The German Container team proved the most consistent performer, whilst British errors proved costly
On day one of the Audi Medcup Circuit Cascais Trophy the German Container team proved the most consistent performer across the two races.
Watch replays from day one here.
A pair of well earned second places, behind the Synergy Russian Sailing Team in the first heat and Italy’s Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, was enough to give Markus Wieser (GER) and crew a lead of two clear points after their first ever races as a crew in the fleet.
The Container team, with Hamish Pepper (NZL) calling tactics, built their pair of second places from solid, if not spectacular first beats and twice in consecutive races they got the better of the world champions, Quantum Racing on the final run to the finish.
They made no big errors, and – crucially – were always taking places rather than going backwards in the tough fleet. It was Quantum Racing which managed to maintain the same consistency. Ed Baird (USA) and crew collected two third places to lie third on count back.
Racing in 13-18kts of mainly northerly breeze, with the windward-mark set just off Cabo Raso, to the west of Cascais, the wind carried the typical hallmarks which the Portuguese capital’s sailing centre has long been known for – big differences in wind pressure and shifts in direction- plenty for the tacticians and strategists to work with.
And there was more than enough wind strength to punish any crewing errors…
The Russian team looked odds on to finish the day on top of the fleet after winning the first race comfortably with their brand new, from the wrapper, Botin Partners design, but their messy leeward gate rounding in the second race cost them dearly and their first race win was paired to a sixth.
And after a series of errors in the first race which resulted in an opening race fifth, an inspired gybe-set at the windward mark of the second race for Audi Azzurra Sailing Team turned a fifth place with a 40 seconds deficit to a race lead by 40 seconds at the leeward gate.
From there alchemists of the day, Francesco Bruni (ITA) and Vasco Vascotto (ITA), at the back of the boat did not put a foot wrong and they won comfortably with Container second but, as Vascotto acknowledged later, such opportunities to redeem themselves are not handed out often at this level.
“To be honest when we saw the wind was so far right then the decision was made for us, but when it was most right at the top mark there was nothing else to do. But, yes, we were a little surprised, not to say pleased, to gain so much. These things don’t happen every day and we really should not have been relying on things like that. We need to focus more and make fewer mistakes,” said Vascotto.
Markus Wieser paid tribute to the shore team which has worked relentlessly to ensure they made the start line on time, acknowledging that he has a lot to learn having only steered a TP52 for the first time last Monday.
“It was extraordinary for us. We were quite fast downwind and we sailed quite well. Our team is working very well together For me I only started driving the boat last Monday, so I have a lot to learn, it all comes down to the team and if it all comes good then you look good as a helmsman. And I have to pay tribute to the owner who gave me a free hand to sail with the guys I want to sail with. Consistency is about keeping out of trouble, sailing your own race and get the breaks when you can take the them. But it is a long week and this is only the first day. For us, a new TP52 project it is great for us.”
“I am too old to be nervous, I enjoy it, there are more important things than sailing and so there was no pressure today.”
It was a bumpy start for the first day’s racing for Britain’s new entry, Niklas Zennström’s Rán, who posted a sixth and a fourth in tricky conditions.
Both Zennström and his chief, Tim Powell, agreed that mistakes had been costly. “We went from a bad start to end up making life very difficult in the first race,” said Powell. “It was also expensive in that we ripped a spinnaker and we have a limited number for the season under the rules.”
“The second race was a lot better,” he added, “but we were still not firing on all cylinders. We just need to calm it down a little, the anxiety factor was a bit high. We know how to sail the boat, so we just need to take a step back for some calm assessment.”
Cascais Trophy, Day One:
1. Container (GER), 2+2 = 4 points
2. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 5+1= 6 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA), 3+3= 6 points
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 1+6= 7 points
5. Ràn (SUE), 6+4= 10 points
6. Bribon (ESP), 4+7= 11 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (EUR), 7+5= 12 points
8. Gladiator (GBR), DNC+DNC=18 points