The first event in the TP52 Breitling MedCup 2006 attracted 19 boats. It proved to be some of the best racing I’ve done in this style and size of boat for many years, in fact it may be the best racing yet!
Dean BarkerHelmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand
Click for more info and some of his Emirates TNZ sailed Warpath in a very consistent manner in what was a very difficult regatta to win by six points.
Our team on Lexus did not fare very well, finally finishing 11th and I must confess that Punta Ala has become a bit of a bogey for me over the years. I’ve had some of my worst results at this venue and this one was no exception! In many of the races, to be in the top group you simply had to pick the correct side and push pretty hard into the corner. Unfortunately I regularly had the wrong corner. Sailing can be a frustrating sport when that happens but it’s a wonderful sport when everything goes right!! However, I figure that every result (good or bad) makes somebody happy and I’ve no doubt our poor results made plenty of our competitors smile!
Despite having the same hull design and sails as Warpath we also did not manage to extract the same speed. That just shows how important tuning and sailing techniques are. I imagined that if we had of sailed very well, perhaps we could have finished in the top three but I am not sure we could have won. That raised many questions within our team and I certainly finished the regatta with more questions than when I started, so our plan before the next event is to do three days of two boat testing to try to figure out our sailing modes and sail settings with a little more precision and confidence.
It was an interesting regatta from a design standpoint. Certainly the three spreader rigs on the first three boats were not slow. The newer hull designs dominated the leading results but there did not appear to be massive differences in speed (except two sail reaching with maximum heel with the G0).
However, it only takes small differences to influence results and I suspect that with more time, the newer boats will improve more than the older versions and I could easily see two distinct fleets developing.
Still the Breitling MedCup is generally raced in light wind venues and judging by the hull shapes, I suspect the biggest differences will be in stronger winds, so while the wind stays light, the fleet could be relatively even.
The sails are of course a very important factore and there is still a very wide variety of concepts, particularly in the downwind sails. Even knowing how to use a sail correctly and learning the optimum wind ranges is extremely important.
The tight reaching sails have definitely improved a lot from last year but I still feel there is plenty of development left in the VMG type running sails.
The next event will apparently attract even more boats. What a great series this will be. In the next event Paul Cayard comes onto the Lexus boat which will be a great experience. I’ve never sailed with Paul before so that will be a great oportunity. I’m also looking forward to hearing more about the Volvo Race.