Picking themselves up, dusting themselves down, and starting all over again, the American team Quantum banged in a second and a first on the second day of the Sardinia Trophy, the third of five regattas in the Audi MedCup series.
Stung by two sixth places on the opening day, there was much agitated debriefing and analysis overnight and the boat left the dock well ahead of the others with skipper Ed Baird and British tactician Adrian Stead determined to re-establish some sort of supremacy.
The breeze had been forecast to turn a bit soggy, but, although down on the previous day’s bluster, was still lively and needed sharp assessment to pick the mainly left hand favoured side of the course.
Stead and Baird covered all the bases, but could not pass the Russians in sistership Synergy in the first race, while the one-two glory of the first day came to an abrupt end as Germany’s Container, helmed by Markus Wieser, bombed to seventh in the first race of the day and had to fight hard for a fourth in the second race.
In a fleet which can see fortunes swing violently, Niklas Zennström’s Hamble-based Rán fought its way back to be fourth in the first race, but could manage only sixth in the second. “At what is not the halfway stagevof the 2011 series everyone is now going at the same speed,” said Rán tactician Gavin Brady. “So everyone can have a god race; it’s a question of how bad are the bad ones.”
All of which meant that a more tightly sailed Franco-German All4One, skippered by Jochen Sch?mann, moved to the top of the table, Container slipped to second, Quantum climbed to third and Rán dropped from third to fifth.
Opening their Sardinia campaigns were the Soto 40 class with Tony Buckingham carrying the flag for Britain. The South American-bred 40 from Argentina has replaced the more expensive GP42 which formerly was part of the Audi circuit and only four of the opening fleet of five are on the start line off Cagliari, but the technical director, Nacho Postigo, is confident there could be up to 12 next year.
Buckingham, a man with a mixed military and business background, says: "It’s fantastic. I love the boat to pieces. It’s very technical to sail, but downwind it is electric, much more fun than the Farr 40s. We are definitely going to give it a couple of seasons and there is nothing to compare in terms of bang for buck.”
He does not think it likely that he would compete in a fleet in the UK, where he also has a rather under-used Jersey-based Melges 32 and enjoys shooting and fly fishing. Nor does he want to see an owner-driver rule. “I want the class to be totally open, I don’t believe in an owner-drive rule, it should be a free-for-all,” he says.
It is typical of Buckingham’s buccaneer style. The boat is named Ngoni “after a central African tribe of marauders. I just liked the name. It is short and to the point,” he says.
But, as a man who has organised everything from armies to oil and diamond exploration, Buckingham has ever-watchful eyes on the difficult economic times which could affect the class. “After all, it is always the toys that are the first to go. But we need a spectrum of people to race this class and the sport in general needs consolidation.”
He researched the boat on the net and YouTube and decided “there was more fun than the average bear should be allowed.”
A pair of competitive thirds on a boat which has been converted from his more usual wheel to tiller steering were still enjoyable despite one spectacular wipeout on a downwind leg.
They also echoed down the years his third in the Tour de France a la Voile in 2000, in which he also sailed, in a boat called Easy Oars, with his current tactician, Kevin Sproul. That race was won by Adrian Stead in Barlo Plastics.
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