Coastal surprises?

The first coastal course of the season has the potential to be one of the most spectacular of the season as the Cascais Trophy, the first event of the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit takes the TP52 fleet up the River Tejo towards Lisbon.

Carrying a bounty of 1.5 points there is no room for early mistakes which too often prove difficult to come back from on the longer course. Course distance in total should be between 25 and 30 miles.

The forecast shows mainly NNW’ winds but the reality is there is likely to be more left hand wind out towards Cabo Raso and probably much more left hand in the River, so flexibility and anticipation are vital.

The course starts with the windward leeward loop with the windward mark set close to the entrance to the Marina of Cascais, so more east of the course area which has been used to date, and it will be much mores shifty and puffy as the TP52’s close the shore.

Then the pressure gradient will increase quickly on the downwind leg and so any early advantage is magnified. From there it is a close reach out to Cabo Raso, long broad reach/run out to a fixed offshore mark before a gybe to reach into the river.

The most easterly mark has a flexible position and so that is to say it will be more towards the spectacular 25 de Abril bridge, but the likely turns could be at Santa Maria de Belém as it was last year.

And from there the finish is back off the marina, an upwind from the original pin end mark. The wind range looks to be between as little as 5-6 kts in the river and up to 18 knots at the western turn.

In the TP52 Series fleet it is Quantum Racing who head out with a three points lead with Container second.

The Soto 40 Series race two more windward-leeward races with the second contest set to finish off the harbour entrance too.

Ed Baird (USA) skipper-helm Quantum Racing (USA): “For me it is a totally new concept and so I will just be listening very carefully to what the navigator and the tactician tell me to do. I will try to help think ahead a bit. But it will be interesting because the way the boat is set up it is not very easy to change jibs, it is not even that easy to change spinnakers, you really do have to be able to be flexible in each situation especially as you go up the river.

We have learned a lot abut the boat these past few days but we are far from knowing it as well as we would like to. We are just going to keep trying.”

The answer to our consistency lies in the fact that we are sailing in a conservative way, not taking many risks. The reason: our boat is not as fast upwind as Quantum´s or Audi Azzurra´s, but we usually manage to stay in a good position, so we catch up going downwind. It´s important to have a good, solid team. We have a reliable crew with great guys onboard, and that makes us feel very confident. The coastal race is always different. You have to be in a good position at the top mark because after that if you manage to stay ahead, chances are you´ll be in good shape at the end. We arrived here wanting to check and see how competitive and reliable our boat was and we are really happy. For me it´s the first Audi MedCup event, and so far I´ve learned a lot. As I say everyday, we have to go out there, minimize our mistakes and see what comes out of that”.

Marc Lagesse (SA), navigator, Container (GER):

“The forecast for today is basically the same as yesterday. For the coastal race the wind offshore will be very strong and inshore will definitely be lighter. We don´t really have a planned strategy; for the first part of the race any wind will do it, and once we start the coastal part of it we´ll play with what we´ve got, see what happens. It´s definitely an exciting course, going up the river with all the tides and the currents. It should be a very interesting day. We haven´t broken anything so far and all the systems are working. We are reliable because of our safe starts, after that we let the boat do the work. The other teams have had issues and we haven´t, but I´m sure that they are learning a lot about their boats and they´ll sail better. We have to take one regatta at a time, not think about the whole thing”.

Juan Luis Páez (ESP), navigator, Soto 40 Iberdrola Team (ESP):

“The weather´s going to be similar as yesterday´s, with strong winds blowing from the NW. We´ll have to do better than yesterday. We had a pretty bad start but we managed to finish second, we are quite happy about that. The start is one of the keys for a good race because it´s tough to recover if you don´t start well. If we avoid making mistakes like that, we´ll finish in the top three teams. If you finish among the best three teams at the end of the day you keep your chances of winning the trophy alive. It is just now that we are seeing the results of a well-planned pre-season, having a ready to go boat, and the hard work done by Agustín Zulueta, the owner, and Pablo Rosales, our Technical Director. These might be the keys that explain why we are a bit ahead of the rest”.