Audi MedCup Circuit 2011 Cascais Trophy official practice race today for the TP52’s was the warm-up prelude to Wednesday’s first races of the circuit.
Cascais has proven in the past that it is a sailor’s venue, one which favours the simple principles of reading windshifts and wind pressure changes rather than necessarily respecting any inherent order of advanced design or technology and So it proved again today.
It may have been the highly polished, well prepared Audi Azzurra Sailing Team which peeled away, bowing to superstitions and choosing not to take the winning gun, but it was the Russian Synergy Sailing Team which have the latest boat launched of the six new builds, who lead off the start line, read the first beat best and who would have finished second had they not followed the same precedent and missed out on finishing.
And in the end it was the only TP52 of the fleet which was not built this last winter, José Cusí’s 2009 build Bríbon (ESP) which took first place in the practice race.
The Synergy Sailing Team have a new Botin Partners boat, a hull sister to Quantum Racing, which only went in the water for the first time on Friday 6th May, delivered directly from Burriana, Spain.
A frantic race to be ready to race was put behind them when they gained the early advantage off the start line and were comfortably ahead at the first windward turn.
Towards the end of the first run Audi Azzurra’s Francesco Bruni (ITA) and Vasco Vascotto (ITA) conspired to find more breeze on the left side, quickly closing the gap on Synergy and rounding ahead. In the 7-9kts of breeze the Vrolijk design was able to stay ahead to the finish Synergy snapping at their stern to the finish.
The W’ly wind was not the strong breezes that Cascais has a reputation for, but there were many small wind shifts and bends, currents, and variations in wind pressure and it was the teams which read these combinations best which profited. Rod Dawson the Kiwi tactician on Synergy called the right, the inshore line and gained the crucial wind bend off the shore and could have built from there.
Bribon with Ross McDonald (CAN) calling tactics and several new crew members this season, were third around the course and able to accept the winning gun just ahead of Nikklas Zennstrom who is steering the new Ran.
In contrast Markus Wieser and the team on Container (GER) were scarcely able to recover from their first start and first big mistake on the Audi MedCup Circuit, finishing sixth of seven.
But it may be a foretaste of the season to come. Small mistakes are likely to be just as costly in the tightly matched fleet with no hiding places.
The Audi Azzurra crew look to be on formidable form, very slick crew work and astute tactics. Anyone looking for an easy ride in the seven boat fleet here was disappointed and the standard is clearly high when the fleet’s most medalled sailor Jochen Schuemann (GER) finished seventh on the maiden race for Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4one.
Points racing starts Wednesday when three windward-leeward races are scheduled for the 52 Series with the time sequence starting at 1300hrs, and the Soto40 fleet having their practice race. Cascais Trophy TP52 Practice Race Results:
First - Bribon (ESP)
Second - Ran (SWE)
Third - Quantum Racing (USA)
Fourth - Container (GER)
Fifth - Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4one
DNF - Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA)
DNF - Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS)
Francesco Bruni (ITA), tactician, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA): 'We are pretty happy with the speed of the boat. We sailed in light conditions and a lot of current, so there were a lot of tactical decisions to make. We have a good feeling with the boat, we tried some new sails and I think that we have the potential. It´s been a good day, we had a bad start but we recovered very well, leading the race at the end. We decided not to cross the line because in Italy we are very superstitious. Teamwork was very good overall, it should be our strength this season because the speed of the boats is very similar. I think that our magic tool is the time that we´ve spent together, it should be good for us'.
Evgeny Neugodnikov (RUS), skipper and helmsman, Synergy (RUS): 'I think that our team did a good tactical job today. We´ve shown good team work and I believe that´s an aspect that we need to keep working on. It´s still early to know how well the boat is going to perform against the rest of teams, but we are definitely satisfied with how we sailed the boat today.'
Francesco Mongelli (ITA) navigator Synergy: 'In fact today was a real boost for us because we have been late and only had the boat in the water for just over a week. But we proved we are ready for racing even if we have all had to put in some long hours and the shore team have been working around the clock to make sure we would be ready on time. Jared Henderson has done a great job project managing things and making sure that we are ready. Otherwise there is nothing much changed with the team since the World Championships. We have no real defined goals for the first few regattas, we just want to sail well. There are fewer boats than in the past, but the level is certainly very high. The boat feels good.'
Jochen Schuemann (GER) helmsman Audi Sailing Team powered by All4one (GER): 'It was a difficult day with very difficult wind conditions, so it is hard to say much about the boat’s performance we are still very busy trying to sort out our boat, and obviously we did not do too well in this practice race which may be a good omen for the future, usually it is a problem which is the other way round. In Barcelona last year we won the practice race and went on to be last, so maybe we were just playing it very safe here, last in the practice race, but we are really looking forward to the real races.' Audi MedCup Website