Fighting to the end of each and every race and good downwind speed see Matador lead the Region of Murcia Trophy regatta into the final day, but they have only two points on Bribon.
The remarkable 'never say die' team spirit aboard Alberto ROEMMERS' Matador (ARG), complemented by some smart calls from Thierry PEPONNET
(FRA) and a healthy dose of sheer downwind speed all contributed to the key gain of four places on the final run of the last race today which means the Argentinan boat will enter the last day of the Region of Murcia Trophy Regatta with a slender two points advantage over Jose CUSI's (ESP) Bribón.
"When we get into our own bit of water and clear of the fleet a bit we know that we are very fast downwind and seem always able to get places, we have good sails and good crew work,"
said Matador's skipper Guillermo PARADA
(ARG). "Thierry is very good and this is our second event with him. We do a lot of research and prepared a good strategy before each race here and try to stick to it with a clear plan.
"In general the boats, at the fifth generation, are very closely matched. The gains to be made by new boats here are small."
Another three challenging windward-leeward races on the testing Cartagena race track in 13-19 knots of northeasterly and easterly breezes saw three different winners, Inaki CASTANER's ONO, Matador and Bribón, all 2006 or 2007 build boats. Once again it proved an arena which favoured those prepared to stick to their convictions, with wind shifts variously benefiting both sides of the course area. A big shift during the first race of the day, with the breeze moving 35-40 degrees to the right, proved terminal to the hopes to those who were caught on the wrong side of it.
CASTANER's ONO, formerly the 2006 champion Mean Machine, took a penalty turn seconds after the start but still came up the left side of the race track to round the windward mark on the stern of the Russian boat Synergy. Pressure told on Synergy as they lead through the leeward gate and dropped their spinnaker on the turning mark, leaving ONO to win their first Audi MedCup Circuit race this season.
Matador won the second race, making gains on each leg after rounding the first windward mark in sixth place. In the final minutes of the race they used their speed to get the best of an exciting three-way battle with Riccardo SIMONESCHI's (ITA) Audi Q8 and Mutua Madrilena. Audi Q8 gybed, separating away and finished third.
Platoon lead around the first windward mark on the third race but Bribón got through them on the first run and stayed ahead to win their second race at this regatta, keeping the Spanish team hard on the heels of Matador. Bribón are involved in a protest against Synergy.
Audi MedCup Circuit leaders Quantum Racing lie third at the this event, but already this week have increased their overall Circuit lead to a comfortable 41.2 points. Unfortunately one of their main rivals Artemis (SWE) suffered a problem with their mainsail and dropped to a weighty 10th in the second race on Friday, and the 2007 MedCup champions are now 7.3 points behind second placed Bribon on the Circuit standings.
(USA), skipper-helmsman of Quantum Racing, commented, "Its disappointing. The last race is particularly painful because the guys are working their tails off and everyone is putting in 101%. We haven't sailed this boat in these conditions a lot, I think I have to look at our technique, re-evaluate our sails and setup looking at Matador and Artemis very fast downwind. We have to evaluate all we are doing and continuing our game rate on an upwards curve. It's a test of our will, we've had some knocks in the past and we bounced back, so we have to take some knocks now we will get up swinging!"
At the busy first windward mark of the third race Mutua Madrilena hit Tau Ceramica Andalucia causing damage to the port aft quarter of Tau which withdrew immediately from the race. Mutua Madrilena retired after finishing the race.
Results - click here
Audi MedCup - http://2008.medcup.org