Conde de Godó Trophy being held in Barcelona, Spain starts on Monday September 12th and is the fifth and final regatta in the Audi MedCup Circuit.
Barcelona, the Olympic city of 1992, looks set to witness the closest finish to the Audi MedCup Circuit for four years when the TP52’s of the 52 Series shoot out for the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit title.
Quantum Racing, skippered by America’s Cup winner Ed Baird (USA), need a solid final regatta if they are to hold off the advances of Italy’s Audi Azzurra Sailing Team and lift the title.
'We are really looking forwards to Barcelona. We have a job to do there and are confident we can do it. When we look back to Cartagena our feeling is very much not to panic, if there is nothing particularly broken then we don’t have to worry about trying to fix things, but just to focus on trying to the do the things that we know we do well better.
We have an exceptional team who are used to closing out major titles, like the America’s Cup and World Championships and so I don’t think pressure or confidence will come into it.' Opens Ed Reynolds (USA), Quantum Racing’s project manager, 'I think that we have to make sure we are fully optimised for the conditions expected, which might be something like 12-16kts sea breezes with the choppy seas we saw last year. Those conditions I certainly feel are not a weakness for us.'
Region of Murcia Cartagena Trophy, 26 08 2011 - Audi MedCup Circuit 2011 - http://www.carloborlenghi.net/
Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, skippered by Gullermo Parada (ARG) with Vasco Vascotto (ITA) as strategist and Francesco Bruni (ITA) as tactician have proven the most consistent 52 Series team over the second half of this season. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team have just finished second overall at the Region of Murcia-Cartagena Trophy in August after July’s Region of Sardinia Trophy off Cagliari where they also finished runners up. They are the only team to have been on the podium at each and every regatta this year.
The Audi Azzurra Sailing Team crew which last year as Matador finished third overall, only five points shy of Quantum Racing who were second in 2010, show every sign of finishing their season on a high. They could press Quantum Racing right to the wire heading into 2011’s Barcelona finale only 3.5 points behind long time Circuit leaders Quantum Racing.
'We will arrive in Barcelona very highly motivated, with a high morale with great support. We know that the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Audi and Roemmers Family members will all be there to support us, and that's why we want to finish the season in the best possible way. We expect to have a good week.' Offers Guillermo Parada (ARG), Audi Azzurra Sailing Team’s skipper.
Since winning the Cascais Trophy in Portugal the American team Quantum Racing have topped the overall standings after each of the four regattas so far this season but their lead was effectively halved in Murcia last month.
The final regatta of the season, the Conde de Godó - Barcelona Trophy starts in just one week’s time when the battle for the title might even become a three cornered one as the German flagged team on Udo Schuetze’s Container are still only 11.5 points behind the 52 Series Circuit leaders.
'The title victory in the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit is far from over. A good series could easily get back 10 or 15 points of Quantum Racing’s lead.' Says Markus Wieser (GER) skipper-helm of Container, ' It's all in their hands for sure, but they also didn't sail so well in the past. We think the hardest competitor to beat will be Bribon again, because they are the fastest boat in light air. Even they might be able to grab the overall trophy. The beat us by 18 points in Cartagena and Quantum Racing by 13.5. So, why not do so again?'
Indeed Bribon, racing in the home water of owner Jose Cusi, is far from out of the title race, 18 points off the Circuit lead in fourth place. Recent winners of the Region of Murcia-Cartagena Trophy, they are considered the form team in light to moderate airs.
The schedule for the title shoot out regatta differs slightly from the four preceding events, with the official Practice Race on Monday September 12th and points racing for the 52 Series starting on Tuesday 11th.
As it stands it is certainly not easy to predict which team will be crowned 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit champions.
Historically Barcelona’s Garbi sea breeze is slightly less reliable in September but will usually make an appearance, blowing anywhere between 11 and 16-17kts from around 200 to 210 degrees. The gradient breeze is sometime the brisk Easterly Levante which has marked the weather in the last few days in the Catalonian capital.
Different TP52s have won in each regatta this season and it would not be a surprise to find a fifth boat winning the Conde de Godó - Barcelona Trophy. The fleet is due to be at full strength with the return of Tony Langley’s Gladiator.
In the 40 Series it is not as open. Spain’s Iberdrola Sailing Team start in Barcelona with a lead of 28 points, but they will be racing in a class of six Soto 40’s following the arrival of Toni Guiu and Àlex Laplaza's new boat www.cruiser-racer.com
, which will make its debut on the team’s home waters.
Britain’s Ngoni became the only team other than the Iberdrola Sailing Team to win a regatta this season when they won in Murcia. Tony Buckingham’s crew have designs on the second place which is presently held by Noticia IV.
'I really think that after our performance in Murcia that it is do-able. Our main thing will be to try and put boats between us and Noticias in as many races as we can, and from that point of view a six boat fleet can only be better for us. Certainly in Cagaliari I felt like Noticias was a little quicker in the big breeze at times, but we were certainly fast in Cartagena and go to Barcelona with a lot of confidence. We feel like we have improved at each regatta so look forward to continuing with that.'
Said Kevin Sproul (GBR), Ngoni’s skipper who will hand the helm back to owner Buckingham for Barcelona.
Portugal's Bigamist crew return to race in Barcelona and will be sailing onboard XXII, with Star Olympic sailor Afonso Domingos as skipper-helm along with programme owner Pedro Mendonça. Skippers Quotes: Agustín Zulueta (ESP), Iberdrola Sailing Team’s project manager:
'We made several mistakes in Cartagena from which we draw some conclusions: first of all our sails have suffered a lot throughout the 30 races that we've done till now, and some need to be replaced. Secondly the level of this fleet has evened out now which means that if we make mistakes they beat us. So it is very clear to us what we have to do in Barcelona.' Markus Wieser (GER) skipper-helm of Container (GER):
'We worked a lot on our sails after Cartagena especially on the light wind gennaker and built a new A2 on out last slot. We hope we can improve on the light air performance now compared to the last regatta because in general we're expecting even lighter breezes than in Cartagena.'
'We should not be too disappointed after Cartagena keeping in mind that this is still our first TP 52 season and most of the other team have much more experience with these boats than us. The season's opener and Marseille were just great with our boat speed in heavy winds, but we simply couldn't anticipate the necessary trim and set-up changes for medium to light air quick enough. Let's say the others learned their lessons better than we did. But we'll keep going and do the best we can to fighting back in Barcelona.'
'The victory in the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit is far from over. A good series could easily take out 10 or 15 points of Quantum Racing’s lead. It's all in their hands for sure, but they also didn't sailed too well in the past. We think the hardest competitor to beat will be Bribon again, because they are the fastest boat in light air. Even they might be able to grab the overall trophy. The beat us by 18 points in Cartagena and Quantum Racing by 13.5. Why not do so again?'
'Although racing is so tight in this class it always comes down to boat speed. If you are just that little bit too slow you can't act anymore and deliver your strategy and tactics, you have to then react. And this doesn't work out well quite often. If you are fast enough, you manage to be in front once, and then the rich are getting richer most of the time.' Jochen Schuemann (GER) skipper-helm of Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One:
'Although we were not that happy with rank four in Cartagena we missed the podium with just a tiny little margin to Quantum. This showed that we were on the right track and our victory in Cagliari was not only by luck.'?'We can't do much about our downwind weakness in medium to strong breeze, because we had used all our slots to build new sails already. Otherwise we certainly would try a different A4. But we are developing a new gennaker which we hope to use at the Worlds in Porto Cervo later the year.'?'Our goal is a podium finish in Barcelona. We know we missed the Circuit podium already but every single race and every single trophy is important to us. The conditions in Barcelona seem to be quite uncertain from very lttle winds with lumpy seas to strong Tramontanta - everything could happen. So you need to strength your general performance and not concentrating on specific conditions.' 'It will be an interesting regatta for the overall win of the season, with Quantum, Azzurra and even Container still in striking distance.' Audi MedCup website