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16 July 2005, 11:21 pm
Spanish Entry Azur De Puig Leads The Non Corinthian Division
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Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship 2005
Mahòn, Minorca

With two third places in today's races, the Spanish JV57 Azur de Puig owned by Marta MAS BORRELL and helmed by Jose Maria Torcida, with America's Cup veteran Dee SMITH calling the tactics, is leading the Non Corinthian division in the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship with one day of racing to go and a maximum of two races.

Azur de Puig's lead is 23.25 points over second placed Movistar (with total 32.75 points), the Italian GS42R co-skippered by Lorenzo BRESSANI AND Iker MARTÍNEZ, gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, with Italian America's Cup veteran Tommaso Chieffi also in the afterguard. Third stands Zurich, the Spanish GS42R skippered by Ignacio CAMINO, although at this time Zurich is in a protest hearing with Quebremar Chrysler due to a collision in the second race of the day.

The Uruguayan GS42R Andalucia owned by Santiago MESA, with two second places in today's races, leads the Corinthian division, but by only a 2 point margin over the Italian X362 Don Alvaro owned and skippered by Francesco SICULIANA. Third is the Italian Vroljk 37 Sagola owned and skippered by Fausto PIEROBON.

Two races were completed today. Cam (ESP) owned by Olympic medal winners Fernando LEÓN (gold, Tornado class, 1996) and Kiko SÁNCHEZ LUNA (gold, 470 class, 1992) won the first race in the Non Corinthian division, and Puerto Calero-Hesperia (ESP) skippered by Alfredo MORALES won in the Corinthian division.

Race two saw the victory of the Spanish JV57 Tau Ceramica with Olympic gold medalist Theresa ZABELL at the helm in the Non Corinthian division, and once again Puerto Calero-Hesperia once again in the Corinthian division.

Today both the competitors and the Race Committee had to tackle quite challenging conditions - a very light and shifty breeze from the Southeast and an extremely uncomfortable, irregular choppy sea. The first race started on time at 11am with a breeze of 6-7 knots, the Committee having decided last night to bring forward the start by an hour and a half. With the wind shifting over the course and getting lighter, and with such short and irregular waves, helmsman, tacticians and navigators had quite a handful. For the Race Committee it meant having to reposition the marks a couple of times throughout the race. The bigger boats were able to quickly gain over the bulk of the fleet, with the Spanish entries Cam (Farr 54), Tau Ceramica (JV57) and Azur de Puig (B&C49) leading from the start throughout the race. Cam crossed the finish line less than one minute ahead of Tau Ceramica, with Azur de Puig following after a 5-minute gap. The above three boats kept the exact same order in the handicap scorings (Non Corinthian division) once the IMS time corrections were applied.

As soon as she stepped off her boat, Teresa ZABELL, at the helm of Tau Ceramica, commented: 'So far we haven't been very lucky with the conditions. Apart from the first part of the long race, there has always been more wind at the end than at the start of the races, therefore the smaller boats were always catching up on us. Today, finally, things have changed. In both races we had really good starts and we rounded first the top mark. In the first race, the wind shifted during the second beat and Cam overtook us and won the race. In the second race we maintained our lead and we were able to gain some time out.'

In the Corinthian division, as expected, the larger yachts were able to sail away in these light conditions with sufficient apparent wind, moving smoothly over the short waves. Puerto Calero-Hesperia was able to win both on real and corrected time, while second on the line was the Spanish B&C52 La Maison de l'Elephant who ended fourth on handicap. The Uruguayan GS42R Andalucia was third over the line and was able to gain one place in the handicap scorings. The Italian Vroljk 37 Squalo Bianco, who yesterday was fourth in the overall provisional scorings, scored an OCS (premature start), sliding down in the overall scorings.

The Race Committee had to work even harder to get the second race started, with the conditions worsening as the wind got lighter shifting all over the course area. At 1.50pm the officials began moving the starting area 1 mile offshore, in search of more wind. On the first attempt to get the boats away, the Committee had to hoist the Answering Pennant at the last moment in order to reposition the start line. At the next attempt, most of the fleet opted for the Committee end but was over the line early, forcing a general recall. The line was repositioned once again and the Committee fired a new start, but the fleet got yet again into trouble by being over early. Racing finally got underway at 3.30pm after the second general recall, with only an individual recall. Halfway through the race, the Committee had to deal once again with a big wind shift to the right and had to reposition the windward mark. Maximum concentration, good tactics and control over the direct rivals were of paramount importance at this stage, when losing a shift could mean sliding to the bottom of the fleet. In the Non Corinthian division, it was once again the Spanish threesome Tau Ceramica, Cam and Azur de Puig who led the fleet throughout the race, with the exact same finish order in both real and corrected time. The same three boats in the first race in the Corinthian division, yet again posted identical results in race two: Puerto Calero-Hesperia took line honors and was able to maintain its position on corrected time, second on the line in real time was La Maison de l'Elephant, followed by the Finnish J125 Airis. Second on handicap came Andalucia followed by Sei Una Diva.

Alfredo MORALES, helmsman of Puerto Calero-Hesperia, commented: 'Today both races were really good for us. We had two nice starts, rounded the marks in good position and were lucky at the end, because the wind went to die, which gave us some advantage against the small boats. The first day we were third, which is a good result, but our stain was the long race, when we retired after hitting some rocks. Tomorrow we will do our best in order to advance in the scorings. Today we made progress from 14th to 6th, and now we are going to study the results to know if we have any option or, at least, try to win and have a nice good bye.'

Tonight, competitors, owners, guests, race officials and sponsor representatives will all gather for the Rolex Dinner Party at the Fortaleza de Isabel II, La Mola, the imposing fortress built in the XIX century to defend the port of Mahón.

The Rolex IMS World Championship ends tomorrow with a maximum of two races, the first being scheduled for 11.30am, and the Rolex Prizegiving Ceremony at the Club Club Marítimo de Mahón, where the winner of each division - Corinthian and Non Corinthian - will be awarded with the title of World Champion, the Offshore World Cup and a coveted Rolex time piece. Prizes will be awarded also to the top three places of the series in each category.

Provisional overall results after 5 races - handicap

Corinthian
1. Andalucia, URU, Santiago Mesa, 26.75 (0.75, 6.00, 16.00, 2.00, 2.00)
2. Don Alvaro, ITA, Francesco Siculiana, 28.75 (8.00, 0.75, 5.00, 10.00, 5.00)
3. Sagola, ITA, Porto Turistico di Jesolo, 31.00 (2.00, 3.00, 4.00, 15.00, 7.00)
4. Transbunker, ITA, Transbunkergroup Ltd, 33.00 (4.00, 5.00, 2.00, 9.00, 13.00)
5. Sei Una Diva, ITA, Ferdinando Battistella, 38.00 (7.00, 8.00, 17.00, 3.00, 3.00)

Non Corinthian
1. Azur de Puig, ESP, Marta Mas Borrell, 9.50 (2.00, 0.75, 0.75, 3.00, 3.00)
2. Movistar, ITA, Lorenzo Bressani, 32.75 (0.75, 3.00, 12.00, 11.00, 6.00)
3. Zurich, ESP, Santana Race Group SL, 35.00 (7.00, 2.00, 9.00, 6.00, 11.00)
4. Forum Filatelico, ESP, Forum Filatelico, 35.00 (3.00, 9.00, 4.00, 10.00, 9.00)
5. Tau Ceramica, ESP, Javier Dominguez, 36.75 (12.00, 4.00, 18.00, 2.00, 0.75)

Provisional results race 4 - handicap

Corinthian (Pos., Yacht Name, Country, Owner, Points)
1. Puerto Calero-Hesperia, ESP, Puerto Calero SA, 0.75
2. Andalucia, URU, Santiago Mesa, 2.00
3. Sei Una Diva, ITA, Ferdinando Battistella, 3.00
4. La Maison de l'Elephant, ESP, Jaime Serra Verdaguer, 4.00
5. Valencia Terra y Mar, ESP, Carlos Saez, 5.00

Non Corinthian
1. Cam, ESP, Caja Ahorros del Mediterraneo, 0.75
2. Tau Ceramica, ESP, Javier Dominguez, 2.00
3. Azur de Puig, ESP, Marta Mas Borrell, 3.00
4. Matador, ARG, Alberto Roemmers, 4.00
5. Sky, ITA, Stefano Martini, 5.00

Provisional results race 5 - handicap

Corinthian

1. Puerto Calero-Hesperia, ESP, Puerto Calero SA, 0.75 2. Andalucia, URU, Santiago Mesa, 2.00 3. Sei Una Diva, ITA, Ferdinando Battistella, 3.00 4. Airis, FIN, Venti Sailing Team, 4.00 5. Don Alvaro, ITA, Francesco Siculiana, 5.00 Non Corinthian 1. Tau Ceramica, ESP, Javier Dominguez, 0.75
2. Cam, ESP, Caja Ahorros del Mediterraneo, 2.00
3. Azur de Puig, ESP, Marta Mas Borrell, 3.00
4. Telefonica Movistar, ESP, Pedro Campos, 4.00
5. Matador, ARG, Alberto Roemmers, 5.00

Forty two yachts are competing in the event, with crews representing Argentina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay.

Regatta News (www.regattanews.com). Image: Azur de Puig © Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex
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