Audi MedCup Marseille Trophy will potentially witness a Sunday showdown for the 52 Series after an emphatic coastal race victory by Udo Schuetz’ Container which ensures they go into the one scheduled race of the circuit's second regatta of the season with a lead of just 1.5 points ahead of world champions Quantum Racing.
Container has now overhauled Quantum Racing’s (USA) regatta lead with a cushion of 8.5 and seven points respectively placing themselves third overall. The top duo have stacked the odds very much in favour of one of the two of them winning the regatta.
In the 40 Series fleet two wins from today’s three races keeps the visiting South American crew of Patagonia by Negra (ARG/URU) in contention for the 40 Series French title, trailing Cascais Trophy winners Iberdrola (ESP) by only three points.
In NW’ly breezes which opened the racing day shifty, unsettled and varying from six to thirteen knots, but built to a proper 18-21kts of classic Marseille Mistral, Iberdrola’s 3,1,3 for the day was bettered by Patagonia by Negra, which is skippered by Nicolas Gonzalez (URU). The double winners of the South American Circuit finished 1,3,1 to also ensure that the odds are now very much in favour of either Iberdrola or Patagonia by Negra lifting the Marseille Trophy for the class.
The 52 Series coastal race in Marseille is often a classic, and today’s 35 miler east to a leeward turn at Cassis delivered adrenalin pumping action, excitement and intrigue right until the end.
Container, steered by Wieser with Hamish Pepper (NZL) calling tactics and Marc Lagesse (RSA) navigating, was quick downwind and up to overhaul long time leader Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA) from the leeward turn, going on to win by 1 minute and 15 seconds as they surfed across the finish line at the entrance to Marseille’s historic harbour. Container win their first race of the season, the 1.5 points bounty coastal race, ensuring that all eight TP52’s have now won at least one race this season.
The recovery of the day, that of Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One(FRA/GER) was not only spectacular in its magnitude but proved to have a bearing on the standings between Quantum Racing and Container. The Franco-German team were lying third on the downwind long leg when they caught a large fish on their rudder blade. They had to drop their spinnaker and back up to remove it, dropping to eighth. But a long tack offshore on the final beat back allowed them to get back up to third place, finishing just behind blue sistership Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA).
But with Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One crossing in front of Quantum Racing today the American team find themselves needing to have one boat between them and Container to win the Marseille Trophy. 40 Series
Patagonia by Negra won the first race of the day for the 40 Series fleet from an intriguing heat which saw big changes in wind direction and strength until the Mistral breeze seemed to establish itself better on the final leg. Three of the five strong fleet were over the start line early. Only Patagonia by Negra and Inaki Castaner's Noticia IV (ESP) started cleanly. but the Spanish boat was forced way out to the right on the first beat and struggled therafter.
At the top end of the shifty second beat Ngoni (GBR) closed right up to Patagonia by Negra and chased the South American boat around the final mark. Tony Buckingham's British crew were ahead momentarily on the last downwind but the South Americans held their nerve to win with Ngoni second.
Circuit leaders Iberdrola triumphed as the Mistral wind kicked in to give the most spectacular and physcially testing racing of this French leg of the Audi MedCup Circuit yet. With 21-22kts in the gusts, but still with some big windshifts and bends, the Spanish team may have lead up both windward legs, but Patagonia by Negra - winners of the previous heat - got themselves into the lead at the final turn.
Iberdrola, made a perfect text book hoist at the bear away in the blustery conditions and were able to jump back into the lead. The disappointment of the South American team on Patagonia by Negra was heightened still further when their spinnaker halyard slipped when they were two thirds of the final run, allowing Noticia IV to surf through to steal second.
Iberdrola went into the third heat with a lead of five points but found themselves on the wrong side of the first beat. Noticia IV steered by Inaki Castaner lead all the way through to the final run when Patagonia by Negra got through. Ed Baird (USA), Skipper, Quantum Racing (USA):
'We had a pretty good start but it´s been a little disappointing because we picked the wrong side in the first leg. We managed to get back to the group down the run. It seems that we picked the wrong way underneath the island downwind a little bit, lost everybody at one point. Then we broke our spinnaker and had to catch up from there. It was long and crazy but we got back into the group. We were third and then the red boat came from their position and crossed us by two lengths. That´s the point that made the difference in the overall standings. We have one more race tomorrow and we hope to have a good opportunity to do a good job.' José María Torcida (ESP), Skipper, Iberdrola Team (ESP):
'Three races are almost 50% of the trophy. Patagonia cut two points, but in such a difficult day we´ve held up strong. The first race was tough, with lots of shifts and intensity moments down to five knots. Some boats were going fast in one side and we were really slow in the other, but we saved the race, because we have to remember that we started out of line.
In the second race we hit the start line quite well and defended the side that we were suppose to defend. We had a fight again with Patagonia, the rival to beat in Marseille. In the third race, more of the same again, with Noticia IV ahead. A poor choice in the last run had Patagonia passing us. Then they passed Noticia and cut those two points. There´s one race left, if they win and we finish third, we take the trophy. However, we´ll try to not let that happen and get a win.' Víctor Marino (ESP), strategist, Container (GER):
'Overall, it´s been a really complicated coastal race, with really shifty winds. We hoped it to be more stable, but it didn´t happen. The truth is that we sailed consistently in the middle of the fleet, and got close to the leading pack because our boat was going really fast. We trusted the fact that we were going to be fast with strong winds and it happened that way. We didn´t make any mistakes maneuvering and that´s important. The secret was to get close to the leading boats and use the opportunity that they gave us to pick the favored side
Coming back we chose to sail in the middle, avoiding the sides. Once we were first we covered our position well. It´s been a great job, we improve with windy conditions. The forecast says that tomorrow will be a tough day. We are all quite close and Quantum is a very strong boat. We´ll pay for any mistake we make'. Philippe Mourniac (FRA) navigator Audi Sailing Team powered by All4ONE :
'We were second on the run with the kite to Cassis but we caught a fish of a meter and a half with the rudder! We had to drop the spinnaker and go backwards because after ten minutes we still hadn't got rid of it...So we were last! After Cassis we had already decided we were going to go offshore hoping to have more stable wind than along the coast. It meant no risk cause we thought the wind was going to shift to the left: that wasn't the case, but we've had more stable wind than on the offshore side. There's plenty of things that we still can't do on this new boat: we aren't in control of everything but the potential of all4one is there. We have to learn and progress' Markus Wieser (GER) skipper-helm Container (GER):
'I always said we would win a race soon so it is good to get one under our belts. We sailed well with good upwind speed, just all the time learning to sail the boat better and better.' Marc Lagesse (RSA) navigator Container (GER):
'It was great to win. We have had a few second places, so to get a win is great. It was not an easy race at all. The first beat we ended up on the wrong side of the shift, so we rounded quite badly but in true Container style we just kept chipping away, one boat at a time. The guys sailed really well and it was literally just one boat at a time. We had a good run, there were veins of pressure and Hamish did a good job of keeping us in the pressure, and we got to the bottom mark in third place and then it was just a long slog home. It was case that we could sail our way and were able to put ourselves in the pressure, so it helped us, the rich getting richer upwind.
We were happy too with Audi All4One’s comeback because it gives us a few more points on the board on Quantum Racing. They were taking a bit of flyer, but only tacked once and we will have tacked ten times so that is at least ten boat lengths of gain already. Ours is not much of a lead for the Audi MedCup but we will see what tomorrow brings.' Kevin Hall (USA) navigator Quantum Racing (USA):
'It was not our best race ever, but we had a lot of good moments and a few frustrating moments to be disappointed in. Container sailed a really nice race. Before the scoring gate we were right alongside them and chose to peel to the A4 but did not have the smoothest peel, and then actually we were looking at making gains in the low lane all the way across and we were worried about getting up to the mark, so if we had taken a little more risk against the fleet we might have played right around them, but we lost a lot of our gain in the lighter pressure to get up to the mark, but maybe if we had lived with it and said ‘ok we have to put the job up to get there’ it would have been different.
The score was about what it should have been given how the top two boats sailed today. We would have liked to have gone into tomorrow at least tied, but Audi Red played a little spoiler out on the outside, good on them for making it work. And so tomorrow now we need to get a good start and find a boat to put between us.' Marseille Trophy 52 Series Results after eight races:
1. Container (GER), 7+3+4+6+2+3+2+1,5= 28,5 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA), 4+1+1+8+3+4+3+6= 30
3. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 1+7+3+7+5+5+6+3= 37
4. Bribón (ESP), 3+2+6+5+8+1+4+9= 38
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 2+4+7+2+6+6+5+7,5= 39,5
6. Ràn (SUE), 5+5+2+4+4+2+9 (DSQ)+10,5= 41,5 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (EUR), 6+6+8+3+7+8+1+4,5= 43,5
8. Gladiator (GBR), 8+8+5+1+1+7+9 (DNF)+12=47 40 Series Results after seven races:
1. Iberdrola Team (ESP) 3+1+1+2+3+1+3=14
2. Patagonia by Negra (ARG) 4+2+2+4+1+3+1=17
3. Noticia IV (ESP) 5+4+3+1+5+2+2= 22
4. XXII-Marseille (ESP) 1+3+5+3+4+5+5=26
5. Ngoni (GBR) 2+5+4+5+2+4+4=26 Audi MedCup website