Coastal has stormy start
A promising day, 15 knots, blazing sun, ended for 3 teams 1.8 miles up the road, at the weather mark, where in 2 collisions Caixa, Mutua and Matador were forced to retire.
The information on the incidents at Mark 1 is that Caixa hit Mutua Madrilena whilst trying at the last minute to take avoiding action when Rusal came in hard on port with nowhere to go. And it was in a separate collision that Matador was hit in a port-starboard crossing when the mainsheet on Mean Machine did not get released. Vasco Vascotto (ITA) Mutua Madrilena’s helm seems to have been slightly battered and bruised from the crash. That is the first report we have had from the shore where the three boats are now at the dock, Mutua Madrilena, Caixa Galicia and Matador.
Especially Caixa looks badly hurt, her bow shortened by almost half a meter.
At the Gate the remainder of the fleet has Platoon in the lead, from Artemis and USA 17 who are very close, Bribon4th, Desafio 5th, Mean Machine 6th, Audi Q8 7th, Cristabella 8th, Rusal 9th, Valars 10th a Quantum who blew two kites within about two miles on the top part of the reach and run, are 11th.
Breeze is back up to 20 knots on the way back in, this is certainly a special place to be racing, Quantum and Cristabella toying with each other, swapping tacks under the cliffs which tower above them. Audi Q8 and Mean Machine are having their own duel too, for sixth and seventh. Their target is Desafio inshore and Rusal offshore. Up front it is Platoon with a good lead, USA 17 now in 2nd, Artemis 3rd.
Incredible scene here as Platoon threads their way through the narrow gap between the Ile Jaire and Cape Croisette, it is only about 600 metres across at the narrowest. Platoon was no more than 10 metres from the rocky shore, doing 9 knots at full chat upwind in flat water. Navigators earning their crust today, but still a few white knuckles aboard perhaps. USA 17 are right back in it and now are only 40 metres behind, a real battle between the German boat and the Americans, with Larry Ellison driving this upwind leg at the moment.
And as they come out from the lee of the islands the breeze is back up to 22 knots and the sea bigger, the boats pitching again, just half a mile to pass the rocky Ile Tiboulen de Mer for the second time. Then they will tack for the finish. Artemis are still 3rd, Bribon 4th, Desafio 5th, Mean Machine 6th, then Valars, Audi Q8 and Quantum all just about 90 seconds apart.
But Platoon look set to hang on their lead, just ahead of USA 17, Artemis in 3rd, Desafio lying 4th ahead of the ever consistent Bribon. If anything Platoon have opened a little more gap since the turn, it’s a fast jib reach with the breeze forward of the beam, sheets eased.
Finish, top 3 are Platoon who, provisionally take double points today, USA 17 2nd, +37 seconds back, Artemis in 3rd at +3 minutes and 01 secs. Desafio +4.50 mins have a good race to take 4th from Bribon +4.59 in 5th, Mean Machine in 6th at +5.17 mins, 7th is Rusal at +6.23 mins, Quantum 8th at +6 mins 32 secs.
With nearly half the fleet flying protest flags the battle continuoes onshore for sure.
So at the final windward mark of Race 7 there was a big header, both leaders were neck and neck and stalled out as they were forced to roll into a tack one boat length from the mark. Quantum with Morgan Larson and Terry Hutchinson doing the business got away best and left the spreader mark with alead of 6 seconds, 2nd was USA 17, 3rd Artemis at +14 secs, 4th Platoon at +25 secs, 5 th Cristabella at +33 secs and 6th Desafio + 46 secs, 7th Rusal wsith Chris Larson calling the tactics this regatta, 8th Mean Machine.
Big gust coming down from the City now and Mean Machine were first to gybe to get it first with Cristabella, USA 17 gybed a short one and lost initially, will be a fascinating finish, nothing for certain at this stage.
Quantum holding on through this squall, Artemis are going to get second. Very very close, with Quantum just getting it on the line after luffing momentarily to hold up Artemis, Cristabella get third after hooking into the squall first, USA 17 get fourth, Platoon, Desafio.
And Race 2:
At the finish it is USA 17, Quantum +8 seconds behind, great recovery after a bad start in very testing conditions, very good boat handling in the big breeze and good tactical choices in the shifty, very gusty conditions, Bribon 3rd at +28 seconds, Platoon 4th at +40 seconds, Artemis 5h and Audi Q8 6th. A very breezy race in the end, spectacular downwinds, especially that one and a good call from the race committee to go for the longer course for the second race. So with Artemis in 5th that time, more breathing space for USA 17 going in to the final day.
You have to say that Marseille really has delivered some special conditions and is a real world class sailing venue. It is a while on this Circuit since we have reached the penultimate day with 8 races completed, and a fighting chance of getting to 10 races.
Bravo le Mistral!
Race 7 in Marseille
© Th.Martinez/AUDI MEDCUP