Three wins from three starts allowed Dean Barker (NZL) and the crew of Emirates TeamNew Zealand to not only take a comfortable overall lead after the first day's racing at the Region of Sardinia Trophy, the third event of the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit, but also today to more than double their overall lead on the season long Circuit.
In the GP42 Series' practice race, superstition again prevailed as the Italian entry Airis, with Vasco Vascotto (ITA) calling tactics, passed outside the finish line leaving four boats to finish behind them within eight seconds. Turismo Madrid (ESP) took the first gun.
Consistently strong starting by the Kiwi team was the passport to their hat-trick of winning guns. It was only in the third windward-leeward contest that they had to overcome another boat, the Russian Synergy, to keep their perfect score-line intact.
Competition in the TP52 fleet was always close due to the very steady sea-breeze conditions with only tiny speed differentials between the first and tenth TP52's. After the first start skipper-helm Dean Barker and the New Zealand crew were able to ease away from current Audi MedCup champions Quantum Racing upwind in the 13 knots of breeze, and lead around the first windward mark to win, ahead of Artemis (SWE) and Matador (ARG).
The second race saw a repeat performance from the New Zealand afterguard and again they won gun-to-gun as Artemis and Matador took second and third respectively, but on the third they only managed to roll the Russians on the closing stages of the final run, while José Cusi's Spanish boat Bríbon finished
Racing in 12-14 knots of perfect sea breeze and flat water helm Dean Barker executed a text book start to keep their nearest rivals, the defending Audi MedCup Champions Quantum Racing (USA) in check from early in the first beat.
Whilst the current Audi MedCup Circuit leaders were able to clear the first windward mark with a comfortable early lead over the team which had gone furthest to the right upwind, Russia's Synergy. Quantum Racing rounded tenth.
From there Emirates Team New Zealand were unchallenged to the finish, while Paul Cayard (USA) guided Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) to a valuable second place on Artemis (SWE), with Matador (ARG) taking third.
Emirates Team New Zealand won the second race in much the same manner that they earned victory in Race 1 With a start which was close to perfection in terms of timing and speed build, the Kiwi team were quickly in control of the fleet on the first beat, again leading at every mark of the windward leeward course.
Cayard and Hamish Pepper (NZL) conspired to sail a strong, confident race on Artemis, profiting a little when Matador and Bribon tussled towards the top end of the second beat.
Bribon were third all the way around the course but suffered when they went too far to the right on the final downwind, dropping to a sixth place finish.
The third race was probably the most exciting. Synergy started well and were able to profit from an early position to the right. While they were then able to hold their lead around the windward mark Bribon were forced to tuck behind starboard tack Emirates Team New Zealand to round a close third.
The leading duo were comfortably clear down the final run when Emirates Team New Zealand took the race to leaders Synergy who were not quite as slick gybing under pressure. But the Russian team fought back and were less than half a boat length behind at the finish line.
Region of Sardinia Trophy
Standings after Day 1
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 1 1 1= 3 points
2. Matador (ARG), 3 3 4= 10 points
3. Artemis (SWE), 2 2 7= 11 points
4. Synergy (RUS), 4 8 2= 14 points
5. Bribón (ESP), 5 6 3= 14 points
Practice Race results
1. Turismo Madrid (ESP)
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP)
3. Caser Endesa (ESP)
4. Roma (ITA)
DNF Airis (ITA)
Quotes of the day:
Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand:
“We had a great day today, we started really well. The key there was time on distance, positioning with couple of minutes to go. That is something that we have been working on really hard. And that seems to be working really well. Mainly that is just about honing in on the on-board communication, working on where we want to be with a couple of minutes to go, and then the final execution from 45 seconds to go. That is critical and our boat is quite good at slow speeds, it grips quite well. Then the last race was a real nail-biter, Synergy sailed real well. We just managed to jump them on the gybe and roll them. It was a match race and we got strong on them, did a better gybe and rolled them, and then they got strong on us and had a very good chance of winning the race. It must have been down to a second or two.”
Vasco Vascotto (ITA) tactician Airis (ITA):
“It was good today, fun. If we can improve our skills and our handling more, in these conditions we will be good. I heard that it was not so good at the last regatta. It is a good feeling, our guys did a fantastic job and it was very close, better to all be close than far apart. I think we have speed enough to do well and now we need to be really concentrated to do like we did today.”
Paul Cayard (USA) tactician Artemis (SWE):
It was a pretty good day for us, less so in the last race. We were going well and even when we had troubles we were passing boats. In every case it's a good sign to be passing boats. Starts were never actually that good, yesterday's practice was better, but the first two were OK, the third one was bad. But, the good thing about the third one was that we cleared out straight away and got a good lane going right. I think we are pretty happy for the day. The guys who sail on the boat all the time are happy. Robbie (Naismith) and the guys are just saying: ‘let's be real, that was a pretty good day.”
Francesco Mongelli (ITA) navigator Synergy (RUS)
“It was a good day for us. We made a small mistake in the end that in any other fleet would have not made much difference, it was nothing, but we are happy with the day. At the end we did a good race and all the crew must be happy with how we are going.”