Artemis emerge with only the slimmest possible lead after four races

A first and a second from two difficult races yesterday on the Bay of Palma saw the 2007 world champions Artemis (SWE) emerge with only the slimmest possible lead after four races have now been sailed at the 2009 TP52 World Championship.

The Swedish flagged team are tied on points with local favourites Bribón (ESP). José Cusí’s crew from the host club, with round the world racer Gonzalo Araujo (ESP) on the helm, also erred on the conservative, safe side where possible and posted a second and a third.

In the flat water, short beats and modest wind-speeds it was day for clear thinking and concise decision making, especially at the busy, often frenetic first windward mark roundings. When they made a strong start off the pin end of the line in Race 4, overnight leaders Quantum Racing (USA) looked to be well set to at least consolidate on the two points lead that they held. But at the first windward mark approach, while Artemis squeezed only away a few metres ahead, they were suddenly trapped on their port tack approach, as the starboard tack line up lifted and they had to bail out to the back of the queue.

Choosing prudence and dipping hard, Quantum Racing the current champions managed to come back from tenth round that first buoy to rescue a sixth place finish, but they slid to third overall, still only two points off the leading pair’s aggregate.

“It was all created by a bit of miscommunication about what we were going to do, but that was set up from four minutes out. We made the wrong decision. But instead of sticking it in there and fouling everybody we made the proper decision, and we got on with it and got back into the race.” Grimaced Quantum Racing’s skipper-helm Terry Hutchinson. “But the fact that we did not take ourselves completely out of it today is good.”

While the champions snared themselves only once, Artemis’ ability to sail clean and fast was outstanding among their virtues yesterday, while Bribón – sailing on their home patch – are clearly quick enough in these 10 knots average breezes and flat water. With Paul Cayard (USA) calling tactics for Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE), backed up by Hamish Pepper (NZL) and Chris Nicholson (AUS), Artemis sailed smart in the difficult, unsettled breezes. With small changes in wind pressure and direction through both races – the SSW’ly breeze at between 9 and 12 knots – there were ample opportunities to make gains, and losses.

“It was a matter of metres if you could cross people or not, because they were short beats and very smooth water. And so I guess we just got clean, we were able to cross most of the people and approach the mark from the starboard side, which is great because you avoid all the ducking, yelling and screaming behind you. So we kind of played it to the conservative side.” Noted Artemis’ tactician Cayard.

Matador, who were disqualified from Race 2 after a protest, to some extent bounced back. Though they lead at the windward mark in the first race they could only make an eighth but then went on to win the second race. They are seeking to have the protest re-opened.

The regatta schedule has been altered to allow more windward-leeward racing today with the 1.5 points coastal race scheduled for Saturday.

TP52 World Championship 2009
Palma de Mallorca, Overall Standings after Day 2:

1. Artemis (SWE, Torbjorn Tornqvist), 8 3 1 2 = 14 points 

2. Bribón (ESP, Gonzalo Araujo), 7 2 2 3= 14 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA, Terry Hutchinson), 5 1 3 6= 15 points

4. Audi TP52 Powered by Q8 (ITA, Riccardo Simoneschi), 4 6 5 4= 19 points 

5. Cristabella (GBR, John Cook), 1 8 6 6 5= 20 points