DE RIDDER and the Mutua Madrileña crew win the Athens Trophy, their second regatta victory after winning the MEDCUP season opener in Punta Ala, Italy back in May. While their win was immensely satisfying for the Mean Machine team, their 3,3,1,2,1,9,2,3 scoreline proved a model of consistency for a notoriously tricky venue but more importantly left them with a 14 point cushion going in to the final event of the Breitling MEDCUP TP52 circuit, a showcase finale in Ibiza, Spain next month.
'There will be a bit a duke out in Ibiza. I am sure neither of us will be taking any prisoners. It will be all out war and it is going to be a fun event, certainly.' Mutua's tactician Ray DAVIES (NZL) grinned dockside, soaked with champagne.
The fourth Corinthian Trophy from five regattas for the DE RIDDER mantelpiece is a bonus, but the winning Mutua Madrileña crew know that they will be given no quarter in Ibiza from their Emirates Team New Zealand friends and rivals off Warpath, which finished this regatta with two wins to secure second overall on tie break with the Roberto BERMUDEZ (ESP) skippered Caixa Galicia.
In a light south easterly sea breeze Warpath made the best start in the middle of the start line and were able to take advantage as the breeze stayed in the left phase with more wind pressure on the left side of the course.
Mutua Madrileña did not look clever in the first minutes of the first beat, but managed to track across to reap the benefit on the left, taking four boats on the approach to the windward mark to round fifth.
While Warpath was never challenged after the first turn, Mark REYNOLDS (USA) kept Riccardo SIMONESCHI (ITA) on track on the helm of Anonimo to cross in second, with Mutua Madrileña nailing a useful third. 'Our whole team are sailing are sailing really well as a group. We are getting good boatspeed out of her, good sail combinations. We are confident in the sail crossovers and sail shapes.'
Reported Mutua Madrileña's DAVIES, 'It has been a very tricky place to sail, there have been a lot of opportunities to come back and so you have to keep looking over your shoulder. We had an awesome first beat after being stuck a bit in the pack.'
'We struggled at times but in the light patches we were very quick and downwind we were very fast, managing to pass Bambakou down the last run to get third.'
'It has been the trickiest place to sail so far. The sea breeze and the Meltemi fighting each other through the week has been a challenge, and then this final day with just a soft sea breeze developing close to the shore and getting lighter at the top of the course. We got all the races in and this is very good venue, and to experience what everyone went through at the Olympics.'
'I am a happy man.' DE RIDDER confirmed, 'As we get closer to Ibiza it was important to have a good one here, at least top three but we had a net gain on Warpath, and it was very important to be on the podium.'
'Ray DAVIES is the tactician. He is the head of the office. Ray, Tom Dodson and I will sit down and discuss things before the regatta and then we have team meetings all the way through and have dinner, breakfast together and go out together and so the team spirit is good. And it also means we don't have to have a lot of talk to get the team going.'
'I think there was such a small chance of moving up to second, that we needed two races today, and we managed to claw back another couple of points so we are clearly not out of the overall yet, there is still a chance in Ibiza and that is all we can hope for after the start we made here,' remarked Warpath's BARKER, 'I think we figured it out here towards the end but we had a couple of mixed results at the beginning and that's frustrating.'
After a disappointing Copa del Rey, where they finished eleventh overall, Caixa Galicia bounced back to finish third overall here in Athens, losing out only on countback to Warpath's two firsts.
'The top guys sail so well it is hard for us to take the overall but to be third and near second is very good for us,' BERMUDEZ, 'It is a tricky place to sail as I knew from the Olympics. John KOSTECKI [(USA)] did a good job for us and it is a pleasure to sail with him. We have a good time and he makes us improve.'
It was another disappointing day for the British boat Cristabella, which promised so much at the start of the week, but faded badly over the last two races, bagging a pair of 13s, to finish fourth overall, eleven points shy of Caixa.
'It's disappointing,' stated Cristabella's Charlie MCKEE (GBR). 'We chose the wrong side today and it just did not work for us. But we sailed a good regatta, just not good enough to win. The boat is good and the crew is good, but in the end I think we deserved to finish where we did.'