Monday, May 12, 2008

Paul Cayard on Alicante Tp52 Regatta

Photo by Ian Roman/Medcup
The 2008 Med Cup is about to get under way here in Alicante. 20 boats are present, with a little more than half the fleet sailing new boats just built this winter. The season consists of 6 events over 5 months with a stand alone event for a World Championship in October in Lanzarote. For the complete schedule visit

I am sailing with the Spanish team, El Desafio, which has built a new Vrolijk designed boat last winter in their base in Valencia. Following the postponement of the America's Cup last fall, Desafio decided that the sporting program for the team in 2008 would be to compete in the TP 52 circuit and the GP 42 Circuit. The GP 42 was already in place and in fact had won the 2007 season with Laureano Wizner at the helm and a crew made of the Desafio Español sailors.

The decision to build the new TP 52 was taken in mid December and I for one thought it could not be done. But Agustin Zulueta, Managing Director of Desafio Español was confident his "boys" could do it. The mold of Bribon and Matador, two 2007 designs that were very good, was used to speed up the process. The boat was started January 4th and was launched April 20th!

They built the entire boat in the Desafio base in Valencia with the shore team and crew! The longest lead time item was a new mast. A new one could not be built in time. So the team acquired the spare mast from Anonimo from last year and we are starting with that. The sails are by North designer Sandro Benini who has done a great job designing sails for this fleet for the past four years.

We spent the last 10 days tuning up the boat and getting the bugs worked out while sailing out of our base in Valencia. We hosted the Quantum Racing team with Terry Hutchinson as the helm. We got some good training in and now feel we have a good platform to build on.

Today was the final day of practice and in fact we had a practice race. The wind was 10-12 knots with relatively flat seas. The direction at the start was 165 and the wind moved left steadily through out the day to 130. We had a good start at the committee boat and sailed straight out to the left with Quantum, Platoon, and Cam. At the first windward mark Quantum was leading and we were fifth. Up the second windward leg, we got left of the three boats that we between us and Quantum and passed them to finish second. Not a bad way to cap off our training.

The racing will be very difficult and competitive. I am sure that at least 10 of the 20 competitors could win this event. Consistency will be important and probably difficult to attain as so many boats are brand new and still sorting things out.

The format for the regatta is 10 races with all races accounting. 2 windward/leeward races are scheduled per day for Tuesday Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday will be the coastal race and there will be two scoring opportunities in that race; one at the midpoint and one at the finish.

I am not sure what the forecast is for tomorrow but it will be a battle. Cayard Sailing Website