Defending champion Torbjorn TORNQVIST's Artemis started this year's edition of the TP52 World Championship on a strong footing with a first and two seconds in shifty, tricky and quite light conditions.
The opening day of the event was clearly marked by a breeze that swung left and right, sometimes by more than 60 degrees, following the movements of the clouds that covered the skies over Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. The breeze ranged from 6 to 12 knots but direction was a real gamble and the tough race track off Puerto Calero saw three different winners today.
(SWE), owner and helmsman of the 2007 World Champion Artemis, ably assisted by Russell COUTTS
(NZL) on tactics, seized the championship by the scruff of the neck to take an early lead. "We had good boat speed, we got the wind correctly and in general Russell made excellent tactical calls but, of course, Quantum is a very dangerous opponent and we have to take the event race by race; it's too early to make any prediction. We have a good boat and fine crew work and as a result there is no reason we shouldn't be optimistic. Still, it's going to be a very tough fight,"
The first race of the day turned into a match-race between Artemis and Quantum, with the current World Champion crossing the finish line ahead of the Americans. Both boats together with Mutua Madrileña lead the race from the start by correctly opting for the left side of the course. In fact Vasco VASCOTTO
's (ITA) yacht was behind Artemis during the first half of the race but had to relinquish its spot to Terry HUTCHINSON
(USA). The turning point came in the second beat when COUTTS on Artemis and Morgan LARSON
(USA) on Quantum called again tactics right on the spot and built a considerable lead over the rest of the fleet, reaching 200 meters at times. In the race's final leg Artemis kept on the left while Quantum tried to get better breeze in the centre but to no avail. TORNQVIST helmed the Swedish boat to victory.
The story in the second race changed radically as the breeze shifted to the right by more than 30 degrees. Desafío, TAU Andalucia and Bigamist were over the line early, while Mutua Madrileña, Synergy, Artemis and Quantum had a clean start. Flavio FAVINI
(ITA) at the helm of Mutua Madrileña got the control of the race despite the attacks from both Artemis and Synergy, even rounding the leeward gate 45 seconds ahead of Artemis. The three leading positions didn't change for the rest of the race, resulting in a second for Artemis and an excellent third for Russian Synergy, with Kiwi sailor Cameron DUNN
With the breeze dropping to 6 knots and another shift, this time back to the left, the race committee fired the starting gun for the third time. As in the first race, the left paid handsomely and Cristabella with Quantum got off ahead of the fleet. The Anglo-American pair could have held on to the top two spots till the end of the race but disaster stroke Cristabella when their spinnaker touched the pin end buoy in the very last stretch of the race. The British boat had to avoid a large spectator fleet in order to carry out their 360-degree turn and as a result dropped back to the bottom. Quantum was first, with Artemis second after a great recovery in the last leg while Dean BARKER
(NZL) helmed Bribón in third place, their best finish of what was a tough day for the Spanish King's boat.
Results - click here