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24 September 2005, 09:44 am
Luck of the Irish! - Patches Wins The Coastal Race
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Breitling Medcup 2005
Porto Rotondo, Sardinia

Pisco hold onto the lead despite the win by Patches and the light conditions that dominated in Sardinia today which made for an agonisingly slow 24 miles of Coastal race for the Breitling MEDCUP TP52 fleet.
With victory today for the Irish newcomers Patches with Olympic medallist Ben AINSLIE at the helm, and a seventh place for experienced team Lexus, with America's Cup star Russell COUTTS, it is clear that this is proving a tough Circuit for the fleet. Consistency is key, as demonstrated by Pisco Sour with Italy's great Vasco VASCOTTO as Skipper who are still at the top of the Breitling MEDCUP TP52 Circuit leaderboard.

Yet again, there were nerves in the air, as the fleet took the start with light conditions and only a few points separating the top teams. It was a complicated start, as Aifos performed a premature start and Lexus seemed willing to sacrifice time in favour of a move to the opposite side of the racecourse to the rest of the fleet.

At the first windward mark the fleet were fairly dispersed around the course. The Irish vessel Patches with Ben AINSLIE were first to the buoy, followed by the Italian team Orlanda-Olympus, and the US Sjambok with Gavin BRADY and Dee SMITH onboard. Behind them a compact group were tacking, including Caixa Galicia with John KOSTECKI as tactian, Spain's Balearia and Pisco Sour with Vasco VASCOTTO. Lexus with COUTTS, REYNOLDS and ISLER onboard were behind the rest of the fleet at this point.

Despite using the powerful code zero sails, the next leg was an uphill struggle for the TP52 fleet, as the wind fell a poor six knots at the windward mark to even lower speeds as they headed towards the exclusive area of Cala di Volpe. Ben AINSLIE'S Patches extended their lead putting themselves a minute ahead of the rest of the fleet. Orlanda-Olympus were in second place followed by Sjambok whilst both Lexus and Pisco Sour gained a position compared with the previous buoy.

At the halfway point in the Coastal race before hoisting the gennakers to head homeward, Patches were still holding a strong lead, followed by Orlanda Olympus, Caixa Galicia and Pisco Sour who overtook Sjambok who were behind an expertly sailed Bribon. Lexus were back in seventh place again, followed by Aifos who were suffering the consequences of the false start, and Spanish vessel Balearia who seemed lost on the racecourse, quite a distance away from the rest of the TP52 fleet.

The wind dropped to almost three knots, forcing the fleet to endure agonisingly slow speeds fairly uncommon to these fast and furious vessels. The return to port was a spectacular scene with the fleet sailing against the backdrop of the beautiful rocky Sardinian coast. Irish eyes were smiling as Patches came in with a new victory to add to their TP52 racing experience, and a fantastic one minute advantage over Orlanda-Olympus, owned by Lorenzo BRESSANI in second place. Caixa Galicia was third followed by a very fast Bribon with HM King Juan Carlos of Spain at the helm, who were ahead of Pisco Sour in the last leg. In fifth place were Americans Sjambok, followed fairly far behind by Lexus, Aifos and a lost Balearia.

Miriam Torres (As Amended By ISAF), Image: © Jorge Andreu/MEDCUP
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