The final of the Audi MedCup Circuit beckons and two different strategies will be evident in both TP52 Series and GP42 Series.
On a race area which last year proved one of the most challenging of the season, Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) will seek to clinch the overall Audi MedCup Circuit by keeping their average scores consistently high.
After having won the last three regattas in succession, the dominant Kiwi team will put simple principles of prudency ahead of any thoughts of pushing for a fourth regatta win in order to be sure of emerging victorious next Saturday.
If the weather scenario on the race arena might not prove as regular or predictable as the top teams might have preferred for this season's finale, thanks to the rugged mountains and deep, long valleys which disturb and channel the wind flow in different directions, to Emirates Team New Zealand's advantage there is a three way scrap simmering for second to fourth places in the TP52 Series.
Racing starts for the TP52 Series on Tuesday, after tomorrow's practice race.
The GP42 Series is poised on a knife edge with Spain's Islas Canarias Puerto Calero and Italy's Roma Mk 2 locked together on 82 points apiece while Spain's Caser Endesa, winners last month in Portugal are 17 points adrift.
Emirates Team New Zealand will stick to the formula which has worked well for them this season. This week they will focus on managing the intensity of the racing with being able to switch off when there is time. Staying at a large premier resort nearby, they will, as usual, all eat together as a big group, with the usual relaxed, regular de-brief sessions.
Prime movers in the establishment of a new world series for America's Cup class, Emirates Team New Zealand 's Ray Davies suggests that the new series would neatly complement the team's participation on next season's Audi MedCup Circuit :
“I think the future is very promising for this (Audi MedCup) Circuit. The prospect of being able to bring guests on board for racing, and having faster boats will be great. And the level is very high. Of course it was interesting before if you look back to when there was 26 boats, but the reality was there was only ever eight or ten who were serious, regular contenders. The level now is consistently higher through this fleet.” says Davies .
The Kiwis have 52 points in hand. In the podium struggle, the skipper-helm of second placed Matador (ARG) Guillermo Parada (ARG) says the best form of defence, when it comes to their five points margin over 2007 champions Artemis (SWE) and 2008 champions Quantum Racing (USA), is attack.
The Swedish flagged Artemis have Vasco Vascotto (ITA) on the helm this week, in place of absent owner Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE), to partner with tactician Paul Cayard (USA). Meantime Quantum Racing proved in Portugal that they are on the rebound with a strong measure of consistency evident again.
In the GP42 Series , the fleet is back to six boats with the addition here of Iberdrola, the largely dormant Spanish America's Cup team El Desafio's boat, which is being steered – as it was last season – by Laureano Wizner (ESP). Their racing begins on Wednesday.
The technical director of the local yacht club, again highlighted that the breezes here can be very unstable in September.
” This is a pretty hilly area and that makes it shifty too. It can shift between 15 and 20 degrees to both sides of the axis, so we could have surprises, and we could see some changes in the top positions.” Warned Eduardo Gallego.
The on-shore ambience round the historic city has been extraordinary. The warmth of the welcome from the locals and visitors is fantastic, and since the Audi MedCup village was officially opened yesterday the dockside viewing area, along the main promenade, has always been very busy. A full festival of activities, from Flamenco Hip Hop and and Ballet dancing, art exhibitions and street parades, to flying displays, a 1 mile street run, to BMX, windsurfing and dinghy sailing all continue through the regatta until the gala prizegiving next Saturday evening.
Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“Our job here it is first and foremost to finish it off, to close the deal. But this is a very difficult venue with the terrain which is around it, high mountains and that can make for very unstable breezes, especially when it is blowing off the shore.”
” So for us it is going to be about real percentage sailing. That will not be easy because usually that would mean not getting into the corners of the course, but here it is often the case that is what you have to do. If you try to stick to the middle of the course then often you miss out on pressure (wind). Certainly this is a venue where there are no set rules. It is very shifty and you really need to keep in the race right until the end.”
” Bigger gains and losses can be made on the runs, so that means always looking beyond the top mark, looking to see where the extra pressure is coming from and protecting what lead you have. That may even mean coughing up some advantage to get back with the pack.”
” And we have a tight battle behind us for. We will just let that brew us much as we can, but hopefully that will leave us a clear regatta.”
” We intend to just try and sail clean, to play the percentages and preserve our high averages.”
Guillermo Parada (ARG) skipper-helm Matador (ARG):
” Our strategy here will be to attack. The best form of defence is to attack. During the season I think that we have been the team that risk more in races trying to beat Emirates Team New Zealand while the rest of the teams maybe sailed more conservatively. So we will be focussed on finishing as high as possible, if that means winning this regatta and taking second on the Circuit, then, great. There are few options to beat ETNZ, but we will do our job well and wait and see if they make mistakes, which they have not really yet. Our priority is second place over Artemis and Quantum Racing.”
Vasco Vascotto (ITA) helm on Artemis (SWE):
“Paul (Cayard) and I are like the cat and the fox (in Pinocchio). We are good friends and Paul is always fun to be with but also a very experienced and talented sailor. We have spent a lot of time together over breakfast and dinners and many days on the Wii and the Playstation and so we start from there. The team is very Anglo-Saxon but some of them speak Italian toom so Paul and I have to be careful what we are saying! Seriously, I am very proud to be asked by this team to take part in this adventure at this important part of the season when a result is so important to us.”
Laureano Wizner (ESP), skipper-helm Iberdrola (ESP):
“I feel strange being here only for the last regatta of the season. We are sailing with the boat in exactly the same set up as last year, except having two new sails. The most significant change will be us sailing with new trimmers (Nacho Braquehaes, main, and Tono Pires, jib).”