Challenging and, at times, humbling. That was the assessment of Emirates Team New Zealand's navigator Kevin Hall after the Kiwi team posted a third and a first today to lead the Portugal Trophy after five races have been sailed.
The gusty, puffy breeze was, once more, rich with both pitfalls and opportunities. Even when the north westerly had kicked in and the wind topped 20-21 knots there were lines of lighter breeze to avoid.
While Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) lead the TP52 Series regatta, so too the GP42 Series leader board has a familiar look too now as Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) emerge with a one point lead after two wins and a third from the first three races here.
Big gusts, especially on the downwind legs, were not only a big payout for those who struck it rich from the weather mark, but offered the viewing spectators great action as the TP52's surfed at speed.
Emirates Team New Zealand promoted themselves from fifth after the first day to lead in to the coastal race, albeit on countback, from Artemis (SWE).
The Swedish flagged 2007 champions, with Paul Cayard calling tactics, remained consistent today with a second and a fourth, in no small way thanks to one long surf down the final run of the first race which allowed them to pass Emirates Team New Zealand to finish just behind Portugal's victors Bigamist 7.
TP52 Race 1
The first race was won by Pedro Mendonça's Portuguese team on Bigamist. They were able to overtake Emirates Team New Zealand on the first run to secure their second successive win, their seventh winning gun of the season.
In 13-14 knots of westerly breeze Emirates Team New Zealand lead around the windward mark first time up after choosing the early left in better wind pressure, but on the first run they let Bigamist to the stronger breeze. As the breeze shifted right for the second beat they were able to extend.
On the final run the preferred downwind route according to the wind shift would have been inshore but the bonus wind pressure offshore, down the right was there for Artemis and Matador (ARG) in particular.
Artemis surfed down nearly the entire run with a big speed advantage on those to their left. Torbjorn Tornqvist's crew crossed ahead of ETNZ to pip them for second, gaining three places on the run, so too Matador dragged themseves up from seventh to fourth, riding the same gust pattern.
In the second race Emirates Team New Zealand were able to take control early on the first beat after getting the start they wanted. They could cross to win the favoured right, Praia Rocha shore on the upwind leg. This time they made no mistake on the first run, choosing to stick with the right, offshore lane. Synergy (RUS) were able to hold second with Quantum Racing (USA) third.
After leading the regatta on the first day, Quantum Racing were one of the teams to lose out to the left, starved of less pressure on the second run of first race, dropping from fourth to a weighty eighth.
Bigamist 7 jumped the start gun for Race 2. It took them time to extricate themselves from a tight line up. After rounding the first mark 300 metres behind the last boat they fought back to eighth, but now lie fourth overall.
In winning the third and last race of the day, the youthful team of “Canarias Kids” led by Jose Maria Ponce (ESP) on Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) have taken an early lead in the GP42 Series on scores of 1-3-1. Unlike their first win, which was achieved in just the last few metres of the final run into the finish line, their win in the last race was achieved nearly at the start. On a starting line shortened to fit the GP42's, the Canarias Kids chose to stay well away from the fray in the middle-right of the line by accelerating towards the pin, shooting off the line with speed, and within less than a minute had enough space to tack and cross the group towards the favored right side of the course.
From there they led and never looked back.
Runner-up in the standings is Roma 2 (ITA), who on consistent 2-2-2 scores showed they have the potential to win at any moment, especially now that regular helmsman Paolo Cian (ITA) is back in action.
But the win by Caser-Endesa (ESP) in the second race showed that they too have the potential to get to the top, as most races were pitted battles between these three teams for the lead.
Quotes of the day:
Dean Barker (NZL) skipper-helm Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“It was good. In the first race we were going well, had a good first beat and ended up a little bit conservative and lost a couple of places, but in the second race we were good. The boat is going really well and it was nice to stretch away.
For us it is still about getting a good clean start, not necessarily winning whichever end of the line that is favoured but wanting a lane just to be able to sail how you want. It is not always easy.
Once the breeze went round to the NW'ly direction it was nice. It made for some great sailing, but you could see that even when the breeze was up in the 20-21 knots range there were lines of lighter breeze. But it was enjoyable sailing.”
Katie Burns (USA), deck hand and winner of the Quantum Sails ‘Living the Dream':
“It has been a great learning experience, I have been learning so much how the professional racing team work, how the boat runs and how it operates. And I have been hiking a lot, but really just enjoying being out there on the water in these great winds. It was a great day.”
Kevin Hall (USA), Navigator Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“We were a little disappointed after the first run today to seemingly make the same mistake to yesterday. On the other hand with the same information we had at the time, you would make the same decision again. But the second race was nice.
There is more pressure outside for the runs, and that carries for the day, but mostly it is the shifts at the top of the beat which is important, with the ‘righty' (right hand shift) in the top corner.”
Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Overall – Day 2
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 2+3+6+3+1= 15 points
2. Artemis (SWE), 3+4+2+2+4= 15 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA), 1+1+4+8+3= 17 points
4. Bigamist (POR), 5+5+1+1+8= 20 points
5. Bribón (ESP), 6+2+3+7+7= 25 points
Overall – Day 1
1. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 1+3+1= 5 points
2. Roma (ITA), 2+2+2= 6 points
3. Caser Endesa (ESP), 3+1+3= 7 points
4. Turismo Madrid (ESP), 4+5+4= 13 points
5. Airis (ITA), 5+4+5= 14 points
Complete results: http://2009.medcup.org/results