A bumpy start had the analysers and debriefers working at full tilt after the first day’s racing for Britain’s new entry to the Audi MedCup, Niklas Zennström’s Rán, posted a sixth and a fourth in tricky conditions.
Both Zennström and his chief lieutenant, Tim Powell, who also trims the mainsheet, agreed that mistakes had been costly.
“We went from a bad start to end up making life very difficult in the first race,” said Powell. “It was also expensive in that we ripped a spinnaker and we have a limited number for the season under the rules.
“The second race was a lot better,” he said, “but we were still not firing on all cylinders. We just need to calm it down a little, the anxiety factor was a bit high. We know how to sail the boat, so we just need to take a step back for some calm assessment.”
A gusty, 16 to 18-knot north-westerly and a showery track provided a challenging start for the seven boats racing - Britain’s absent Tony Langley is expected to do only three of the five regattas – and six of those seven are new boats, most racing in anger for the first time.
Although the performance gaps were expected to be small, though with some giving slight emphasis to breezy conditions, some light, there were plenty of opportunities for big gaps to be created. Going fast in the wrong direction is always ugly and boat handling errors are both painful and costly.
That was the case for the Russian entry, Synergy, which blitzed its way to a win in the first race and then, when contesting the lead in the second, turned what should have been the slick manoeuvre of taking down the spinnaker into a horror show.
The Russians have almost the same crew which finished the last season, have built a brand new boat designed by Marcelino Botin in the same mould as was used for the new Quantum, where Ed Baird has taken over as skipper from Terry Hutchinson, and also carried out some crew training in the RC44 series.
Jubilant at the end of racing was the ever effervescent skipper of Italy’s Azzurra, Francesco Bruni, who had seen a spectacular win in the second race engineered by a tactical call which took them from fifth to first. “You won’t always be given that kind of opportunity, but we knew it was there and we took it,” said Bruni, who had seen the boat win convincingly when warming up in Palm de Mallorca.
Leading overall was the German boat Container with two seconds. “We sailed conservatively, we capitalised on other people’s mistakes, and we are very happy, said navigator Marc Lagesse.
Thursday sees the addition of racing for the new Soto 40 class, new, that is, to the Audi MedCup circuit. Tony Buckingham will not be on board his new Ngoni but is expected to be in Marseille next month for the second in the series of five regattas.