Emirates Team New Zealand's return to Cartagena proved something of a repeat performance as the 2009 Audi MedCup champions retained the overall Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy for the second year in a row on the same waters where they clinched the overall TP52 Series championships title last year.
The Kiwis seemed to have sailed an almost blemish free regatta, consistent across the broad wind range through the event, emerging triumphant at the dockside with a comfortable cushion on second placed Matador, but the jury subsequently disqualified them from the second race of the day for infringing Quantum Racing at the first windward mark.
The protest outcome cut the Kiwi winning margin to 10 points over Matador (ARG) but the reigning Audi MedCup title holders head to next month's season's finale in Sardinia with a lead of 46.5 points, just ahead of the target that the Dean Barker
(NZL) skippered crew had considered their realistic target.
After winning in Cascais, Portugal in May this is the New Zealanders second regatta triumph of the season with skipper Dean Barker - who skippered Bribon to win in 2008 - unbeaten in the class at this venue.
The protest decision may have smudged their copybook but on the water the Kiwis maintained their regular scores through the regatta. TeamOrigin (GBR) seemed to have the measure of them at times in the light to moderate wind conditions and flat water, but the British crew were recalled for starting too early in the final race of the day, finishing ninth.
Added to their 11th in Saturday's coastal race that left TeamOrigin, who lead early in the event, third overall.
(GBR) and team will take some satisfaction not only from their first podium finish of the season and also the positive progress they are making on the season's leaderboard, but they may look back and wonder what else - other than those two ' majors' that they could have done to make good the tantalising 1.5 points deficit they fell short of second placed Matador.
On the overall standings Quantum Racing (USA) lie second on 179.5pts, but third placed Matador and TeamOrigin are separated by just one point, on 199pts and 200pts.
Racing in 9-13 knots of easterly breeze and blissful Mediterranean sunshine Alberto Roemmers' world champions Matador won the first race of the day when Vasco Vascotto
(ITA) and Francesco Bruni
(ITA) combined to read the first run well, gaining five places on the downwind to take the race win ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand who had lead at the first windward mark.
TeamOrigin were in contention at the first windward mark but slid to 11th on the first run, recovering to seventh.
In the second race TeamOrigin started sharply to win the preferred left side of the first upwind leg, rounding the windward mark first and going on to their third winning gun of the regatta.
Emirates Team New Zealand finished with a flourish winning the final race with Matador back in seventh, TeamOrigin in ninth and the Franco-German team on Audi A1 powered by TeamAll4ONE leaving Murcia with a measure of renewed confidence from their second place.
Despite the obvious increase in the overall standard at the top of the TP52 Series, the defending title holders will travel to Cagliari for September's Region of Sardinia Trophy with a margin only 5.5 points less than they did at the same point in 2009.
Quotes of the day
Dean Barker (NZL), skipper Emirates New Zealand (NZL):
"We sailed much better here than we did in Barcelona. We didn't have any bad races. I think we sailed better in Barcelona than we had done earlier in the year, and today it was really a good day."
"There was still three races to go, so anything could have happened and we managed to sail a very good consistent day.
Cartagena has been good for me, I've been here three times now and had three victories, the first one with Bribón. It's a difficult venue, I don't think you ever really quite understand it, there's big currents, a lot happening out there, so you have to take it one day at a time, and see what you figure out."
Ben Ainslie (GRB), skipper TeamOrigin (GBR):
"We had really great moments and some bad moments. It's been a tough event for us again, we had some really great races, and we had a really bad offshore race when our forestay broke, we weren't having a great race anyway but that last place has certainly hurt us a lot, but probably a better result for us overall and hopefully we can keep improving into the final regatta of the series. We struggled at the beginning of the season, we are learning about the fleet, the boat, and have been improving a lot which is nice. It'd be nice for the final event if we could try and take it a step further. Cartagena is really good, it's been tricky cause there's quite a bit of current out there so it's made it more interesting racing I think more than a normal Mediterranean regatta".
Vasco Vascotto (ITA), strategist Matador (ARG):
"We are happy cause we've fine tuned some details in the way we sail, but the truth is that ETNZ are a step beyond us all. Sometimes we tend to forget that and try to fight them but they are far better than us, and we have to learn from them to improve ourselves. We are like little children, but talented. We have many great moments, and many not that good. I hope we can improve and keep consistent".
Caja Mediterráneo Region of Murcia Trophy
TP52 Series - Final after 10 races
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 4+2+5+4+3+1+1,5+2+12(DSQ)+1= 35,5 points
2. Matador (ARG), 1+4+1+5+8+5+6+1+7+7= 45
3. TeamOrigin (GBR), 3+1+3+2+1+3+16,5+7+1+9= 46,5
4. Quantum Racing (USA), 9+5+6+3+7+2+7,5+6+5+3= 53,5
5. Artemis (SWE), 5+6+2+10+4+6+3+9+9+10= 64
6. Synergy (RUS), 8+3+7+11+6+7+10,5+10+2+4= 68,5
7. Luna Rossa (ITA), 2+7+9+6+2+9+15+3+8+8= 69
8. Bribón (ESP), 7+11+4+1+10+4+12+11+4+6= 70
9. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 6+8+11+8+9+10+9+5+10+2= 79
10. Bigamist 7 (POR), 11+9+8+9+11+11+4,5+4+6+5= 78,5
11. Cristabella (GBR), 10+10+10+7+5+8+13,5+8+3+11= 85,5
Audi MedCup Circuit 2010 - Provisional Leaderboard
TP52 Series - After four events of five
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 31,5+31+35+35,5= 133 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA), 59,5+22,5+44+53,5= 179,5
3. Matador (ARG), 60+27+67+45= 199
4. TeamOrigin (GBR), 59,5+31+63+46,5= 200
5. Artemis (SWE), 57+53+33+64= 207
6. Synergy (RUS), 64+35,5+73+68,5= 241
7. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 51,5+29,5+84+78= 243
8. Bribón (ESP), 88+41+58+70= 251,5
9. Cristabella (GBR), 65+43,5+62+85,5= 256
10. Luna Rossa (ITA), 77,5+44,5+73+69= 264
11. Bigamist 7 (POR), 88+78+70+78,5= 314,5
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