The challenges of Marseille’s famous Rade Sud lie in wait for teams at the Audi MedCup Circuit’s second regatta of the 2010 season. Since 2007 the venue which is world renowned for the Mistral has always delivered the world’s leading regatta circuit a dose of the renowned strong winds. But forecasters are suggesting patience may be required before the brisk northerlies make their appearance. Racing for the TP52 Series starts Wednesday, after the formal practice race tomorrow (Tuesday) which allows crews to sharpen up and learn what might be in store on the race area.
Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) come to the only French regatta of the Circuit with some level of confidence. This is where they started their unbeaten winning run last season and have built an ominous momentum since. Already they lead by 20 points, but as almost any one of the ETNZ sailing crew will tell you, that represents little if a three race does not go your way. Key to their success has been consistency: minute to minute, race to race, day to day, regatta to regatta.
The contrast in Cascais at the Portugal Trophy was that they were first to get back into that rhythm, whilst other key contenders had external factors to deal with. Quantum Racing (USA) the 2008 champions lost Terry Hutchinson (USA) skipper-helm to a head injury, TeamOrigin (GBR) had clear speed issues, Artemis (SWE) were good but not in the top half of the fleet often enough and even Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER) who finished second were successful on their learning curve with a boat they had barely sailed before. Skipper Jochen Schuemann (GER) will remember vividly winning the coastal race, along the one of the most beautiful backdrops of any, to Cassis with Platoon in 2008.
So the Trophy of Marseille regatta could be different. Cascais was about hitting the straps early in the season, making best use of the shifty breeze and speed in the stronger winds and about boat handling.
Strictly for one regatta only – as he is taking some time out from the intensity and travel of Circuit this season - Morgan Larson (USA) is back as tactician on Quantum Racing, filling in for Ado Stead (GBR) who has commitments elsewhere.
The GP42 Series fleet have their practice race on Wednesday. Cascais’s stronger winds really put a premium on crew work and dealing with the changing wind patterns. Masters at that especially are the Jose Ponce’s (ESP) Puerto Calero (ESP) team who always show the benefit of their hours together on the brisk trade wind waters off their native Canary Islands. Other teams go there to train… most of them grew up there. On AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), Gabriele Benussi (ITA) is the tactician for Marseille, instead of Gabiele Bruni (ITA).
All the action is again broadcast on Audi MedCup TV, with daily programming starting at 1250hrs local time as from Wednesday.
According to Terry Hutchinson, "Marseille is great, when you are out there racing is one of the prettiest spots that we ever go to."