TP 52 Update Audi MedCup, Cagliari

Tuesday is the first day of racing here in Cagliari, the third stop on the MedCup circuit for the Transpac 52 Class.

The forecast is for a sea breeze (160-170 degrees) of about 12-15 knots.

There are just 14 boats competing here which is quite a drop from a year ago when we had 23 boats at these events.

We had a practice race on Monday and Bribon was leading before they dropped out. Platoon of Germany went on to win, with Quantum Racing second. We finished fifth.

After two 8th places in this circuit so far, we on Desafio are looking to step it up here. The boat still seems fast to me so we will have to sail well.

One thing I have noticed so far in the three days we have been here is that the sea is extremely flat and the wind is very steady. When you have conditions like this, the fleet usually gets to the windward mark all at the same time. Inches and feet will make the difference between 1st and 7th at the first mark.

The regatta ends on Saturday, July 5th and I will keep you updated each day. There are nine inshore races scheduled as they missed one race in Marseille earlier this month. Thursday will be the offshore race, which has two scoring positions; one at the half way point and one at the finish.

Newport Bermuda Race

On Friday evening, 198 boats headed out of Newport following the start of the 42nd edition of the Bermuda Race.

Paul Cayard is onboard Jim Swartz’s brand new STP65 Moneypenny as watch captain for this demanding 635 mile race. The competition will be intense in the St David’s Lighthouse Division with the likes of Puma’s VO70 Il Mostro and Alex Jackson’s Speedboat competing. However, the weather is expected to be light for the first few days as the fleet makes its way towards the Gulf Stream.

This is only Cayard’s second time competing in the Newport-Bermuda Race. “The only time I ever went in this race was in 1982. I was here (Newport) getting ready for the America’s Cup,” Cayard recalled. “So I was stuck up in a loft going through a bunch of old Courageous sails when someone asked if I wanted to go on the Bermuda Race. “I said, ‘Yeah, get me out of jail here,’ and we took off. That year it blew so hard we broke our rudder and never finished.”

Stay tuned for an update from Cayard and click here to track STP 65 Moneypenny.

http://www.charthorizon.com/races/2008_newport_bermuda/htdocs/boat_report.php?boat=Moneypenny

Change of tack…

My last article seems to have created quite a stir, even prompting an online poll showing a big split in opinion over the nationality requirement for the pending America’s Cup match between BMW Oracle and Alinghi. There was even at least one email lobbying people in how to vote! As I struggled to find something to write about this month I thought I would at least include some photos that I am pretty sure will get unanimous approval. Doesn’t matter if you are Swiss or American, you will like the graphics of my new boat. However, I can’t take credit for all of it, just the bikini top, as the original artwork came with the boat.

With the America’s Cup in a constant state of waiting for court orders and speculation about when it will happen, where it will happen and so on, like many others I am growing tired of that subject. But there is plenty of other great racing going on around the world right now.

The Farr 40 Worlds was a fantastic event with 33 boats from 10 countries. The TP52 season has just kicked off and I am racing with the new boat El Desafío Español, built in the team’s AC shed in Valencia with their crew and shore team doing the construction… I am very impressed with what they did in four months! And the RC 44 fleet is growing and becoming impressive as well. So there is a lot of good sailing going on but instead of talking about that this month, I ended up writing an introspective piece that I hope hits a note with someone.

The other night I was lying in bed in a Spanish hotel room, jetlagged and awake at 0400, and I started thinking about what I am doing (don’t do this, it is definitely a bad idea). I started thinking about the fact that I will be 50 next year, that I have been doing this pro sailing thing since 1983. I started wondering if I should be doing something else. As I was thinking to myself, ‘I have spent the last five years doing…’ I focused on the word ‘spent’. We often use this phrase in lieu of ‘I passed’: ‘I passed the weekend doing such and such’.

As I focused on the words ‘spent’ and ‘spend’, it really hit me. Someone got it right when they coined the phrase… you are spending your time and your life. Years are like cards and you only have so many of them. Figure you have 90 ‘year cards’ if you are lucky. As I am almost 50, I have 40 more to spend… if I am lucky. Then that’s it, you can’t ask for more, you can?t buy more, you simply run out.

All this thinking made me very happy with my decision to buy a boat and race with my kids to Hawaii this summer. I am going to spend a few months of time for a lifetime of memories and for enhancing the most important relationships of my life. In fact, I will lose some income during this period, missing two TP52 regattas with Desafío. Further, the project will cost me a few hundred thousand dollars.

I usually spend my time trying to make money. Now I am spending my time on something much more important and valuable to me: my kids. At the end of the road, when I am 90 and about to check out, what will be stuck in my mind? My trip to Hawaii with my kids, or one more race with a bunch of pros. And what will be stuck in my kids’ minds? A little more inheritance or the race to Hawaii with their father? That is how I want to spend my cards.

So the Hula Girl project for the 2008 Pacific Cup is now well underway. I have a few friends helping me make some improvements to the Santa Cruz 50, which was designed by Bill Lee and built in 1980. At 28 years, she is a little old for a boat, but she is still very cool. And as is the trend in today?s world, she has had some work done to perk her up…

Compared to how she was born, she has a 2ft deeper T-keel, 2ft more of pole, a carbon mast and boom and a 2ft hull extension. And we are putting her on a diet right now: stove off, refrigeration off, Spectra watermaker on, freeze-dried on, wood table off, laminate table on, quarter berths out, pipe berths in. And now she has gennakers rather than spinnakers.

My crew (18-22 years old) all sail 49ers and the like. They know what it is like to get up and plane and sheet on when the apparent wind goes forward. When they catch a wave, they are not going to want to bear away to keep the kite from collapsing, so we are putting on a Harken pedestal as top-handling the winches would get old and could be hard on us ‘senior’ guys.

We had our first crew practice at the end of April. We checked all the sails and gear that came with the boat. We reefed, peeled the kite, we hit 14kt in the bay reaching across the top of Alcatraz in 20kt of wind. In the evening I had all the kids over for a barbecue and we opened the liferaft in my pool. They got in it, checked out what gear is there, flipped it over and righted it. We will be training again soon with some night sailing, then again in July when we will sail the first 200 miles of the course and back to get a feel for the sails to be used, the watch system, cooking the freeze-dried, running the watermaker, and so on…

Then on 18 July we will slip out of the Golden Gate with an ebb tide and head to some islands 2,070 miles to the southwest. We understand that when we get there the natives may have some refreshments for us… pronounced MaiTai.

Preparation continues for the Pacific Cup

May 31st and June 1st was our second practice weekend in preparation for the Pacific Cup. I feel as though most of us are becoming much more comfortable around each other. We are also all beginning to see what needs to be done when, and who is best at doing it.

The bowmen are Morgan and Robbie, while skippering has been a mix of me with light wind, my brother and my Dad in the heavier winds. Cameron does a lot of jib trimming and I did my fair share of main trimming. Mark Towill and Ralfie Steitz were not able to come out that weekend, so we had Eric Arndt and Jeff Thorpe in their places.

One of our main goals

Personal thoughts and opinions from the frontline of the Audi MedCup Circuit.

Paul Cayard, Helmsman of el Desafio.

The impetus for the Desafio TP52 project was to keep the sports team from the Spanish America’s Cup challenge together and active whilst awaiting the outcome of the Cup.
When we realised there would be quite a delay before a multi- challenge America’s Cup the decision was made to build a TP52, and that was our first challenge; to build the boat in four months! They have done a great job at the base in Valencia using the shore team and the crew.

Assembling the team was quite easy for us. We have 25 crew members part of Desafio Español sailing on two different circuits; the TP52 and GP42s that are both highly competitive. So we were ready to roll!

The TP52 Audi Medcup circuit is the most competitive professional circuit in sailing.
I first sailed this circuit in its first year in 2005, and last year I raced with Matador (then Siemens) in Copa del Rey and then with Windquest in Portimao. So I have sailed a fair amount in the class.

The trick with these boats, apart from the hull shape and the design of course (we have a Vrolijk design, and it is a very nice, fast boat) is to get the rig to work well with the sails through the range of conditions.
You are allowed to adjust the rake of the mast as you sail through the races, so you need to set up the rigging in such a way that you can adjust the rake of the mast automatically to de-power itself as the wind increases, and if it were to decrease, you could rake back and power the boat up.

Getting the settings of the mast just right to match your main sail is one of the keys to speed in this class. And I’m happy because we are going pretty fast and even if we have made some mistakes during the first regatta. But it looks like after five short months we have a boat that is fast and the rig is pretty sorted out. It is a good platform to start the year.

In a new project the key things to decide are who is going to design the boat, where it is going to be built, the mast manufacturer and sail manufacturer to use. The longest lead time was to build the rig and get it delivered here, and unfortunately we couldn’t get a new mast in such a short time. So we are using a fairly old mast – a spare from Audi Q8, a 2006 mast that was broken and we repaired.

Once again we went to in-house sail designer and maker for Desafio Español, Sandro Benigni. The boat is a Vrolijk design as we are able to get a female mould from Bribón and Matador; which was also essential to making our deadline.

I really feel we have the tools to win this regatta. We have only been sailing a short time but after making the key decision just five short months ago to compete, we have a boat in the water, it is well-built and it seems like we have the speed to win. We haven’t sailed perfectly but I think it is an area we can improve on.

I think it is early days to say who our main competition is. Bribón was leading at the beginning and won this one last year, but it really is quite soon to speculate too much.

There are probably ten teams that could win this series at the end of the year. You have to keep grinding away at it. There are sixty races, and none can be discarded. There are a lot of points to be had and a lot to be saved.

More than revolutionising a way of sailing the boat, it is about chipping away, perfecting, and gaining one percent here and there. It’s going to be a slow, steady grind to the top for whoever wins the Audi MedCup Circuit.

I think that one of our strengths is that we have a very good boat, and a tight, unified team. El Desafio had a great success last year in the Semi-Finals of the America’s Cup and that bonded the team hugely; the nucleus is already in place as almost all the team on board comes from that background, and there is a lot of solidarity.

I think that some of the teams have maybe a bit more experience in some areas of the boats but all in all I think we can definitely win the Audi TP52 Medcup.