Audi Med Cup competitors are in Sardinia this week, enjoying hot temperatures and steady breeze

Hot, hot, hot?

It’s the top professional circuit in the world this summer, it’s racing on the waters off Cagliari, Sardinia this week and it is hot, hot, hot. The temperature is well established in the mid-thirties, it’s a bit muggy, and the breeze is best characterised as ‘gentle’ light to moderate sea breezes that top out around 10 to 12 knots.

And the action on the water in the practice race was just as hot as well. When Yachting World leapt aboard one of the TP 52s in the practice races in Alicante and Marseille, that boat won the practice race. The pressure was on to keep the record alive on board Artemis, currently lying second place on the Audi Med Cup circuit.

Squeezed amongst the fleet, we were bow forward of the boats upwind of us and about even with a pair to leeward – but there was nowhere to go to scrub off more speed. The starting gun fires and as the owner/helmsman Torbjorn Tornqvist settles the boat in to the upwind leg, we start creeping forward – what a start!! Navigator Matteo Plazzi confirms his computer has us ‘right on the line’ and we all exhale; we know it was close.

The Race Committee gets on the radio to make individual recalls. The first transmission ends and we seem to be in the clear as the boats to leeward break off and head back to re-start. Then the Committee makes a late addition to the list of sinners; our number is called and it’s now a long way back to exonerate ourselves. Hero to zero in a burst of static over the VHF; the Yachting World streak will come to an end.

Somewhat surprisingly, that doesn’t make the day any less enjoyable or enlightening. Tactician John Kostecki urges the crew to ‘stay positive’ as we restart and he immediately sets to the task of reeling in the fleet. After re-starting a long way back, we round the top mark in last place, but just metres behind the next boats. It’s clear we’re gaining.

Some nifty sailing downwind and we go through the bottom gate overlapped with a pair of boats. Having been pushed to the left-hand mark on the gate, we stay with the left to begin the second beat and appear to hit some favourable pressure. By the top mark three boats are behind us and we nip another place on the run and finish 8th of 13 (Bribon retired), and much closer to the leader ( 1:05) than we were when we re-started.

Kostecki and Tornqvist appear happy with the day – all things considered – and are probably most relieved that this was just the practice race. John makes a point of going around the boat and saying ‘nice race’ to each of the crew. Torbjorn thinks ‘we have speed’.

The afterguard leaps off the race boat to do a ‘walk of the course’ in the team RIB in an effort to get familiarised with the landscape ahead of the coastal race later this week. The team remaining on the race boat stays out in the stifling heat for another hour or so evaluating the Code Zero – there’s no rest for the crew if you’re trying to match a winning performance from last year on the top racing circuit in the world this summer.

The racing starts to count on Tuesday afternoon at the Region of Sardinia Trophy on the Audi Med Cup circuit.