The penultimate day of racing for the 2006 Breitling MedCup season served up drama, challenge, excitement, bitter disappointment and relief in equal measures for the crews of the 21 boats.
While the most talked about moment was a dramatic collision between Stuart Robinson’s Santa Ana Stay Calm and Jose Cusi’s Bribon, which had SM Don Juan Carlos aboard for his first race at this Trofeo Balearia Ibiza y Formentera, a consistent day for Eamon Conneely’s Siemens saw them take the overall lead in the regatta and a victory in the second race of the day clinched the overall 2006 Breitling MedCup TP52 Series for Peter de Ridder’s Mutua Madrilena.
Santa Ana struck Bribon at the windward mark of the first race. Making a port tack approach to the buoy the wind dropped slightly.
Santa Ana attempted to duck Bribon at the very last second after making a late call to dip low and try and find a space in the ranks of starboard tack boats. Santa Ana hit Bribon just forward of the shrouds, cracking Bribon’s topsides. The impact left a large hole in Santa Ana’s bow. Both are out of the regatta, effecting temporary repairs to make the crossing to Palma, Mallorca where their damage will be more fully assessed and properly repaired. Bribon will make a request for redress, seeking average points for the race and the remaining races of this regatta.
“The problem was as much the drop in wind pressure as we approached the mark as we slowed and nowhere to go. We should really have then just accepted that and tacked away. The frustrating thing for us is that we were sixth overall and had Lexus 20 points behind and now that is all gone.” Commented Santa Ana’s navigator Mark Chisnell.
With the wind swinging through the day, rising and falling in pressure across the course, and a difference in current which was significant in the lighter winds, it was a very challenging day.
After winning the coastal race yesterday John Cook’s Cristabella maintained their form into the first race today. Along with Rush they ventured to the right, inshore, off the start line where Rush was the first to pick up a favourable right hand wind shift. Tom Stark’s US boat rounded first with Cristabella second.
Cristabella’s choice of a gybe-set at the buoy proved critical and they went on to their second successive winning gun, with Dean Barker steering Warpath to second.
In the second race Peter de Ridder’s Mutua Madrilena executed the target required of them. With another good, but safe start they lead around the windward mark and were never passed, again working hard to fully utilise the shifts and the strands of better wind pressure downwind. As they crossed the finish they assumed an unbeatable position in the overall Breitling MedCup standings.
In defence of Siemens consistent attack on their position Caixa Galicia, skippered by Roberto Bermudez, shored up their challenge for third with a victory in the third race of the day.
“We didn’t sail well in the first two races. Adding the first race was bad but the second really added to it. We started really badly and weren’t able to recover. But in the last race we had a really good start and that meant we could get ahead. In 10 knots beating like this, this boat is very fast.” Explained Bermudez.
With just ten points now separating Siemens from third, skipper Ian Walker cautions that their main objective tomorrow is to win the Trofeo Balearia Ibiza y Formentera, anything else would be a bonus.
“It has been really hard sailing today, but I think we have has sailed as well as we have on Siemens all season, getting three top four results today was very difficult. Morgan (Larson) is doing a great job at his first regatta in this class here, and the crew got us out of trouble a couple of times. Leading overall is nice. I have always said that winning this regatta is what counts most for us. No-one will look back at this Breitling MedCup season and remember who was third, but if we win here we will have won half the regattas on the circuit this season and the worlds, which no one else will have.” Said Ian Walker.
With up to two races tomorrow (Saturday) Siemens leads Mutua Madrilena by one single point.
Mutua Madrilena’s crew looked relieved and content as they came ashore tonight and enjoyed a few well earned beers, but De Ridder insists the champagne remains on ice until tomorrow:
“It feels great, but at the moment I just feel tired and relieved. But we still have a regatta to win. We will have a few drinks tonight and no doubt will feel a little more dusty in the morning but this is still on. Every sailor here goes out to win regattas and we will be no different tomorrow. Siemens sail their boat extremely well.” Commented De Ridder.