The opening day of the Audi Medcup produced some surprising results, Matthew Sheahan reports

Rounding the first mark of the opening race of the new Audi Medcup series in last place must have come as a shock for owner driver Torbjorn Tornquvist aboard his brand new Reichel Pugh designed Artemis. His 2007 season had ended on a high after his team scored overall victory in a fiercely competitive fleet, now he was staring at sixteen transoms.

As the bow went down and the kite popped into shape it was perhaps of little comfort that his arch rival from last year, Vincente Tirado and his Caixa Galicia team, was having a similarly torrid time rounding the weather mark just in front.

Indeed, perhaps the only good news for Tornqvist at this point was that from his position in the fleet he couldn’t see how well his former boat, now called Tau was going, having rounded the weather mark in second place, just behind Mutua Madrilena. The pair continued with their private battle around the rest of the course with Tau taking victory by less than half a boat length.

To prove that their success wasn’t just luck, Tau went on to win the second race in even lighter and flukier conditions while Artemis had another disappointing result notching an 11th to her previous 12th. Yet she wasn’t alone, Peter de Ridder’s new Mean Machine, arguably the most radical new boat in the fleet sailed by a team well used to success, had a 7th and a 16th on the score sheet by the end of the day.

With just 6-8 knots of shifty breeze on the course it was perhaps inevitable that the form book would be upset. There were snakes and ladders aplenty on the four leg windward leeward course. Yet it was difficult not to notice that several of the brand new machines were having a similarly difficult time beating last season’s boats.

Some felt that perhaps the new boats were slightly better suited to stronger conditions, while others pointed to the fact that the pre-event tune up had been in more breeze and that the crews knew less about their boats’ performance in such light conditions. Or perhaps the performances could be put down to hours on the water. It is surely no coincidence that last year’s hot and highly optimised ships were doing so well at the start of the new season. Working up any boat takes time, working up such a refined machine as a modern TP52 is a big job.

Whatever the reason, one thing is clear, this season’s racing promises to be every bit as close as in previous episodes. Positions often change faster than you can write them down and success on one day is no guarantee for the next. There may be some disappointed crews after the first day’s racing, but this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s a slice of the action.

Video courtesy Sunset and Vine APP

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