Swedish boat Artemis leads Rolex TP52 Global Championship with 17-point margin 28/9/07

The Rolex TP52 Global Championship 2007 served up another day of intriguing competition on the water, just as the Costa Smeralda served up one of the worst days of weather in recent memory of those that regularly compete in this sailing mecca.

A window of opportunity in the prevailing strong winds enabled the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda race officials, led by Peter Craig, to run one of the two coastal courses included in the programme.

At the end of a winter-like day, the Swedish boat Artemis popped out in front to secure another priceless victory in a race that turned into a lottery at the mid-point. Artemis was followed home by Windquest (USA), Doug DeVos’ s boat having set the pace for much of the race. Mutua Madrilena (CHI) did a back to front recovery and took third, just ahead of Glory (USA). Patches (IRE) had a day to forget; full of snakes and ladders, and with her last roll of the dice landing her firmly on a snake to finish in twelfth. Going into the last two days, five boats are separated by 6-points, but ominously for the fleet one boat lies 17 points clear ahead of them all – Artemis.

A predicted swing in the wind to the south-west occurred overnight. The strength moderated sufficiently to allow the Short Coastal Race to be started at 1100 in 17-18 knots. The 35 nautical mile course took the fleet to a windward mark at the entrance to Porto Cervo harbour, before turning right towards Bomb Alley and the next mark at Secca tre Monti. From there yachts turned right again and headed northwards to Monaci, before the longest leg of the race east towards the Islet of Mortoriotto and another right turn into the bay at Cala di Volpe. The course then headed back out to Mortoriotto and a left turn, north back towards Golfo Pevero and the finish off Porto Cervo.

For Windquest, the truly critical moment came on the beat back from Mortoriotto, as Terry Hutchinson – tactician – described: “we got around the last little rock out there for the long beat back up to the corner here and played the percentage and the percentage went a little bit against us. We let Artemis slip out and get their bow out on the long tack while we defended against the left shift. The left shift came but it went from 305 to 265 so it was forty degrees to the left. They laid (the mark) and slipped by us.”

Hutchinson was quick to praise Artemis for a job well done, “you have to give them credit for getting back into the race because they were some kind of deep. They were in second behind us coming into the bay and then they tacked, tacked back and were probably back into about eighth. So they did really good work just chipping their way back through as did we.”

Torbjorn Tornqvist, owner and helm of Artemis, was understandably pleased with their day’s work, commenting: “?in the end we were delighted, but we were not exactly delighted during the race! I guess it was just one of those days. It had everything: no wind, strong winds, changes of positions. We were in trouble a few times but we managed to come back from difficult positions and that was very pleasing.”

Tornqvist is also pretty happy about a 17-point margin over second – although he was quick to point out there are still two days of racing left. That said, the weather forecast may put paid to tomorrow’s. The expectation is for westerly winds of 22-27 knots with gusts up to 35 in the race area and, predictably, more in the Straits. Between 2 – 3 pm, there should be a slight rotation left and a moderation to 15-20 knots. Good news is that any residual cloud should clear by the afternoon bringing some warmth to a seriously wintery Costa Smeralda.

Results (after six races)

1. ARTEMIS Torbjorn Tornqvist, SWE, 6-1-1-2-4-1.25-15.25
2. WINDQUEST Doug DeVos, USA, 8-6-5-1-11-2.50-33.50
3. MEAN MACHINE Peter de Ridder, MON, 7-4-6-3-6-7.50-33.50
4. STAY CALM Stuart Robinson, GBR, 12-7-2-4-3-8.75-36.75
5. PATCHES Eamon Conneely IRL, 1-5-9-8-1-15-39.00
6. MUTUA MADRILENA Bablio Sail Project, CHI, 9-2-13-7-5-3.75-39.75
7. GLORY John Buchan, USA, 3-13-3-10-7-5-41.00
8. SIEMENS Alberto Roemmers, ESP, 11-8-10-5-2-6.25-42.25
9. CAM Leon/Sanchez, ESP, 5-12-8-6-7-10-48.00
10. CRISTABELLA John Cook, GBR, 2-DSQ-4-11-10-13.75-56.75