Back on the waters where they won the 2008 Audi MedCup Circuit title a little less than a year ago, Terry Hutchinson and the crew of Quantum Racing gave themselves the best possible tonic after their disapointing seventh place finish last month in Sardinia when they won the first two races of the Portugal Trophy regatta today, then fought back to a well earned fourth place in the third contest to lead the event by three clear points.
It was an interesting, testing day for the ten TP52 crews off Portimao as the early, light sea breeze built for the first race before it gave way to the NW’ly gradient wind which offered two excellent races in which big gains and losses were available dependant on the shifty, puffy conditions presented racing closer to the Algarve shore.
Across the day it proved a comprehensive test, from the finesse and tactical racing of the light sea breeze to bursts of downwind planing in the third race the reigning champions proved to themselves they have the tools, skills and most all perhaps the confidence to win regattas. Their opening race win was their first winning gun since Marseille in June.
Their 1,1,4 for the day leaves them three points clear of 2007 champion owner-helm Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) and his team on Artemis who rolled out a consistent 3,4,2 to lead by two points a logjam of three teams on 11 points.
Local favourites Bigamist 7 lead the first race but failed to convert it to a winning gun, but they did make amends when they won the third race, holding off Artemis to lie third overall after the first day’s racing.
Quantum Racing built their foundations early in the day when they won the first race.
Local hopes sky-rocketed when Bigamist 7 made a strong start off the pin end of the start line and lead around the windward turn in 8 knots of sea breeze, ahead of Quantum Racing with Artemis in third.
Terry Hutchinson (USA) and crew managed to get down inside Bigamist on the run and were able to round the leeward gate ahead, in the lead. The current overall champions retained their composure nicely on the final ran when Emirates Team New Zealand enjoyed a close tussle – gybe and counter-gybe – with Artemis.
With all four leading boats virtually overlapped at the finish Quantum Racing took first, with Emirates Team New Zealand stealing second, Artemis getting. Matador in fourth completed a worthy recovery from seventh place at the first mark.
It was a repeat performance in the second contest after the breeze clocked round to the NW as if cued by the day’s forecast, strengthening nicely to 15-17 knots. Quantum Racing (USA) lead from the windward mark to the finish.
Bribon gained on the second downwind to pass Emirates Team New Zealand on the final run to take second place.
With the windward mark closer in to the shore, at the western corner of the bay off Alvor, the gain was to the right, inshore, off west extension of the Praia Rocha beach.
Quantum Racing made another strong start which allowed them to tack early and lead around the windward mark with Emirates Team New Zealand second.
GP42 Series Practice Race
Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) who won last month in Sardinia and lead the series won the GP42 Practice Race after Roma 2, driven by Paolo Cian, got off to the best start in this closely matched fleet. The Canarias team led by helmsman Jose Maria Ponce (ESP) passed all at the leeward gate to take the lead and hold it to the finish.
“Except for our mainsail, we used practice sails today,” explained Ponce, “but still feel good about the boat and our speed. The breeze came up into the first run, so we shifted to the Medium jib on the second beat and Code 2 kite on the run, and felt pretty good. We’re looking forward to having some good races at this regatta.”
Making his GP42 Series debut as tactician on Turismo Madrid (ESP), veteran match racer and America’s Cup alumnist Philippe Presti (FRA) shared his thoughts on racing in this small but intense fleet.
“In big fleets, you can get spread out from the competition and if you don’t have superior speed you still have an opportunity for gains by playing wind shifts. But with five boats, speed is very important, because everyone has room to spread out and stay together in the same shifts and let the boat go fast. We’ll be focusing on how we can improve on that this week.”
The Airis (ITA) team may also be hunting for speed, as they finished today more than a minute behind, despite having on board British double Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson as guest tactician.
Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Overall - Day 1
1. Quantum Racing (USA), 1+1+4= 6 points
2. Artemis (SWE), 3+4+2= 9 points
3. Bigamist (POR), 5+5+1= 11 points
4. Bribón (ESP), 6+2+3= 11 points
5. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 2+3+6= 11 points
1. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP)
2. Roma (ITA)
3. Caser Endesa (ESP)
4. Turismo Madrid (ESP)
5. Airis (ITA)
Afonso Domingos (Por), skipper helm on board Bigamist (POR):
" On the first run of the first race we made a bad gybe and so we had to cut the spinnaker sheet, then the last gybe wasn't that good either and Quantum passed us. We couldn't go to the right hand as we wanted, so we finished fifth. In the third race we've started very well and we were able to go to where we wanted on the beat, then sailed a very good run, so we are happy."
Terry Hutchinson (USA) skipper-helm of Quantum Racing (USA), it was all in all a good day and the first two races we got off the line in the position we wanted to and our goal this week is to start in a way that allows morgan and mark to execute our game plan and we did that and in the last race we didn't start that well but Morgan and Mark and really every body on the boat did really a brilliant job to getting us back into the fleet so
Dean Barker (NZL), skipper-helm of Emirates Team New Zealand:
"Quantum Racing had some good fortune in a couple of races, ion one of the runs, in the last one they got back in the last run, it was a bit frustrating for us."