[Source: AUDI MedCup] One month to the start of the 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit’s first regatta in Cascais (May 11-16) and preparation activity is evident in several different European sailing centres where TP52 Series and GP42 Series contenders are making sure their programmes are on schedule to hit the first start lines in Cascais, Portugal with the best chance of wining.
Off Valencia the 2008 Audi MedCup champions Quantum Racing (USA) have just started tuning and testing their freshly modified Botin Carkeek design. They have remodelled the deck closer to that of 2009 Circuit winners Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), and also stiffened the hull, strengthening the internal structure to comfortably accept the higher rig loads which prevail among the leading contenders.
“We will also realise a benefit in reduced windage, but the main objective was in stiffening the boat back up again.” Remarks Quantum Racing’s project manager Ed Reynolds (USA), “This is going to be an exciting season. With two or maybe three new teams for sure the level is going to go up. When the newest boats sailed races which were perfect or close to perfect, then we struggled a little at times against them. TeamOrigin’s new boat will be interesting, but we really are pretty optimistic. We know that consistency is the absolute key and at this level that is not always possible. We’ll be shooting for podium finishes.”
Quantum Racing have recruited past Farr 40 world championship winner Adrian Stead (GBR) as tactician who will partner Kevin Hall (USA) who will be the navigator. Quantum Racing plan to train over the coming days off Valencia, along with Cristabella (GBR).
Emirates Team New Zealand have the winning momentum and trialled their modified Botin Carkeek design at home off Auckland. Their changes are only in line with the rule changes for 2010, and some cosmetic differences, but they have worked extensively on their sail package for this season.
“To be honest it is difficult to feel the differences in the boat after the changes because we were just one boat testing, and its only once you get up against other boats then we’ll see how we are.” Remarks Emirates Team New Zealand’s tactician Ray Davies (NZL), “We are confident. You have to be confident in your sailing and believe in yourselves. We have that, then it is down to the process of how we deliver consistent results. So we are focusing on the process and we definitely have the people to win again.”
“It was exciting to see the TeamOrigin boat sailing in Auckland. Juan (Kouyoumdjian) has pushed the boundaries and if they have a speed edge they will be very hard to beat.” Concludes Davies.
TeamOrigin, the emerging British team, have been training on the wet, chilly Solent in big winds recently as they await the arrival of their new boat from New Zealand.
One key change for this season is that teams are forbidden to train off the venue during the week prior to the regatta. So for the Trophy of Portugal, Cascais that means May 3rd is the deadline. That, of course, is not a problem for the local team of Bigamist 7 (POR).
“We have been doing some local races to get focussed and train. I really don’t think there is a local advantage as such, especially because Cascais is such an international venue and so many crews will have sailed here before. But, for sure, there are things we know just by virtue of sailing here all the time.” Says Afonso Domingos (POR), Bigamist’s skipper-helm.
Spanish entry Bribón (ESP) was training off Palma at the end of March after adapting the boat to the new configuration, including the new tiller steering and new helmsman, Gonzalo Araujo (ESP), who is very confident with the results of the work: “The week was very good all round, testing all the modifications made to the boat to fit with the 2010 rule and adjusting everything for a good sailing. We were also able to test the new sails in different wind ranges. In terms of the crew, we’ve changed some key members, and were training maneuvers with the new human core. The schedule for Bribón is for some days of training in Cascais at the end of the month, to get ready for the start of the season.”
Final preparations for the GP42 Series
Teams entered in the GP42 Series are making final preparations for Stage 1 in different ways. Some, like Javier Goizueta (ESP), class President of the GP42’s, are finalising their sponsorship arrangements for their team and boat branding. Goizueta has this year teamed up with Olympic Gold medalist Jose María van der Ploeg (ESP) to race his ’09 Botin & Carkeek design as Madrid – Caser Seguros, with last year’s GP42 Global Champion Paolo Cian (ITA) rumored to be in the driver’s seat for this year’s series.
Others are preparing by getting out on the water, using the Palma Vela regatta later this week in Palma de Mallorca as an opportunity to put their boats and teams through the paces. John Bassadone’s (GBR) Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), an ’07 Botin-Carkeek design built as ex-Turismo Madrid, will be racing a boat new to him and his team and which has had some keel reinforcements done over the winter at Longitud Zero. Project manager Inaki Castañer (ESP) is excited about their first GP42 season.
“We’ve got a great team lined up for this year, and John is very excited about the MedCup,” says Castañer. “Palma Vela will be important for us to learn this boat new to us so we can get to Cascais well-prepared.”
Another team racing in Palma Vela is one who was a veteran to last year’s GP42 Series, but has done some recent modifications to their deck layout and signed on a new sailmaker. Roberto Monti’s (ITA) Felci-designed AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA) is not only re-painted, but has the main trimmer now forward of the helmsman and will be sporting new sails from North Sails Italy.
And while they also have a new team led by rising Italian match racing star Francesco Bruni (ITA), Monti says “After having helmed Airis in the ’09 final stage in Cartagena, as well as at the Global Cup in Lanzarote last year, I feel confident I can take the helm again this year. We feel our biggest competition is Madrid – Caser Seguros, but we’re confident we can win this year.”