And today Bribon

The Bouwe Bekking driven TP 52 takes the lead on the penultimate day of the Trofeo Alicante

Saturday June 16th 2007, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: none selected
At the end of each day of the Trofeo Alicante, the first regatta of the 2007 Breitling MedCup, there has been a different leader: Balearia, Patches, Caixa Galicia and today, Bribon. While it was the pink flamed bow of Peter de Ridder's 2006 Breitling MedCup winner Valle Romano Mean Machine which breached the points gate and then the finish first, second in both sections vaulted Bribon to lead the overall standings.
Bribon goes into the final two scheduled windward-leeward races tomorrow (Sunday) with an eight points cushion.

By comparison with the preceding coastal race, it proved a day free of drama and controversy.

The southerly breeze offered the full range from eight to 18 to four knots through the 28 miles course which took the fleet round Tabarca Island from the SW to NW. A long tactical beat in a building breeze saw the fleet split with a big lateral separation. The left hand group benefitted from better pressure and a lift before they headed for a short, orderly Code Zero procession across the top of the island. A tight reach under spinnaker back to round the pin mark for the start line was followed by a brisk, invigorating beat. The windward leg saw the breeze at 16-18 knots with the reward being an arced up sleigh ride back before gybing down the Alicante coast. A sting in the tale was delivered when the wind threatened a late afternoon siesta just by the finishing line, dropping to just a few knots.

While Mean Machine was the day’s top performer, making a solid pin end start and hustling upwind with the left side vanguard along with Vasco Vascotto’s Mutua Madrilena and Bribon, those who erred right towards Cabo di Santa Pola searching for the starboard tack lift found themselves with slightly less breeze.

Overnight leader Caixa Galicia, skippered by Roberto Bermudez, suffered more than most after starting near the pin end of the line, then tacking all the way to the right. At the scoring gate Caixa were 16th and by the finish they pulled up to 13th, but dropped to sixth overall in the process.

Bribon have had just one big score, a 14th but so far have managed to stay in the top six in every race. Can they clinch their first ever Breitling MedCup regatta win tomorrow? "I think we can win it, but we just need to go out tomorrow and do our best,” says Bribon’s tactician Ross Macdonald, 2006 Olympic Star silver medallist and twice Bacardi Cup winner. “We are looking good. The whole goal here was to keep the boat together and we have a few new guys on the boat who are new so it takes time to get to know each other. A couple of the guys in the middle are new and the mastman is new.

"The boat is great. We haven’t seen any huge weakness which is nice. We have sailed in light wind and some breeze and we have gone pretty well in both. The other change since last year is we have left the Corinthian division and we have gone for the Pro. Bouwe [Bekking] is driving and the sail programme has evolved a little but we have not made a dramatic change in it. And the philosophy with the boat might have changed a little bit, making sure that even though we sail a lot in light air here, when the breeze is getting up we don’t get left behind. It is a slightly fuller boat than the last one, a little more powerful."

He recalled that their tactics were slightly dictated too them: "We kind of thought that the right might be better early and the left better later on. Even though we had a good start we kind of got stuck in traffic and then about 10 minutes into the race we could see a few cruising boats lifted up on port tack towards the island, so we kind of knew that it would be okay if we were just a little patient. That made it pretty easy.

"We had a few boat handling issues, nothing major but enough to scare us a little bit. The spinnaker halyard got stuck in the furler for the Code Zero so we had to wait a little bit until we could hoist. It didn’t cost us a place, but it did cost us about a boatlength against Mean Machine," concluded MacDonald.

Reigning champion Peter de Ridder and Valle Romano Mean Machine are in the hunt now, lying in second overall: "I think we had a good race today," explained de Ridder. "I think you can see what I was saying to the crew for a couple of days, that we have to have a good start. We went to the pin, so we were looking for clear air and going full speed on the line. And then things don’t happen like they do the last couple of days when you start in the middle of the pack and you go to the lay-line and then you are bounced above the layline, and you end up making many more tacks than you want to do. No we can sail our own race and let our speed work for us.

"I think that generally we had a bit more pressure on the left and we were also sailing for a little while in a nice little lift, maybe 10-15 degrees, and when we were headed again getting to the island we were far enough advanced not to worry.

"I think all the boats around us are about the same for speed. The new boats are now the same as us, last year we maybe had a speed edge, but now they are the same, especially the Judel-Vrolijk boats. So now we just have to do a better job than the other guys. So that is in everything, in making your sail choices, in your development programme, everything."

And in third, Vasco Vascotto and the team on Mutua Madrilena, are breathing down the necks of de Ridder and crew, just one point behind. They have steadily improved from eighths and ninths on the first couple of days with their new Botin & Carkeek design to earn 7,5,4,3 over the coastal races. Asked if that progression meant a certain second and first tomorrow, the upbeat Vascotto grinned: “Where can I sign that?! If I could sign somewhere that I would come second and first tomorrow, then I would as this is difficult!

"I am happy that we are amongst the top ten boats as it is difficult and we have to make a real effort to stay in that position. I think we are doing it quite well: the boat is good, the crew is very good - maybe what we ought to change is the skipper.. I don´t really want to take any risks as every start is madness. I think that although there are still some 45 races to go. I am happy to be able to keep the discards until the end of the series. We are still working out how to run the boat but what we have proved it that it has a lot of potential in winds of under 15 knots."

Results

Pos Boat Nat R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Tot
WL WL WL C C C C
1 BRIBON   ESP   6 2 14 5 4 2 2 35
2 Valle Romano - Mean Machine  MON  16 7 1 10 7 1 1 43
3 Mutua Madrileña  ESP  8 9 8 7 5 4 3 44
4 Artemis  SWE  11 1 3 1  24 DSQ  7 7 54
5 Patches  IRE  5 5 2 18 12 10 6 58
6 CxG Corporación CaixaGalicia  ESP  3 4 11 8 3 16 13 58
7 PLATOON  GER  4 13 17 6 8 6 5 59
8 SIEMENS  ARG  10 14 5 3 2 13 15 62
9 ANONIMO Q8  ITA  2 17 6 11 15 5 8 64
10 BALEARIA  ESP  1 10 12 12 14 12 10 71
11 CAM, Caja Mediterráneo  ESP  15 3 15 2 1 17 20 73
12 ONO  ESP  14 6 7 21 19 3 4 74
13 Cristabella  GBR  7 8 9 20 13 11 9 77
14 RUSAL - Synergy  RUS  12 21 18 4 6 9 12 82
15 Bambakou  USA  13 11 13 17 16 8 11 89
16 Stay Calm  GBR  17 18 4 9 9 20 17 94
17 Bigamist 6  POR  21 12 10 13 10 21 19 106
18 WINDQUEST  USA  18 20 19 14 11 18 16 116
19 C-Quadrat - Aspecta ASTRO  AUS  23 15 16 23 20 14 14 125
20 AIFOS  ESP  9 22 22 19 17 15 21 125
21 Tau ceramica-Andalucia  ESP  19 16 20 16 22 19 18 130
22 VALARS  RUS  20 23 21 15 18 23 22 142
23 Glory  USA  22 19  24 DNF  22 21 22 23 153

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