British-based Rán win Audi MedCup in Barcelona


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The Independent Online

Victory was sweet for the British-based Rán winning the Barcelona Trophy finale of the Audi MedCup series. It crowned a debut season for Skype founder Niklas Zennström in his 52-footer and completed the treble of back-to-back Fastnet Race wins and the Mini-maxi division of the world series in Porto Cervo.

Even the normally reserved Zennström was enthusiastically spraying and being sprayed by champagne at the end, though the biggest smile belonged to wife Catherine, who sails all the races with him.

“Just fantastic,” he said. “This was a learning year so it is amazing to end on such a high. This was a much harder competition and there are some of the best sailors in the world in the opposition.

“Today was very stressful, but then it has been a tough week of very, very intensive racing.”

If there was a touch of sadness to an otherwise celebratory afternoon, it was that the Spanish yacht Bribón had to be content with second place in its swansong regatta on its home waters.

Owner José Cusi was bringing the curtain down on over 40 years of racing yachts of this name, many of them in collaboration with the king of Spain, Juan Carlos, who also said that this regatta would mark his exit from top class racing.

He returned from the race course to rapturous applause on the dockside and a loud relay of the Barcelona song which was the anthem of the 1992 Olympic Games.

Bribón was also second in the five-regatta series that made up Audi MedCup 2011, unable to catch the American team Quantum. It was champion in 2008, when the skipper was Terry Hutchinson, then lost out to a storming challenge from Emirates Team New Zealand in 2009 and 2010, and has now reclaimed top spot with new skipper Ed Baird.

“It’s been a tough year and this win feels great,” said Quantum team manager Ed Reynolds. “When it really mattered they stepped up and showed what they really had.”

The plans for next year are trending away from the MedCup being predominantly staged in the Mediterranean. Again starting in Cascais, Portugal, the signs are that it may move to Keil in Germany and Malmo, Sweden, before returning to the Med.

All the grand prix circuits are experiencing the same difficulties in persuading host cities to part with taxpayer euros at a time when there is so much economic uncertainty.

But the Soto 40 division is predicted to grow significantly with Britain’s Ngoni, owned by Tony Buckingham, finishing third overall and having won the fourth regatta in Cartagena.

“Overall, we are happy with third at the end of the season,” said Kevin Sproul, standing in for Buckingham on the last day. “We knew this would be a big exercise and hope we can carry it through next year.”