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Costa and Harris 8th in Sardinha Cup

by Andi Robertson 19 Apr 01:56 PDT

International duo Pep Costa of Spain and England's Will Harris finished fifth in the Sardinha Cup's brutally cold 775 nautical miles offshore race for the Figaro Beneteau 3 class to take eighth overall in the 21 strong fleet, an excellent result on their first event sailed as a duo racing Costa's Cybèle Vacances-Team Play to B.

After the last Sunday night's start the duo stuck to their own game plan which saw them staying north of the main body of fleet, gambling in lighter winds closer to the centre of a high pressure, a strategy which gave them the race lead round the most northerly mark at Bishop Rock for nearly three days before their lack of time together in the Figaro 3 saw them progressively cede miles and places to some of the most experienced sailors in the class.

At the finish line off Saint Gilles Croix de Vie on the Vendée coast on Thursday evening they were still just less than 16 minutes behind the French race winners Xavier Macaire and Morgan Lagravière (Groupe SNEF) - who were crowned overall victors of the event -and one minute shy of fourth place.

But as preparation for next month's Transat en Double Concarneau Saint Barthélemy the young duo could not be more pleased with the way they sailed.

Harris, who has returned to the Figaro class after a year away to help Costa improve, recalled, "It was a pretty tough race, we are well used to being wet all the time reaching in the Figaro 3 but it was so cold we were sailing in 30 minute spells all the time, with the wind chill it was brutal. You really did start to wonder where the enjoyment was at times. But we were so very focused because we were leading for a long time and you just know in the Figaro class that you can't give away a single metre."

"After the start it seemed logical to us to sail the more direct shorter course at the risk of having lighter winds, but we were more sure there would be some, enough wind and had seen it on the last forecast before we left the dock. We arrived at the Raz du Sein where the high pressure was and we had enough wind to keep moving and as we got towards the Scilly Isles we had no updates of where the fleet were and suddenly we popped out ahead by about three miles ahead before Bishop Rock. Then it was game on and just try and stay at the front. It was purely speed after that for the next 600 miles, just trying to go as fast as possible. We did a good job at that but the experience and knowing the boat, the transitions and gear changing is so crucial and we were a few minutes off here and there. It became about who could change gears best and quickest and we are lacking a bit there against the fleet of this quality and experience."

Of his first ever Figaro race Barcelona's ex Mini650 sailor Costa told the event media team, "We set out with no objective, apart from sailing cleanly, believing in our options and settling ourselves as a duo together with Will. The result is great, I never would have imagined that we could do this. I am very happy with everything and sailing with Will who is excellent, I am so appreciative of the chance to be here. We were first for a while, but we tried not to get ahead of ourselves too much. We tried to take it metre by metre. We know that we lack a little experience of the Figaro Beneteau together and so we lost a few places, but we gave 100%, so we have no regrets."

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