Nico Martinez / Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre

First blood to Ran

As Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre sets sail in Palma

Monday July 16th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Conditions on the Bay of Palma couldn't have been better for the start of the Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre.

Although the fleet had to wait an hour and 20 minutes before the postponement flag was dropped, crews was finally rewarded with a southerly breeze of 10-12 knots on the two windward-leeward courses today.

All the classes were on the water by 13:30 and sailed two races, while the Soto 40s had their practice race today.

Among the Mini Maxis, Niklas Zennström's Judel Vrolijk 72 Rán delivered a great performance on the water by winning the day's first race, and followed this with a second to lead overall on handicap. This boat, which won the 2010 Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in 2010, now leads overall followed by Sir Peter Ogden's Jethou, and the latest 72ft Vrolijk designed Mini Maxis, Hap Fauth's new Bella Mente and Stig.

Twin racers Hugues and Sebastien Destremau launched Paprec to victory in the opening day of the IRC 1 competition, claiming the team’s first race win in this their second tilt for glory in the largest regatta in the Mediterranean. Of the 13 teams in IRC 1, eight are 52s and dominated the podium places, with the French team leading on five points followed by Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One and Tony Langley's Gladiator.

Paprec Recyclage tactician, Sebastien Destremau, said there were several distinct changes that had the team on target to improve on their debut Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre result of seventh in 2011: “The boat is much faster than last year, we took some weight off the boat and have a deeper keel, plus we have some new sails and instead of me at the helm it’s my brother, he’s a much better skipper than me. Last year we couldn’t compete with the other boats; downwind we were slower, upwind we were lower. Until now we’ve never sailed in medium wind with the modifications we made in winter so we’re pleasantly surprised with the pace.”

Aiding Audi All4One’s second overall was Olympic Gold medallist and ex-Alinghi America’s Cup champion Jordi Calafat, who used his local knowledge to navigate the team to a respectable second and third across the line in the two races. The Palma born sailor played the local embat breeze to perfection, skipper Jochen Schümann said, and continued the team’s competitive form just days after finishing third in the Royal Cup: “There were so may changes in the lead out there, and there were a lot of opportunities for people to pass you on both sides,’’ he said. “Having Jordi was great for two reasons, he knows this place so he could read the difficult shifts and we’ve raced together for so long, we have the same style of sailing and we have a good understanding of each other.”

Third overall Gladiator finished first and fourth in a welcome return to form for the team who struggled in the Royal Cup last week, when they were forced to retire from two races following a collision and a third when gale force winds proved too much.

Pitman Guy Barron said scoring a win in the opening race was the perfect way to shake the disappointment of the Royal Cup, and improve on the team’s sixth place in last year’s Copa del Rey: “It’s very good competition here and going into the race we always thought we could do well, and it was nice to cement that in the first race,’’ he said. “It’s great to get off to a good start. We’ve just put together a better team than last year, (skipper) Tony (Langley) has spent more time in the boat and it’s been great to have the 52 Super Series Royal Cup before hand to help improve our performance.”

It was a much tougher day for Turkish team Provezza, which just minutes before the start signal sounded were forced to dispatch a crewman to their chase boat after he injured his hand. The crewman was rushed to shore where an ambulance awaited to transfer him to hospital for treatment.

At the end of day one, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team are fourth, followed by PowerPlay, Emma, Bronenosec, Provezza 7, Aquila, Aifos, Imagine, Arobas and Phoenix.

The Spanish-Portuguese alliance aboard Swanderful was rewarded with a second and a first position in the first two races for the RI1 class. Spanish VOR runner up Roberto Bermúdez de Castro is calling tactics on the Swan 52 owned by Portugual's José Caldeira. Defending Champion Rafael Carbonell's Rats on Fire won the first race, but a third position in the second one leaves them second overall.

The Copa del Rey's one-design classes, the J/80s and X-35's, race today, the forme class led by Mapfre of Carlos Martínez.

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