Team Origin enjoy opening day of Audi MedCup

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The Independent Online

The signs of improvement in Britain's Team Origin continued on the opening day of the fourth, of five, Audi MedCup regatta in Spain's Cartagena, especially a start to finish domination of the second race.

Added to a third in the first race, the British were leading overall, enjoying some fresh conditions.

With skipper Ben Ainslie coming away from a Cowes Week win in the 1851 Cup against the America's Cup holders BMW Oracle, confidence was improving.

His fellow Olympic gold medallist tacticians, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, have shown in the series so far that they can make bright calls, the crew has worked out some of the earlier glitches, and they are all learning how to squeeze the best out of what is a new class for them in the newest boat on the circuit.

"Even the training has gone well and we have the same crew for the same time in two consecutive regattas," said Ainslie. "We just had a good day. We sailed really well on what was quite a tricky track.

"Everything went our way today and we had good starts, we went the right way and, though there is still a long way to go even this week, we hope to finish off the season with two good redults."

They also managed to pick up their first win on this year's World Match Race Tour in Marstrand, Sweden. Life is good, and if they can maintain this form for the rest of the week, plus put in a respectable result at the next WMRT event in St. Moritz next week, 2010 will be a year of progress.

There are still major concerns as all the teams wait for the announcement next week about the structure of the next America's Cup, but the British challenger is taking its place as a respected competitor.

Almost exactly two days into the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, Franck Cammas' Volvo Open 70, Groupama, was the first to round Muckle Flugga at the most northerly point of the 1,800-mile course.

They could then head southwest at a speed of over 17 knots with their 19-mile lead rapidly increasing over Spanish rivals Telefonica Azul, skippered by Iker Martinez while they were still beating up to Muckle Flugga. Jonny Malbon's IMOCA 60, Artemis, was a further 77 miles astern.

Happy to have moved up into the lead of the fleet, the navigator on Groupama 70, Jean-Luc Nelias, is certainly not claiming victory: "By slipping across to the east during the climb along the Scottish coast, Telefonica lost out on an opportunity that we were able to make the most of offshore of Edinburgh," he said.

"However, we will soon be at the midway mark, but we're heading towards a windless zone which we won't be able to get round. We're going to take 24 hours to get free of it and that will allow Telefonica to make up ground on us".