Audi MedCup Marseille Trophy 2011's stunning finale

Marcus Wieser at the helm of Container in the Audi MedCup Marseille Trophy 2011
© Francesco Ferri_Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup
Audi MedCup Marseille Trophy 2011 has come to a close and while Mistral may have taken victory for the day, Germany’s Container sailed on to win the regatta. Strong northeasterly winds kicked up awkward seas at the entry way to Marseille harbour and on the course which meant that the one final showdown that was scheduled could not be run today leaving Udo Schuetz’s Container team victorious in the 52 Series Marseille Trophy, and Spain’s Ibedrola Team winning the 40 Series Marseille Trophy.

The crew aboard Container of Germany are the debutants on the Audi MedCup Circuit and have followed up their second place in the Cascais Trophy this past month, which they gained only days after launching their boat for the first time on the Portuguese capital’s racing waters.

The Markus Wieser (GER) skippered crew become the first German flagged team ever to win a regatta on the Audi MedCup Circuit, a victory for renowned owner Schuetz, formerly successful sportscar racer who won the 1993 Admiral’s Cup with a three boat German team. The veteran owner arrived to be on board for the finale today, but was thwarted by the brisk Mistral.

Ironically, so late was the inception of the Container TP52 programme that this was originally supposed to be their first regatta in the class. But, with a very experienced crew – a hard core evolving their two year Container STP65 programme – and assured tactics they proved furiously consistent in Portugal.

In France over eight races they beat the world champions and Cascais Trophy winners Quantum Racing (USA) five times on the hop. Yesterday their first ever win in the class was a vital victory over the 35 miles, high points value coastal race, to emerge this afternoon just 1.5pts clear of the America’s Cup winning skipper-helm Ed Baird and crew of Quantum Racing who took second.

If the Container team were visibly pleased with their regatta win, so too Quantum Racing were not overly disappointed to emerge from a very testing, tactical regatta during which the breezes proved extremely difficult to read. If the Cascais menu was strictly upscale ‘formule’, Marseille’s wind strengths delivered the full à la carte menu from six knots to 26kts often with shifts of 15-30 degrees, big variations in pressure, and different breezes on either flank of the windward-leeward tracks.

Iberdrola Team celebrating their victory in the Audi MedCup Marseille Trophy 2011
© Nico Martinez/Audi MedCup

All five of the Soto 40 crews would have loved a Mistral powered decider today, not least the sharp shooting South American guns on Patagonia by Negra, skippered by Uruguayan Nicolas Gonzalez, whose two wins from yesterday’s three races had got them to within three points of Jose Maria ‘Pichu’ Torcida’s Iberdrola.

But the strong winds stymied that too and Iberdrola Team, who won the Marseille Trophy here last year, also extend their lead in the Audi MedCup Circuit 40 Series from 10 points after Cascais to be 18 points ahead of Patagonia.

Across the eight races off Marseille, six different TP52’s won individual races including two for British owner Tony Langley and his Gladiator crew on their Audi MedCup Circuit debut, matching Quantum Racing’s tally of two wins. And both Audi Sailing Team powered by All4ONE (FRA/GER) and Container won their first races of the season.

Markus Wieser (GER) skipper-helm Container (GER): 'When we started sailing in Cascais we said a top three, podium result would be great for us and we got second and we come here to Marseille we also thought top three would be great, and so winning is a great surprise for us. We are new into the class, I sailed the boat for the first time in Cascais, but it all comes down to the great team and the owner. He gave me the chance to sail with the guys I wanted to sail with. We have a great tactician, we have Hartwell Jordan who is running the boat, the sail programme so we are set up very well.

And so it really comes down to the team. We all won together, and it is great victory for us and for Germany. We have a nice combination. I have known Hamish for many, many years we sailed together on the match-race circuit and with Hartwell the mainsail trimmer we sailed together for many years, so it is a nice combination. I picked the guys to fit nicely together and we have fun sailing together. If you have fun you can sail very well together.

On the long distance race yesterday we had a fight coming from behind. And we won the race because we were just fighting all the time and it is just nice sailing with these guys.

Container crew celebrating their success at the Audi MedCup Marseille Trophy 2011

After the second day we were in sixth position but the gap between us was just six points and so we always knew that if we can have a good day we would be back in the game. Consistency is so very important, even with eight boats you have to fight for every place and never give up. So our fighting mentality helps us come back.

Our team is working very well in the light stuff and the strong breeze so Cagliari can be good. I think that Quantum, us and Audi Azzurra Sailing Team have a slight advantage.

There was not much between us an Quantum. We did beat Quantum five races in a row and so we played the shifts a little better. But if you are on the up you feel strong, and if you are not doing so well it is hard to fight back, if one team is on a high it is really hard to beat them. We have been on a high on the last three days and so it was difficult for Quantum to catch us. Out boat speed became better and better. We are learning every day and we are still catching up, I think it is very level between us, Quantum and Azzurra.'

José María Torcida (ESP), skipper, Iberdrola Team (ESP): 'We are quite pleased with the way we´ve sailed here in Marseille, with tough conditions. We are very happy with the boat and the crew, because we are people who enjoys been in the water, something that can be an importante factor in long championships such as the Audi MedCup Circuit. About Cagliari, not a lot will change, we´ll have a small change at the mast. There´s no doubt that we will try to keep working the way that we´ve been in order to reach our final goal'.

Ed Baird (USA), Skipper, Quantum Racing (USA): 'We are disappointed because we would´ve liked to have a chance to go out there today and get some points back, but the weather is the weather. Container sailed really well this week, especially in the last three or four races, the deserved to win. Basically, we stretched our lead from a lot of the teams and only lost to them. We are happy so far. Now we have to wait for the next opportunity to race everybody in Italy'.

Ed Reynolds (USA) project manager Quantum Racing (USA): 'The important thing is that we only lost 1.5 points in the overall since Cascais, that is all. This was like last year where the Kiwis dominated in Cascais and came here and got fourth. This was a really tough, tough regatta and Container did a really good job to end up where they did, and I am really proud of our guys too, it was amazingly tough. We felt we survived and it could easily, easily have been ten points worse off. Debrief? We think that marginal surfing conditions are maybe not really a strong point of the boat, or whether we need more technique. We had never sailed in these conditions so there was a lot of learning going on. We are going to make some more some changes.

I think our boat is very strong upwind. There are some areas downwind, could be the sail choice, could be the technique, that is one of the things we will work on for next time. Container – I don’t want to take away from the skill of the crew – they have it figured out but the boat looks really quick downwind.

We are hoping for steadier breeze in Cagliari and just to get some time to just let the big horse get out and run for a while. Cagaliari we won three years ago, had a really bad regatta two years and we were in the hunt last time.

It is very different dynamic than with Terry (Hutchinson). This is good working through an adversity together. It has been fun because it has been pointed and the discussions are good and so I do think we will come away from here a stronger team. For everybody here it is a change. This event everyone was so close together.

For us we never come to a regatta to win it, it is always about the series. And so from that standpoint each event is a race in a regatta, in the big scheme of things. We were not naïve enough to think we were going to come here and run the table. This is the closest the series has been since I have been doing the MedCup. We just got on a roll in Cascais and the expectations were high and pretty big, but I don’t think anyone on our team was believing that.'

Tony Langley (GBR) owner-driver Gladiator (GBR): 'We exceeded all expectations this time out. It was fantastic. I made a few changes after Palma Vela and signed Chris Main a week ago and his experience has been invaluable, that was a late thing. And that was the missing ingredient and he said what do you want from me? And I said I want you to roll the dice. He did say to be prepared to be last in every race. And I said that if was going to be a last in every race then just make sure it was not a procession to the last. I said roll the dice and if we come out in the top half then don’t roll it again, and if we come out in the bottom half then roll it again if you can.

It is all a challenge. For me it is all about steering the boat myself. We had a very long coastal race. The first hour and a half we were second boat and third boat then fourth and after an hour and half I was pretty pleased with that. And I don’t think it is any coincidence that the two last boats were owner-drivers, in uprange conditions. I can drive at a reasonable level at 12-14kts, but uprange is where the pros are still driving at 98% after four hours and I am down at 80%.

I had the Farr 45 five years ago. I had a very lucky debut Round the Island and won Class Zero with two pros on board. And we still have the 45 and I really enjoyed the progression through that. I don’t think I could have stepped into this fleet without that, the hand on hand on combat and we still do a bit of that on the Solent.'

Conatiner and Iberdrola Team, 1st classified TP52 at the Audi MedCup Marseille Trophy 2011 Prizegiving

Hamish Pepper (NZL) tactician Container (GER): 'It is a bit of a shame we did not get to sail today. We would have had an exciting race with Quantum Racing I am sure and the other boats would have been fighting it out for third I am sure. We are thrilled. We are new to the Circuit and so it is great to get a win. We are getting to know the boat better. We are learning the modes and the targets and speeds. The boat seems to be very good downwind, we gained a lot downwind when the breeze got up downwind. Markus and the guys did a great job trimming. And we managed to get the pressure at the right time. It is good.

It is always important to win regattas. It is a nice feeling when the shore team put so much time into the boat, they work very long hours and so for us to go on the water and be able to pull it off is great. And for Udo to be here it is great.

The level is always good. Quantum Racing is a good boat, Azzurra is good and Synergy, RAN have good crew, even Gladiator won a couple of races and showed they are a good boat and a good team. It is always tricky, it is tough, always tough.

This is a totally different venue to Cascais. It is a tactical venue. There are lots of things going on with pressure, lots of opportunities, shifts, geographical effects. It is a tough regatta to do well at.

We are here, having fun, we enjoy going sailing and there are a lot of friends on board and that is fun sailing. When you are having fun sailing it seems to go well. It is fun sailing with Markus. I was a bit tired after the Olympic regatta so it is nice to get the body back in order here!

Marseille Trophy 52 Series Final Results after eight races:

1. Container (GER), 7+3+4+6+2+3+2+1,5= 28,5 points
2. Quantum Racing (USA), 4+1+1+8+3+4+3+6= 30
3. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 1+7+3+7+5+5+6+3= 37
4. Bribón (ESP), 3+2+6+5+8+1+4+9= 38
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 2+4+7+2+6+6+5+7,5= 39,5
6. Ràn (SUE), 5+5+2+4+4+2+9 (DSQ)+10,5= 41,5 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (EUR), 6+6+8+3+7+8+1+4,5= 43,5
8. Gladiator (GBR), 8+8+5+1+1+7+9 (DNF)+12=47

40 Series Final Results after seven races:

1. Iberdrola Team (ESP) 3+1+1+2+3+1+3=14
2. Patagonia by Negra (ARG) 4+2+2+4+1+3+1=17
3. Noticia IV (ESP) 5+4+3+1+5+2+2= 22
4. XXII-Marseille (ESP) 1+3+5+3+4+5+5=26
5. Ngoni (GBR) 2+5+4+5+2+4+4=26

52 Series Results after two events:

1. Quantum Racing (USA), 19 + 30= 49 points
2. Container (GER), 31,5 + 28,5= 60 points
3. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team (ITA), 32,5 + 37= 69,5 points
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS), 37 + 39,5= 76,5 points
5. Ràn (SUE), 5+5+2+4+4+2+9 (DSQ) 40,5 + 41,5= 82 points
6. Bribón (ESP), 47,5 + 38= 85,5 points
7. Audi Sailing Team Powered by All4One (GER/FR) 58 + 43,5=101,5 points
8. Gladiator (GBR), 85,5 + 47= 132,5 points

40 Series Results after two events

1. Iberdrola Team (ESP) 13 + 14= 27
2. Patagonia (ARG) 28 + 17= 45
3. Noticia IV (ESP) 25 + 22= 47
4. XXII (ESP) 23 + 26= 49
5. Ngoni (GBR) 33 + 26= 59

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