Spectacular racing on final day of Sardinia Trophy


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The Independent Online

A one-two for Audi-sponsored boats in the Audi-sponsored MedCup crowned some spectacular and close racing on the final day of the Sardinia Trophy.

There was even an improvement on the previous disastrous day for Hamble-based Niklas Zennström’s Rán but, despite damage and penalty setbacks, the overall series leader remains the American Quantum team.

Both the Franco-German All4One and Italy’s Azzurra chose Cagliari to make a comeback, All4One’s skipper Jochen Sch?mann, with a grin from ear to ear, putting two disappointing regattas in Cascais and Marseille behind him to top the podium at last.

But he is still bottom of the table, excepting Tony Langley making only occasional appearances in Gladiator, after three regattas and will need to keep up the new-found winning ways for the final two regattas, in Cartagena and Barcelona, if he is to begin to threaten Quantum.

For Azzurra, whose home club, the Aga Khan’s Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, is at Porto Cervo in the north of the island, they just sailed better and better at the end. Said their irrepressible tactician Vasco Vascotti: “When we were in a bad spot, it was friendship that made things better.”

It puts Azzurra third overall behind the German Container team, skippered by Markus Wieser, which threatened so much but too often tripped up.

For Quantum it was just a case of shrugging shoulders and concentrating on the main goal, which is to win the 2011 series. Skippered by Ed Baird, they had to retire from the first of two races, which the forecasters had said would be threatened by a north-westerly Mistral which would be too boisterous to race.

It was suitably brisk and bumpy enough to put one of the stays which hold up Quantum’s mast under enough of a shock load to break. A replacement was fitted and all was well in the second race until they tacked far too close for comfort to the Russian yacht Synergy.

Flags and whistles indicated a 360-degree penalty turn and dumped them in last place. Three sixths, a retirement, and a seventh is not remotely like a typical Quantum scoreline,

For Rán tactician Gavin Brady, a fourth and a third on the final day was also a bit of a comeback. “We had a team meeting and upped our performance,” he said. “What we have to do in Cartagena is just look for one extra place point in every race and we will be back on track.”

In Cascais, the first America’s Cup challenger casualty was expected as, less than two weeks ahead of the opening world series regatta, to be staged in 45-foot wing-powered catamarans, Italy’s Palermo-based Venezia team was saying: “Unless there is a miracle, we will have to stay at home.”

There is also a question mark over the continued participation of the China Team, despite being in Portugal and having been to train on the boat in Auckland.” All I can say at the moment is ‘no comment’,” said skipper Mitch Booth. Believed also to be searching for a last-minute solution, he was, however reported to be flying home on Sunday afternoon..

But a spokesman for the Valencia-based but Italian-financed GreenComm said that the team was already in Cascais and he expected to compete in the week-long series starting 6 August.

The second regatta is in Plymouth in September and the third in San Diego in November, but it has not yet been announced how many of the other seven teams will be in America. There are also two challenger hopefuls from France and one from Korea.

The Swedish challenger of record, Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis, and Emirates Team New Zealand are considered solid, though ETNZ boss Grant Dalton is mighty unhappy about the way in which the holder, Oracle Racing, is running things.

And, though bids were supposed to be closed at the end of last month, the remainder of the dates and venues for the 2011-12 America’s Cup World Series have yet to be announced. Nor has any confirmed television coverage been released to challengers seeking sponsorship.

Audi MedCup Circuit 2011, Region of Sardinia Trophy

52 Series

1 Audi Sailing Team Powered By All4One (GER FRA) 26.5

2 Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (IT) 35.5

3 Bribon (SPA) 37

4 Container (GER) 38

5 Quantum Racing (USA) 42

6 RÁN (SWE) 43.5

7 Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) 44.5

40 Series

1 Iberdrola Team (SPA) 9

2 Noticia IV (SPA) 15

3 Ngoni (GB) 22

4 XXII Sardinia (ITA) 24

Audi MedCup Circuit 2011, overall results to date

52 Series

1 Quantum Racing (USA) 91

2 Container (GER) 98

3 Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (IT) 105

4 Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) 121

5 Bribon (SPA) 122.5

6 RÁN (SWE) 125.5

7 Audi Sailing Team Powered By All4One (GER FRA) 128

8 Gladiator (GB) 218

40 Series

1 Iberdrola Team (SPA) 36

2 Noticia IV (SPA 62)

3 XXII 73

4 Ngoni (GBR) 81

5 Patagonia (ARG) 87