Region of Murcia Trophy - As the Audi MedCup Circuit returned to Cartagena for the fourth time it was one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the TP52 MedFleet and Circuit which lifted the Trophy.
The Bribon crew sailed an impeccable series, finding a winning level of consistency on a race course which is considered one of the most challenging of the year. In the end Gonzalo Aurajo (ESP) and crew only needed to start the final race to clinch their first regatta title since winning the same Trophy back in 2008.
It was a popular victory in a city which is passionate about the Audi MedCup Circuit which has become a high point of the summer holiday season, and which enjoyed celebrating the Spanish TP52 team’s win.
Bribon proved that the Circuit’s oldest TP52, the 2009 Vrolik design, can win regattas when up against the best of the 2011 clutch of six new build boats.
While Bribon re-established their winning credentials, in the red hot 40 Series regatta it was Tony Buckingham’s Ngoni which broke the regatta winning monopoly of Spain’s Iberdrola Team. After the crew which is lead by Jose Maria Torcida had won in Cascais, Marseille and Cagliari and looked favourites to repeat in Murcia, the British crew of Ngoni showed great speed and strong tactics in the light, fickle sea breezes to build their foundations for what proved to be a comfortable overall victory.
Lead by skipper-helm Kevin Sproul, the Ngoni crew had secured the Region of Murcia Trophy by the close of play Saturday, not requiring a score from the final Sunday’s only race.
A disappointing run of lowly scores in the middle of the regatta for Circuit leaders Quantum Racing -6,4,7-, saw the American flagged crew’s circuit margin shaved completely, but a remarkable win in the high points value Coastal Race saw Ed Baird and crew turn the tide to finish well. The current world champions finished on the podium, with a third place finish behind Audi Azzurra Sailing Team.
Luck was not with the Italian crew who finished second overall and left Cartagena having risen to second on the Circuit. Vasco Vascotto, Francesco Bruni, Gullermo Parada and their international team which sails under the flag of the Costa Smeralda YC maintained their unmatched record as the only crew to have been on the podium in all four regattas, successively in Portugal, France and Sardinia, Italy.
But Parada and the Azzurra crew will struggle to put behind them a painful incident which snatched coastal race victory from them within sight of the grandstand finish in the Cartagena harbour. After battling back to lead the coastal race into the harbour, the Audi Azzurra had momentarily seized the overall lead in the regatta, and the Circuit, but their halyard lock loop failed just as they were keeping Quantum Racing neatly in check. The mainsail slid inexorably down. It took them several minutes to make a running fix, but they suffered a telling loss, allowing Quantum Racing through.
The Soto 40 fleet really came of age at this regatta with close racing between the three top boats, proving how equalised the fleet has become with the early advantage of Iberdrola Sailing Team seemingly evened out.
Ngoni sailed with four crew who had never been on a Soto 40 before, but quickly came to terms with the tactical options with a hat trick of comfortable wins. But equally there were some extremely close finishes, down to as little as one pump on a wave on the finish line.
Two new crews made their debut in the Soto 40 fleet. From Australia, Brent Fowler brought a young crew, average age 24, for their first experience on the Audi MedCup Circuit. Sailing Patagonia by the Australian Soto 40 Team, they pledged to return with a full programme in 2012. Toni Guiu and Alex Laplaza, a Barcelona duo, sailed XXII as www.cruiser-racer.com
as a preliminary to racing their own new boat in Barcelona. Audi MedCup website