The Bay of Angels was in wicked mood for the start of the Sardinia leg of the Audi MedCup, a mid-strength Mistral wind mixing a cocktail of gear-threatening conditions and changing fortunes.
Bits of blown-out sails were scattered on the choppy seas and the racing was fast, furious and close. Revelling in it all, and coping with constant changes in fortune, was the British-based Rán, up front one minute back-marker next, with Niklas Zennström sprinting to a second place in the first race, slipping to fifth in the second.
The downhill runs had echoes of the southern ocean sleigh rides in them as the decks were hosed with foaming water when the bow, despite all possible crew weight bunched at the stern, dug into the wave in front. At times the boats were surfing along at 25 knots.
Going into the downwind turning mark the Italian boat Azzurra managed to hook up Spain’s Bribón, America’s Quantum and Russia’s Synergy, wrap bits of its spinnaker round the top mast of Bribón and take out its masthead wind measurement instruments
Azzurra took a penalty turn, still managed to finish fifth, adding a third in the second race. It was a busy, boisterous day on the bay.
Coming ashore, Zennström was still buzzing. “That is what being in the TP52 class and the Audi MedCup is all about,” he said. “There was a lot of adrenalin and a lot of fun.
“I think we are building our confidence level, but it is all about consistency,” he added. “We know now that we are competitive and it’s about not being afraid, being prepared to be aggressive. It was a bit full on today and our tactician, Gavin Brady, did a very good job.”
The most consistent was the German representative Container, skippered by Markus Wieser, scoring a first and a second. Second in the clubhouse overnight was the Franco-German All4One, with three Olympic golds and a silver Jochen Schuemann at the helm. Rán was third.
“We picked the right lanes today in tough conditions where you had to keep the boat on its feet,” said Hamish Pepper, the tactician on Container. “We have a very experienced team in the middle of the boat who are extremely good at what they do and that makes my life a lot easier.”
Easier, also, is the forecast for conditions on Thursday but by the weekend the stronger breezes could again be in play.