All4One hammers home an emphatic win


Magnifique! Wunderbar! The Franco-German All4One hammered home an emphatic win in the high-scoring coastal race off Sardinia to extend its lead in the Audi MedCup.

But British hopes again evaporated as Niklas Zennström’s Rán was disappointingly last, echoing the poor long race performance in the same series last year of Britain’s America’s Cup hopefuls campaigning Origin for Sir Keith Mills.

After a soggy Friday, the Mistral wind was up early again on the Bay of Angels and continued to strengthen through a catch-up short upwind-downwind race and then through the 30-miler.

It was a solid 20 to 25 knots with puffs to favour some and lulls to frustrate others, but Jochen Sch?mann has three firsts and two thirds in the seven races for the TP52s so far and has turned around a team that had looked wobbly in the first two regattas.

Afterwards, Gavin Brady, tactician on Rán said: “It was just one of those days. Three quarters of the way through the race, third place was still up for grabs, but one leg cost us a lot as we just did not have the right sail.”

At times the second fleet on t5he circuit, the Soto 40s, were at their limit but Spain’s Iberdrola continued its winning ways, despite being put under pressure by Britain’s Tony Buckingham.

His Ngoni was leading the second race of the day when he blew the corner of a spinnaker already damaged in the hoist for the first downwind run. Then, the lighter version sent up for the second run, took one look and said “not for me, thanks but no thanks”  and promptly split spectacularly in two.

Buckingham still managed to hold on to second and must have been relieved, when crossing the finish line inside the harbour, that plans for a third race up and downwind had been shelved.

“We were fast upwind,” said tactician Kevin Sproul, “and I think we have the boat set up well. But we still have lots to do to improve boat handling.” In that weight of breeze no amount of boat handling would have saved a light wind spinnaker.

That leaves Spain’s Iberdrola in an unassailable lead of the 40s and All4One needing a disastrous final day if it is to be beaten. That is, if the regatta has not already been decided. Some forecasts have even more breeze for Sunday.