Where in Punta Ala, Italy, the opening regatta in the Breitling MEDCUP Circuit, seven TP52 boats participated in the event (Atalanti XV, Bambakou, Bribon, Caixa Galicia, Leche Pascual, Lexus, Orlanda-Olympus) and in the Trofeo SM La Reina in Valencia there were nine boats (Aifos, Cristabella made their debuts), now Siemens TP52, owned by Pedro PERELLÓ (ESP), will try to make up for the vessels' late introduction into the fleet aiming straight for the leader positions.
After the impressive victory, a few weeks ago in Valencia, of team Leche Pascual, lead by their Italian America's Cup skipper, Vasco VASCOTTO (with help from his fellow crew members from the Mascalzone Latino team) and the success of Bribon, (skippered by HM King Juan Carlos of Spain) in the Corinthian Class, the competition is becoming more tough, as the fine tuning of the vessels prior to the regatta, as well as the strength of the teams are increasing greatly.
The second boat in the general rankings, Jaime YLLERA's (ESP) Lexus, is one of the vessels to come to Puerto Portals with a new lineup in terms of crew. Their usual skipper, three times America's Cup winner, Russell COUTTS (NZL), as well as Peter ISLER (USA), and the match race expert Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN), will leave their responsibilities to the likes of Dean BARKER (NZL).
BARKER, who is also skipper for Emirates Team New Zealand, is considered to be somewhat of a protégée of COUTTS', since the America's Cup champion handed him the helm during the 2000 edition of the America's Cup, the same year that the New Zealand team successfully defended the 100 Guineas Cup. Three years later, the young skipper lost an America's Cup to his mentor in a bitter defeat.
BARKER will be sailing with many of his teammates from Emirates Team New Zealand, who have come from Auckland especially for the 11th Breitling regatta, and will take over from COUTTS in this regatta.
Caixa Galicia, skippered by Roberto BERMÚDEZ DE CASTRO (ESP), is now third in the rankings and is only three points from YLLERA's Lexus, was training in the crystal waters of Mallorca today. The team now has American John KOSTECKI (Olympic medallist, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, ten times world champion as well as leading the American team in the America's Cup) in the crew. KOSTECKI will take over the role of tactician for this regatta, due to the absence of Dee SMITH (USA) who has other obligations and who will join the team again for the next event.
Atalanti XV, the Greek vessel owned by ISAF Vice-President George ANDREADIS (GRE), come to the event with their fantastic crew lead by seven times world champion and round the world winner, Paul CAYARD (USA), and their vessel completely repaired after the incident that caused them to abandon the last race in the Valencia event.
Bribon, Skippered by HM King Juan Carlos of Spain, have a tough fight ahead of them to retain their title in the Corinthian Class, as John COUMANTAROS' (USA) Bambakou are only eight points behind them.
Orlanda-Olympus, skippered by America's Cup sailor Tomasso CHIEFFI (ITA), comes to Puerto Portals with a seventh place in the general rankings, with Cristabella and Aifos quite a way behind them. Aifos continue in the circuit after their debut in the Breitling MEDCUP TP52 in the Trofeo SM La Reina, which was held in Valencia.
Alongside these nine magnificent vessels, a new edition to the fleet, the TP52 Siemens, shows the capacity for growth of the class. Siemens come to the waters of Puerto Portals from America, and arrived in Spain just days after the second event in Valencia. This is the twin vessel to the other American boat, Bambakou, and was designed by Farr and launched in 2004. Jim ALLSOP, a round the world yachtsman, joins the competition which boasts a fantastic list of accomplished international sailors.