Patience was required yesterday as the Marseille Trophy opened with two light-wind windward-leeward races
If world champions Quantum Racing prevailed in Cascais last month, the American team may have emerged from the first day’s racing on the Audi MedCup Circuit’s French regatta with the slenderest possible margin, but they had to work hard for their fourth place in the first race after a modest start and only just squeezed out Bribon early in the second heat to win Race 2.
Their fourth and first places allow them to top the Marseille Trophy leaderboard, ahead of José Cusí’s Bribon (ESP). The Spanish crew with Ross Macdonald (CAN) calling tactics were solid and consistent, scoring a third and a second to lie second only on countback.
Racing was open and even in the breezes which struggled to muster 10 knots. After a delay of 90 minutes to wait for the winds to settle and build, the first race was blessed with 7-11 kts while, after another delay, the second heat saw 5-7kts. The later afternoon breeze did hold enough pressure to deliver a slower, but equable contest over which precision and subtlety were vital.
Clean starting was perhaps the most telling component today. In the first heat the team on Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA) came off the line like a rocket, their speed advantage standing out as the two boats below them – Quantum Racing and Synergy Russian Sailing Team and were both slowed in the final seconds.
The Italian team, skippered by Guilermo Parada (ARG), were able to lead at the first turning mark and from there to extend slightly on second placed Synergy. Quantum Racing looked to be in trouble, slowed off the start line, but a smart clearing tack into wind pressure quickly got them back into the match and they were able to return a useful fourth.
But on the second start line it was the Race 1 winners, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, who found themselves compressed and slowed away from the gun. The Russian crew on Synergy, second in the first race, looked to be heading for a strong opening day – as they have made before here – lying third in the second race.
But as they hoisted their kite at the final leeward turn, it snagged and exploded leaving them dead in the water, opening themselves to the attack of Container (GER). The German crew seized the opportunity and glided past to steal third, improving on their unfortunate seventh in the first race.
Synergy’s fourth and second leaves them set in third overall after Day 1. The South American circuit winners who are having their first experience of racing the Soto 40 in Europe, Patagonia by Negra (ARG/URU), won the practice race for the Soto 40’s ahead of Tony Buckingham’s Ngoni.
Kevin Hall (USA), Navigator, Quantum Racing (USA): ”It didn’t look good early on but at the end of the day it went well. We had a bad start in the first race, because we wanted to go left like everybody else but got caught. At least we managed to stay in the fight. In the second one, once we got the lead we found a way to stay there. We are still learning a lot about the boat, we’ve been going really well upwind and the question is how we are going to do downwind. Today we did good there, so we just hope there´s more to come in the next days. Azzurra had a great first race and a tough second one because they got squeezed between us and another boat. You can´t make mistakes.”
Guillermo Parada (ARG), skipper-helm, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA): ”Well, it´s obvious that one race went well and the other one didn´t. We are satisfied because we are already reached a target for the week (to get to second on the Circuit standings) and we are already in the second place. We are going to leave Marseille after winning a race and closing the difference with Quantum Racing. What happened in the second race was that I made a mistake and we never had a chance to recover. It was my fault and I take the blame for it”.
Gonzalo Araujo (ESP), skipper, Bribón (ESP): ”The day went quite well, we sailed in a simple way. We made two clean starts, tactics and maneuvers were correct and the speed was more or less all right. We lost one position in the first mark, sailing really tight with Synergy, and in the second one we fought with Quantum. We sailed really close to them but we couldn´t catch them. The truth is that having five points, the same amount as the top team, is really a positive thing. The boats who managed to start clean, the ones who made the right decision, those are the teams who were on top at the end. Azzurra took over in the first one and didn´t choose well in the second start, so they got left behind. The differences between teams are tiny.”
Alicia Ageno (ESP), navigator, Patagonia by Negra (ARG): ”Being the first day, we had good feelings, because it was difficult, very shifty and with some pressure areas. The conditions on board were great, we raced very well. Some of the boats were out of line at the start, we weren´t and we managed to get to the better side easily and with clean air. We see that the fleet is tight, nothing will be easy. The speed of all boats is similar. Today was the lightest day since we got here, let´s just hope that tomorrow and the day after are windier. We´ve sailed with great conditions in Marseille before, and we hope to do it again”
Results after 2 races :
1. Quantum Racing (USA), 4+1= 5 points
2. Bribón (ESP), 3+2= 5 points
3. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 2+4= 6 points
4. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 1+7= 8 points
5. Container (GER), 7+3= 10 points
6. Ràn (SUE), 5+5= 10 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (EUR), 6+6= 12points
8. Gladiator (GBR), 8+8=16 points
For more info, visit www.medcup.org.