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15 July 2005, 03:12 pm
Azur De Puig Takes Overall Line Honours In Offshore Race
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Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship 2005
Mahòn, Minorca, Spain

Azur de Puig, the Spanish B&C49 owned by Marta Mas BORRELL, with Jose Maria TORCIDA at the helm and America's Cup veteran Dee SMITH (USA)calling the tactics, took line honours in the Offshore Race of the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship 2005, a 70 mile race around the island of Menorca, Spain.

Azur de Puig crossed the finish line at 00:21:54 hours local time today, followed by Cam at 02:06:48 hours and Tau Ceramica at 02:10:24. The rest of the Non Corinthian fleet followed in a tight pack, with the last boat of this division crossing the line around 0430. Azur de Puig's time was good enough to enable the Spanish crew to win on handicap as well as real time. Azur de Puig is now leading in the overall scorings of the Rolex IMS Worlds in the Non Corinthian division, with a total of 3.5 points and a good margin over the Italian GS42R Movistar (15.75 points total) co-skippered by Lorenzo BRESSANI (ITA) and Iker MARTÍNEZ (ESP), gold medallist in the 49er in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Third overall is another GS42R, the Spanish Forum Filatelico skippered by Gonzalo ARAUJO.

In the Corinthian division, the Spanish B&C52 La Maison de l'Elephant owned by Jaime Serra VERDAGUER took line honours, having crossed the finish around 0230, followed by the Finnish J-125 Airis and by the Spanish Farr 42 Valencia Terra y Mar. Non of the above boats, however, were able to reach the top spots on handicap and it was the Italian fleet that dominated on corrected time: the First 36.7 Phantomas II of Carlo POTESTÀ took first place, followed by its sister-ship Transbunker and by the Vroljk 37 Squalo Bianco. Italy is also dominating the overall Rolex IMS Worlds scorings in the Corinthian division, with the Italian GS37B Sagola skippered by Fausto PIEROBON in the lead with a total of nine points, followed by Transbunker (ITA) at eleven points and the X362 Don Alvaro (ITA) at 13.75 points. 'We had a great time,' commented PIEROBON. 'Throughout the race we battled with Squalo Bianco, the Vroljk 37 that we think is the favourite in the Corinthian division. We crossed the line at the Ciudadella gate only one second ahead of them, after sailing for 35 miles. Then we battled our way through the rest of the course in a game of snakes and ladders with Squalo Bianco. We didn't have as much luck as them in the no-wind zones, especially in the last five miles of the course before the finish. We decided to stay close to shore, while Squalo Bianco kept more offshore and was able to gain on us thanks to a favourable wind shift. It's been a fantastic race, pretty stressful for us but very exciting. I didn't even realize that we'd been at sea for such a long time.'

The last boat to cross the finish line of the Offshore Race, just after 0600, was the Spanish Dinamique 47 Too Much owned by Corina SEIDAT.

For scoring purposes, the Offshore Race comprised a race within a race. Race two was scored as the yachts passed a gate off Ciudadella on the Western side of the island. Race three was scored on the entire 70 mile course.

The race started yesterday at 1250 with a southeasterly breeze of five to seven knots. After a two mile windward leg, the fleet paraded under spinnaker to the Isla del Aire, rounding it to starboard. Around 1830 the leading yachts reached the gate off Ciudadella, where the breeze started to die. The bulk of the fleet was able to close the gap on the three leaders, Tau Ceramica, Cam and Azur de Puig. By 2130 the wind had picked up again to seven to eight knots and Azur de Puig was sailing off Cabo Favaritx, approximately three quarters around the island, seven to eight miles ahead of the fleet. The Spanish crew was able to keep its rivals at bay until the finish line.

'We are delighted with our two victories at the Ciudadella gate and at the finish line,' commented Jose Maria TORCIDA, helmsman of Azur de Puig. 'The crew did an excellent job and we sailed a great race, defending well our position throughout the course around the island. We had a good start and rounded in the top group at the first windward mark and at the Ciudadella gate. We made good choices regarding the sails to use during the race. Our winning strategy was to sail close to the coast at the rounding of Cabo Caballerias, where we found some good breeze, while the rest of the fleet opted to stay offshore. Since then we sailed upwind in six to eight knots of breeze, trying to make the most of each wind shift. We were able to stay well ahead of the fleet and to slowly gain further ground on our rivals. This is an important victory which places us closer to the overall title, however, there is still a long way to go till the end of the championship.'

Today will be a lay-day for all the competitors and racing will resume tomorrow at 1230 with two or more windward/leeward races.

Top Ten After Three Races - Corinthian

Pos Nation Boat Helm R1 R2 R3 Pts
1 ITA Sagola Fausto PIEROBON 2 3 4 9
2 ITA Transbunker SEMENOV 4 5 2 11
3 ITA Don Alvaro Francesco SICULIANA 8 0.75 5 13.75
4 ITA Squalo Bianco Daniele AUGUSTI 6 10 3 19
5 ESP Mambo IV Martin AIZCORBE 13 2 6 21
6 URU Andalucia Ricardo FABINI 0.75 6 16 22.75
7 ITA Agitation 2 Marcello DEGASPERI 10 12 7 29
8 ITA Hublot Sei Una Diva Ferdinando BATTISTELLA 7 8 17 32
9 ESP Valencia Terra y Mar Carlos SAEZ 9 11 13 33
10 ITA Phantomas II Carlo POTESTA 12 21 0.75 33.75

Top Ten After Three Races - Non-Corinthian

Pos Nation Boat Helm R1 R2 R3 Pts
1 ESP Azur De Puig S.A.R.Infanta CRISTINA 2 0.75 0.75 3.5
2 ITA Movistar Lorenzo BRESSANI 0.75 3 12 15.75
3 ESP Forum Filatelico Gonzalo ARAUJO 3 9 4 16
4 ESP Zurich Ignacio CAMINO 7 2 9 18
5 RUS Synergy Andrew NIKOLAEV 11 6 3 20
6 RUS Yughtransit Schevtsov SERGEY 8 13 2 23
7 ESP Fermax Electronica Daniel MAESTRE 6 12 8 26
8 ITA Man Mateo IVALDI 9 10 7 26
9 ESP Telefonica Movistar Pedro CAMPOS 4 8 15 27
10 ARG Matador Alberto ROEMMERS 5 14 10 29
Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Offshore race winner, Azur de Puig:© Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex
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