Peter de Ridder's Mean Machine makes it five in a row

A fifth win in a row for Peter de Ridder (NED) and his team on Mean Machine extended the lead of the 2006 MedCup Champions to six points as the City of Alicante Trophy regatta, the first of the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit moves into its final day.

After winning yesterday’s 30 miles coastal race by a comfortable margin there was a sense of déjà vu this afternoon as Dutch owner De Ridder and his crew established their early lead off the start line and lead at each mark to win Race 7.

Their nearest opposition was the current MedCup Champion Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) with his new Artemis, but it was on the final windward leg that Mean Machine’s tactical brains, Ray Davies (NZL) and Tom Dodson (NZL) called the shifting breeze right and crossed the finish line of what proved to be a well timed shortened course. Mean Machine left Artemis trailing nearly one minute behind, but the Swedish skipper and crew, lead by John Kostecki (USA) as tactician, are now finding their stride with the new Artemis as they learn the optimum rig and sail settings. Three consecutive second places ensure Artemis have climbed to fifth overall.

Race 7 of the regatta enjoyed a brisk 14-16 knots of southerly breeze. Mean Machine’s strategy was designed as much to ensure a period of clear wind immediately after the start gun as it was in dragging to the favored side of the course. Platoon powered by Team Germany, with triple Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann steering, went to the opposite flank and rounded fourth 33 seconds behind the leaders..

Their fifth victory in a row for the team which won the MedCup in 2006, surpasses their string of four wins in Punta Ala in 2006, on the previous Mean Machine’s debut regatta. Increasingly De Ridder and team – a potent mix of down to earth Kiwis, American, Dutch and British sailors – look like they could repeat that maiden regatta victory.

De Ridder’s programme is astutely managed and the team tightly knit. Long days with little sleep when they were preparing the new boat together a three weeks ago, grabbing a few hours rest when they could in their makeshift billet at the Team New Zealand base in Valencia are the kind of adversity that bonds the unit as much as victories on the water.

Their six points margin over Artemis leaves them a relatively straightforward goal for the final day’s racing. Astern of them Doug de Vos (USA) and Fred Howe’s (USA) Quantum Racing are two points ahead of Bribon.

Dean Barker (NZL) and Ross Macdonald (CAN) delivered a fifth place today for skipper HSM Juan Carlos (ESP), the King of Spain, who enjoyed his first day’s racing on the boat on the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit. Winners here last year, Bribon, have two points to make up on Quantum to make second, and have two points in hand over Javier Banderas’s (ESP) Tau Ceramica Andalucia.

HSM Juan Carlos of Spain, skipper of Bribon: “I am very satisfied to have been able to gain a position in the overall results, at the same time I feel specially happy to be back sailing and competing again. I have missed it a lot after such a long time”.

Provisional Standings after seven races
(Position, Boat, Country, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6a, R6b, R7, Total Points)
1st Mean Machine MON (7, 16, 5, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 33)
2nd Quantum USA (4, 5, 9, 3, 2, 4, 6, 6, 39)
3rd Bribón ESP (3, 3, 1, 4, 4, 12, 9, 5, 41)
4th TAU Ceramica Andalucía ESP (1, 1, 6, 9, 9, 3, 5, 9, 43)
5th Artemis SWE (12, 11, 4, 10, 7, 2, 2, 2, 50)
6th Platoon by Team Germany GER (5, 9, 2, 5, 14, 8, 8, 4, 55)
7th Mutua Madrileña ESP (2, 4, 8, 8, 3, 6, 12, 13, 56)
8th El Desafío ESP (9, 6, 7, 11, 5, 11, 7, 3, 59)
9th Matador ARG (10, 14, 3, 2, 10, 5, 10, 8, 62)
10th Cristabella GBR (11, 2, 15, 7, 12, 10, 4, 11, 72)