Friday, May 16, 2008

Mean Machine on top

A fifth win in a row for Peter de Ridder and his team on Mean Machine extended the lead of the 2006 MedCup champions to six points as the City of Alicante Trophy regatta, the first of the 2008 Audi MedCup circuit moves into its final day.

After winning yesterday’s 30 miles coastal race by a comfortable margin there was a sense of déjà vu this afternoon as Dutch owner De Ridder and his crew established their early lead off the start line and lead at each mark.

Their nearest opposition was the current MedCup champion Torbjorn Tornqvist (SWE) with his new Artemis, but it was on the final windward leg that Mean Machine’s tactical brains, Ray Davies (NZL) and Tom Dodson (NZL) called the shifting breeze right and crossed the finish line of what proved to be a well timed shortened course. Mean Machine left Artemis trailing nearly one minute behind, but the Swedish skipper and crew, lead by John Kostecki (USA) as tactician, are now finding their stride with the new Artemis as they learn the optimum rig and sail settings. Three consecutive second places ensure Artemis have climbed to fifth overall.

Race 7 of the regatta enjoyed a brisk 14-16 knots of southerly breeze. Mean Machine’s strategy was designed as much to ensure a period of clear wind immediately after the start gun as it was in dragging to the favored side of the course. Platoon powered by Team Germany, with triple Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann steering, went to the opposite flank and rounded fourth 33 seconds behind the leaders..

Their fifth victory in a row for the team which won the MedCup in 2006, surpasses their string of four wins in Punta Ala in 2006, on the previous Mean Machine’s debut regatta. Increasingly De Ridder and team - a potent mix of down to earth Kiwis, American, Dutch and British sailors - look like they could repeat that maiden regatta victory. Full Report