Eamon Conneely's new boat Patches leads Rolex TP52 World Championship in Porto Cervo 25/9/07

Day one of the Rolex TP52 World Championship saw reigning world champion Eamon Conneely with his new boat Patches take a first and fifth in the two races of the day to lead the fleet in the overall classification.

Conditions in Sardinia put everyone to the test yesterday as driving rain and shifty winds replaced the previous day’s sunshine and blue skies. The Race Committee postponed the start of the first race for just over two hours before approximately 7 knots of north-westerly wind allowed the 15 competing Transpac 52s to take to the start line for a windward/leeward race of approximately six nautical miles. Towards the end of the first race the wind shifted right to 20° and gradually built up to reach 15-16 knots for the start of the second race.

Conneely’s Reichel-Pugh design, which was launched in May of this year and finished third overall in the TP52 Medcup circuit this year, took first place in Race One ahead of John Cook’s Cristabella (GBR) and John Buchan’s Glory (USA). Race two saw the course lengthened with each leg approximately 2.5 miles for a total of 10 nautical miles. As the wind picked up Torbjorn Torniqvists Artemis (SWE), with New Zealand’s Russell Coutts at the helm, took victory over Mutua Madrilena (CHI) and Riccardo Simoneschi’s Anonimo Q8.

Vasco Vascotto, tactician on board Mutua Madrilena, explained how yesterday’s races unfolded: “Unfortunately the first race we were over the line and we went back so started last in the first race but still we did a quite good recovery. The second race was nothing special but we played a couple of shifts quite well and at the end of the first beat we stayed in front and we stayed in front also the second beat and half of the last run; unfortunately Russell and Artemis gained on one wave and we were not able to gybe from starboard to port because they ‘closed the door’, so we came quite close but not close enough to win. It’s a good result.”

On competition in the class: “There are at least 10 boats here that can win this Championship, so we are really pleased that we could get a good result in the second race, so we are close enough in order to try to have a good result here in Sardinia. It’s a very good fleet; any of these boats can win a race for sure there is somebody that is a little more favoured but the others have exactly the same speed, so there is no difference.”

With a possible 11 races to be run over the next five days the fun has just begun but after two race Patches leads by just one point ahead of Artemis and Anonimo who both have seven points.

Today’s weather forecast foresees 10-15 knots of north-easterly wind in the morning which may shift round to north-westerly and prove shifty this afternoon.

Racing is due to start at 12 midday.