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2 June 2005, 04:48 pm
Caixa Galicia Leads
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Breitling MEDCUP 2005
Punta Ala, Italy

Unstable and mild conditions marked the long distance 160 mile race, which began in Punta Ala, Italy on Tuesday. Roberto BERMÚDEZ's (ESP) crew notched up 14 points, meaning they have an outright lead over their closest rivals, after a truly spectacular match race with the American boat, Bambakou.
After nearly 28 hours of racing and 160 nautical miles covered across the Gulf of Follonica and the area of the island of Elba with two rounds of the Island of Montecristo, the Transpac 52 fleet competing in the Breitling MEDCUP have finally docked in the Yacht Club marina of Punta Ala.

The regatta, that was marked by mild and unstable wind conditions, saw numerous changes in positioning, which did not allow any of the vessels to let down their guard.

In Tuesday's start from the waters of Punta Ala, Chilean vessel Pisco Sour, built in Castellon, Spain, skippered by Italian Vasco VASCOTTO with Nacho POSTIGO (ESP) as navigator, took a shortlived lead as Bribon-Movistar (on which HM King Juan Carlos of Spain will take position as skipper today) quickly took over, followed by Lexus, skippered by Russell COUTTS (NZL) with a technical crew that includes Mark REYNOLDS (USA), and veteran America's Cup yachtsman, Peter ISLER (USA), as well as match race yachtsman Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN).

As night fell, with low developing winds, the vessels were 80 miles into the regatta and at the halfway point of this long distance race. At this position the points are calculated as if this were a first race, before carrying on to do the second and last leg of the race.

BERMUDEZ, as skipper led Caixa Galicia across the finishing line with a comfortable and definite lead, followed by the American vessel Bambakou, which has owner John COUMANTAROS (USA) at the helm, and the experienced tactician Santiago LANGE (ARG). They were followed by COUTTS on Lexus, Pisco Sour, and the Orlanda-Olympus and Atalantis, which although it is a Greek boat, is skippered by American Paul CAYARD.

Caixa Galicia proved to be a first class competitor and rival. This was confirmed after the Spanish boat beat the fleet in the second leg, giving the team a comfortable lead in the overall rankings.

After rounding the Montecristo Island in the final strech, the boat onwed by Vicente TIRADO and Bambakou sailed the last 30 miles as an absolutely thrilling match racing. After Caixa Galicia, Bambakou crossed the finish line in second place. Atalanti was third, followed by Orlanda, Bribon, Pisco Sour and Lexus.

Dee SMITH (USA), navigator on Caixa Galicia commented, 'It's been a really tough as always here in Punta Ala , with a lot of wind shifts and changes. The guys did a really great job setting the sails up and down all the time. I don't know how many times we passed Bambakoo and they passed us but we got lucky at a couple of places and finally won, that is what we wanted.'

Bambakou's owner, COUMANTAROS, was also satisfied, 'It's been a long and very exciting race. I don't know how many times we have changed places with Caixa Galicia in the last part. Being a Corinthian I can't compete against the top professional people here but it's very exiting to beat them, it's thanks to the team we could beat them as I have a very good team and they have to compensate my weakness on the helm. I also have also an amateur helmsman taking the helm downwind, Craig HEALY.'

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Leader, Caixa Galicia:© Ivo Rovira
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