You can always get better! We led the first race but Matador were going well and we chose the deeper of our two jibs for that second beat and the breeze built a little which was a bit difficult then, Matador are fast down wind and slipped past us there, but always our mode is consistency and good sailing and we talked through the things we can do better- technically driving the boat downwind, communication: understand what the guy is saying, sail calls, bottom mark decision, little incremental improvements to work on.'
'I’m happy we are sailing well but I’m not relaxing either. I’m very respectful as always of our competitors so I just know we have to keep the whole thing moving forward.' Chris Hosking (AUS), Boat captain, Artemis:
'It is a lot tighter than it has been in previous years. There are any number of good boats out there, and you look at what happened to Mean Machine in Marseille and to them yesterday, that is an unfortunate day, but they are an excellent team and I know they will keep fighting through to the end of the year, but that is capable of happening to any boat in this fleet, it could be us tomorrow, it could be Quantum.' Guilermo Parada (ARG), Skipper-helm of Matador (ARG):
' The level on the race course is most definitely higher. We have had the proof of that with our boat which is the same as last year, but we have had to raise our speed target since we are sailing faster and faster by the day. The boat is sailing at least three tenths of a knot faster upwind than last year which is about 4% faster; a huge difference in this kind of fleet. That makes the difference of whether you cross a boat or can get to the more favoured side. You can also see how the boats in the fleet that haven’t been able to do the whole circuit are paying the price for it, because being able to keep up the rhythm and spending hours on the water with these people is what makes it easier for us to keep bringing up our own level as well.' Ray Davies (NZL), Mean Machine (MON):
'We have to work on the starts and speed and not make silly mistakes, we ar definitely in the top group for speed, get off the line in clean air, we are sometimes a bit conservative which takes us away from the favoured side. You have to weigh up if you go for the risky move or the safe option – sometimes when the course is so favoured the risky move is still the safe option! It’s a real tricky balance.' Results 14th Breitling Regatta, Puerto Portals, Mallorca - Regatta standings after nine races
1. Quantum Racing USA (11,2,2,8,2,2,1,1,2,1, 32)
2. Matador ARG (3,1,3, 9, 7, 1,9,9,1,3, 46)
3. Platoon powered by Team Germany GER (7,4,6,7,6,6,2,2,7,5, 52)
4. Artemis SWE (4,11,5,5,10,3,3,3,8,2, 54)
5. Mean Machine MON (1,5,1, 2,1,7,15,14,14,6, 66)
6. Mutua Madrileña ESP (2,12,8, 4,5,5,7,5,10,10, 68)
7. Bribón ESP (5,10,4,1,11,12,12,6,9,4, 74)
8. Audi Q8 ITA (15,7,15,3,8,4,13,10,3,13, 91)
9. Rusal Synergy RUS (12,3,13,13,14,9,5,4,12,7, 92)
10. El Desafio ESP (14,13,14,6,3,14,6,11,4,9, 94) Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 -
Standings after 34 races in Alicante, Marseille, Cagliari and Mallorca
Place, Boat name, Nationality, Points
1. Quantum Racing USA 161
2. Artemis SWE 191
3. Bribón ESP 209,2
4. Mean Machine MON 224
5. Matador ARG 238
6. Platoon by Team Germany GER 242
7. Mutua Madrileña ESP 268,4
8. El Desafío ESP 301
9. CxG Corporación Caixa Galicia ESP 328,6
10. Audi Q8 ITA 357
Blog of the day: Frank O'Leary (IRL), CXG Caixa Galicia http://2008.medcup.org/blog/