Two races were held today in 12-16 knots of wind, similar in direction to yesterday, South Southeast see breeze. There is still no gradient as a large high pressure system is sitting over this part of the Mediterranean.

Mean Machine and Quantum Racing continue to be setting the pace and really it is starting to look like they have a speed advantage on the rest of the group. Quantum started to the right and went right soon after the start in each race. The right was favored and they were first to every mark today. But Mean Machine started on the left side and despite the right being favored, they got around everyone but Quantum by the time the starboard layline came up.

We had to good day that started with two good starts. In the first race, with 12 knots at the start and very smooth seas, we managed to get a very good start about four boats down from the committee boat and we tacked onto port fairly soon. It was a foot race to the right and Quantum got there just ahead of us. We rounded the first mark third and stayed there despite some challenges from Artemis, Bribon and the Russians.

In the second race, which started with 16 knots of wind, we had a good start in the middle of the line. We were able to tack onto port quickly and the foot race began. Quantum was much quicker in this breeze and even Bribon had a bit of pace on us. We just could not quite cross Artemis and that forced us to tack short of the layline and we bagan to lose the boats that were to our right.

We rounded the first mark about 9th or 10th. This race was a five leg race, three windward legs, two downwind legs, with the finish to windward. We managed to work our way up to 6th which was a nice comeback.

So we are currently in 7th, but just 4 points out of 3rd. Things are very tight in the regatta except for Quantum and Mean Machine who have gotten a jump on the fleet.

Tomorrow is the coastal race which looks like two windward leeward courses in two bays along this coast. So we will start, go to windward, run downwind to a mark then reach for five miles over to a point of land and into another bay, where we will do another windward leeward and then reach back to the bottom of the first course and then into the harbor for a finish off the end of the breakwater. Not quite sure what this adds to our racing, but it is in the bylaws of the Class so we have to have one.

For complete results go to

Three races were held today in perfect conditions. Sunny skies, 10-18 knots of wind and smooth seas. For El Desafio it was a mediocre to poor day, with a 6,7 and 11th. In the last race we were over the start line early, and well trapped, so it took us over a minute to restart. We did manage to beat a couple of boats but still not a good result.

Mean Machine sailed the best scoring a 1, 4 and 1. Nothing special, just good clean starts and good speed. Quantum racing was strong as well with a 3,1 and 6.

For sure the competition is very strong here but we have to do better.

Same weather forecast for tomorrow.

For complete results go to

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.

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.

The wind gods only graced us with enough wind to get one race in today. Bribon, with the King of Spain onboard, got to the left on the first windward leg and the wind in Spain went left and they were launched.

The wind speed was about 10 knots for the 1.25 hour affair and not much changed after the first windward mark. We managed a 6th which was decent and put us in a tie for 7th with Mutua Madrilena. Mean Machine finished 8th and that was good enough to win the regatta by one point over Bribon.

I think the fleet has had its fill of wind under 10 knots and is looking forward to the next Audi Med Cup event in Marseille in early June.

I will miss Marseille to attend my daughter’s graduation from high school, but will be back on the circuit for the third event in Cagliari, Italy in early July.

For complete results go to

Strange day today. No wind, then plenty of wind…up to 15 knots, then no wind. Luckily, we were able to squeeze in one race during a one hour window with 15 knots and that it was a good one for us. I got the boat up on the line and we finished 3rd. Mean Machine did a carbon copy of their other races and added yet another bullet to their score line for a strong lead in this regatta going into the final two races tomorrow.

After waiting for wind, then having a general recall and a postponement, we finally got a race underway around 1400. We had a good start up near the windward end with Mean Machine who tacked off for the right immediately. We followed a short time later and Artemis hipped up on us as we all drag raced out to the right. The right was good and we rounded in that order and stayed in that order for the duration. Just behind us, Platoon and Bribon and Quantum were nipping at our heels.

Surprisingly, the race was shortened at the second windward mark… it seemed like a mistake as the breeze was solid. About 6 minutes later, the wind died and shifted 160 degrees. I guess the committee knew exactly what they were doing.

After that, the wind never came back.

Tomorrow, two races will be attempted, but no races can be started after 1530.

For complete scores go to

The coastal race was held today, with light to moderate winds from the southeast. Most of the coastal racing is a procession, with little chance to pass. Today was not a lot different. For the second day in a row, Mean Machine won. They scored two first places, as they were in the lead at the half way point and at the finish. The course was about 30 miles and took just over three hours to complete. The TP52 Class allows masthead genoas (Code 0’s) for coastal racing and they were particularly useful today with the wind under 9 knots for half of the race.

Unfortunately I had a bad start again today… got tangled up with some Russians and we were very slow at the gun. We managed to clear out pretty quickly and make a big run back to mid-fleet by the top of the first windward leg, but we were two meters short of crossing Mutua Madrilena on starboard. That forced us into a late port tack approach which meant ducking a lot of boats. We gybed early in the run and that did not pay for us either.

We were going well on a long port tack upwind and playing the right along with Bribon. It looked good most of the way then just at the end, the wind went 15 degrees left and all that we gained evaporated. So, we rounded the island (10 miles South of Alicante) in 11th and were still there at the midpoint.

Then, as we headed back up the coast toward Alicante harbor under spinnaker, things go very light and the wind shifted right about 110 degrees. We all scrambled to get the Code 0’s on and we passed Platoon there. Then we went along the harbor where we found more wind and passed Matador and Ono. On the final run, in 5 knots of wind, we passed Mutua Madrilena.

So in the end, as has been our normal behavior this week, we passed four boats to finish 7th. Better but still, not what we are capable of. I really feel bad about the starts that I have had this week. They have cost us a lot of points. I am going to try harder in the last three races to get our boat out in front at the start and let it go. It is very fast.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for very light winds again and the schedule is for two windward leeward races starting at 1300.

For complete results go to

A big day of racing today with Races 3, 4 and 5 held in 10, 12 and 14 knots of wind, respectively. Course number one (windward, leeward, windward, finish) was used for all three races. Mean Machine had the best day with a fifth and two firsts, while Bribon is in first place with just 15 points.

Onboard Desafio Español we had an up and down day but we are definitely winning the prize for the most boats passed. We shot ourselves in the foot at the start of Race 3 by going over the line early without any real pressure from the boats around us. So, after restarting we passed nine boats and finished 7th. In the second race of the day, we had a good start but went left and that was not the place to be. We stumbled hard at the leeward gate, getting really slow there and just did not sail very well, so we finished 11th. Just prior to the start of Race 5, we had a string on the tiller break that caused me to lose control of the boat and we went beyond head to wind and fouled Tau. So right after crossing the line, we had to do a 360 degree penalty. Needless to say, we were well in last place. But the boat was fast up and downwind in the 14 knots and we managed to pass 11 boats to finish 5th!

So, the summary for us after the first two days is – the boat is fast and we have just got to stop getting in its way. I am very happy the way we have tuned this boat up, working very diligently on the rig tune, which is the critical element to getting these boats to sail fast through the wind range. Our North Sails by Sandro Benini are good too.

Tomorrow is the coastal race. There will be a scoring gate half way through the race which should be about 30 miles in total. Hopefully, we will have the 12-14 knots of wind that we finished up with today.

For complete results go to

Onboard Desafio we had an average day today. The conditions were very light winds, with smooth seas and partly sunny skies. The wind was 7-9 knots from 135 for the two races.

We finished the day with a 9th and 6th, so we are in 8th place overall. The big winner of the day was Tau (this former world champion “Artemis” is now owned by a Spanish team). Second for the day was Mutua Madrilena with Vasco Vascotto who did not practice at all during the last three days, as the top of their mast was being repaired having broken last Saturday. The racing is very competitive as you can see from the scores at

We (I) had a bad start in the first race and we had to tack onto port shortly before the starting gun and pass behind most of the fleet. We managed to dig our way out of there and round the top mark about 12th and finish 9th. John Cutler our tactician did a nice job there. In the second race, we had a good start but got a bit caught in the middle and went around the whole course pretty much in 6th.

When we got back to shore, Caxia Galicia informed us they were protesting us for an incident at the first windward mark. I won’t go into the details but obviously we did not feel there was an incident. I hate protests in general and this one seemed unnecessary to me from the get go. The other party was intent so we went through the hearing for 1.5 hours of pain. In the end, the protest was dismissed and off we went to our performance debrief to do something constructive to try to improve for tomorrow.

I am making this one short as I am late for the team dinner.

Two more windward/leeward races tomorrow.

The 2008 Audi Med Cup is about to get under way here in Alicante. Twenty boats are present, with a little more than half the fleet sailing new boats just built this winter. The season consists of six events, over five months, with a stand alone event for a World Championship in October in Lanzarote. For the complete schedule visit

I am sailing with the Spanish team, El Desafio. The team built a new Vrolijk designed TP52 last winter at their base in Valencia. Following the postponement of the America’s Cup last fall, Desafio decided that the sporting program for the team in 2008 would be to compete in the TP 52 circuit and the GP 42 circuit. The GP 42 was already in place and in fact, the team won the 2007 season with Laureano Wizner at the helm and a crew made up of the Desafio Español sailors.

The decision to build the new TP 52 was taken in mid-December and I for one thought it could not be done. But Agustin Zulueta, Managing Director of Desafio Español was confident his “boys” could do it. The mold of Bribon and Matador, two 2007 designs that were very good, was used to speed up the process. The boat was started on January 4th and was launched on April 20th! They built the entire boat in the Desafio base in Valencia – with the shore team and crew! The longest lead time item was a new mast. A new one could not be built in time. So the team acquired a spare mast from TP52 Anonimo from last year and we are starting out with that. The sails are by North Sails designer Sandro Benini who has done a great job designing sails for this fleet for the past four years.

We spent the last ten days tuning up the boat and getting the bugs worked out while sailing out of our base in Valencia. We hosted the Quantum Racing team with Terry Hutchinson as the helmsman. We got some good training in and now feel we have a solid platform to build on.

Today was the final day of practice and in fact, we had a practice race. The wind was 10-12 knots with relatively flat seas. The direction at the start was 165 degress and it moved left steadily through out the day to 130 degrees. We had a good start at the committee boat and sailed straight out to the left with Quantum, Platoon and Cam. At the first windward mark, Quantum was leading and we were fifth. Up the second windward leg, we got left of the three boats that were between us and Quantum and passed them to finish second. Not a bad way to cap off our training.

The racing will be very difficult and competitive. I am sure that at least ten of the 20 competitors could win this event. Consistency will be important and probably difficult to attain as so many boats are brand new and still sorting things out.

The format for the regatta is ten races with all races counting.Two windward/leeward races are scheduled per day for Tuesday Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday will be the coastal race and there will be two scoring opportunities in that race; one at the midpoint and one at the finish.

I am not sure what the forecast is for tomorrow but it will be a battle.