Will light breeze nobble Emirates Team NZ?

Looking ahead to the Audi MedCup's Portugal Trophy

Tuesday August 18th 2009, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
For the nine of the ten TP52 crews assembled at the sumptuous Audi MedCup Village, the question remains how they can match the seemingly relentless march of Emirates Team New Zealand.

One answer might be provided imminently by the weather forecasts for the regatta which suggest very light and light breezes are expected. Conflict between the slow to establish sea-breeze and the NNWerly gradient wind is predicted until the weekend. At best that might mean delayed racing each day. To date the series-leading powerful Kiwi boat, designed by Botin Carkeek has looked weaker in the sub-8 knots wind range.

While the TP52s are due to have their Practice Race Tuesday, the GP42 Series will take to the Atlantic waters on Wednesday for their official practice, and start racing Thursday.

The pursuit of Emirates Team New Zealand has engaged most of the TP52 crews since Cagliari last month, and, equally, the drive to stay ahead of the pack has kept the Kiwi team fully occupied, but one newcomer to the Audi MedCup Circuit has been finding her feet here, learning fast as one of the crew on Quantum Racing.

Katie Burns, a petite 24 year old from Virginia Beach, VA has been quietly thankful of the gentle winds which provided a benign baptism for the winner of Quantum Sails’ worldwide ‘Living the Dream’ contest. Here she is, with the dream unfolding, winner of the ultimate prize, being a fully fledged member of the Audi MedCup winning team for the entire Portugal Trophy regatta.

Any challenge by fire was not from stress or activity pressed on to Burns but from from the fierce sunshine on the relatively still waters off Praia da Rocha

She signed up for military service as an 18 year old, straight from school, and saw active service in Iraq. Her winning short, pithy essay came out on top of nearly 900 entries with a high percentage of the public vote. Her account of life on the front line in Iraq was a sharp reminder of action under real pressure, and how it is still possible to raise a smile, even when you are under mortar attack.

Katie (or Big Cup Katie as she’s known to her sizeable fan base in the USA) took her first baby steps on Quantum Racing on Saturday.

“I’ve just been learning the lines, the drills and what is going to be expected of me, where I am going to be sitting.” She smiled after a gentle day sail testing off Portimao. “So far what I think my objective is mostly to just be here and to share the experience, to come off the boat and raise awareness of the sport and the team. Obviously not everyone is ever going to get this opportunity and hope I can share it with everyone.”

“My first impression is of the camaraderie which is evident on the team. Everyone knows each other, their families, and knows everything which is going on with each other. It builds better team cohesion, simply because they know each other so well and how every person ticks. You see that a lot in the military.”

After six years service she left the 2-224th Aviation Battalion last month and is now a journalism major student in Washington DC, attending the University of the District of Columbia. She has sailed on an off since she was ten, following a traditional route through Optimist, 420 and 470 dinghies but now mainly races on a Thompson 30.

“I’ve always been aware of the MedCup Circuit and we have Quantum Sails on our Thompson 30 back home and I am very aware of what they have done for the sport, and especially the athleticism of the sport. And that is one of my goals to try and explain how it is an athletic sport, we are not out there strolling around the deck, kicking back and having a cup of tea. I think people are starting to see that now.

“I was so nervous. I just wanted to get out there and not mess up. I mean obviously I am not doing a whole lot on the boat. I don’t have any specific job on the boat. Terry has been great, we met a couple of weeks ago and he is very communicative, making sure I have everything I need. He cares that everyone has the same goal and is very competitive and driven and wants to ensure that everyone on the team has the same goal, to win.”

Terry Hutchinson (USA), Quantum Racing’s skipper-helm is confident she is fitting in, learning hard and loving the experience: “She is getting a sense of the whole thing, and was predictably a little hesitant first time out, trying not to get in the way, but the one thing you definitely know about her in the manner she approached life, going into the military straight out of high school and how she did well with that whole thing, she will come into this situation and will be able to assess it fairly quickly and get on with it well with the crew.”

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