The notion of the Mediterranean as a “mill pond” were shaken as winds of up to thirty knots on the previous two days limited training time on the waters off Cagliari. But for the final day of informal practice prior to the start of the Region of Sardinia Trophy the brisk breezes have been close to ideal for the ten TP52 Series and five GP42 Series teams who will compete here.
The muscular winds, which peaked around 23 knots today, are expected to moderate in strength, resuming sea breeze conditions, but the race organisers fully expect to complete the full programme before racing ends on Saturday.
Emirates Team New Zealand, leaders of the Audi MedCup TP52 Series, and winners last month of the Marseille Trophy, are looking to the same successful recipe as worked well for them in France as the Circuit takes to the waters off Cagliari for the second successive year, but the Kiwi team know well the contribution that starting errors and gear failure on the part of their nearest rivals made to their winning margin.
Under skipper Dean Barker (NZL) and tactician Ray Davies (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand are intent on continuity, with the same sailing team through the entire season. After competing as rivals recently on different boats at a major international regatta, with the skipper just getting the upper hand, the afterguard duo are back in the tight Kiwi unit, brothers-in-arms ready for battle.
“I think it is always good to have been away and done a different, really intense tough regatta like that away from the Circuit, and to now come back and get on the water like we did today. No matter how good the team is, there is always some rust there to get rid of before racing proper starts,” said Ray Davies today.
While the top three teams ETNZ, Quantum Racing (USA) and Matador (ARG) are rigid in their personnel line ups on board for the moment, other teams have made changes. As planned Paul Cayard (USA) takes on the tactician's duties on the Audi MedCup 2007 champions Artemis (SWE) in the absence of Russell Coutts (NZL). Francesco de Angelis Italy's former Luna Rossa skipper is recruited to Riccardo Simoneschi's Audi TP52 powered by Q8 (ITA). The fast rising Portuguese team on Bigamist 7 have Nacho Postigo (ESP) as navigator while in the GP42 Series Vasco Vascotto (ITA) – whose Pisco Sour TP52 programme has faltered now due to lack of funding – will sail with Airis (ITA).
The official TP52 Practice Race takes place Monday with points racing resuming for the Audi MedCup TP52 Series on Tuesday. The coastal race, round the point into the Bay of Angels, is due on Thursday. The GP42 Series practice race is on Tuesday.
Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“It was blown out yesterday but we had a good day before that. We have one new jib. Today we did two practice races and six starts. The boat seems to be going well.”
“This venue normally, we will sail in a sea breeze direction 13-18 knots. There are signs of a small Mistral coming back in later in the week. In the offshore, maybe a bit more shifty from the NW. The race course is quite a long way in the west side of the Bay and so last year it was pretty one-sided. The right side was favoured, but there were times when the left was favoured to and so you could not bank everything on the right.”
Guillermo Parada (ARG) skipper-helm Matador (ARG):
“We have not done too much to the boat. We have a couple of replacement sails. After Marseille we were a little a disappointed because we gave up so many points (due to gear failure on the coastal race, but we are here ready to get them back. We will sail better, fast and smart. We are still very positive and we are still looking at the overall. It is still very possible.”
“It seems like the weather will be very different to what we have had these last few days. But as always we look to good starts, good speed and sail smart. It looks like medium breeze for the week. The boat goes really well in most of the conditions so we have nothing to complain about there which is a good thing. We are very close to the potential of the boat, but need to sail it closer to 100% for more of the time.”
Paul Cayard (USA), tactician on Artemis (SWE):
“We had a good day today, plenty of wind. Its my first day on the boat, seeing how they do it on the Artemis and just trying to fit in. I guess in a way I am lucky they have not won both regattas so far, so there is room to improve and hopefully I can help the team get a little better result than they did in Marseille. There is no special approach, at the moment I am just learning to communicate with Torbjorn (Tornqvist, owner-helm) and the crew. I am just observing at the moment really, quite a bit information gathering. I don't know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Unfortunately we lost yesterday but we had a big, long day today, twelve starts and four races.”
It is the usual suspects out there. Quantum and Team New Zealand seem good but even Team New Zealand had a major foul up at the first mark. They were first at the first mark and last at the leeward mark. It is a very competitive fleet.”
Francesco De Angelis (ITA), tactician of Audi TP52 powered by Q8 (ITA):
” This is a beautiful class, with a very high technical level and great crews, so I expect great races and a perfect week. The boats are very fast, and especially downwind are exciting. Cagliari is one of Italy's best race course areas: it's pretty tough, and there's is always wind, from Mistral or from the south there's always plenty of wind around. I'm sure it will live up to its reputation.”
” And I have to make a crash course to try to understand the boat and to know the crew. Tomorrow I will try to to take advantage from the practice race, and then every day will be good to learn more and more.”