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Mean Machine/Mutua Madrilena chasing Warpath all the way.

May 27, 2006 11:55 0 comments

Peter de Ridder and his mostly Kiwi crew on Mean Machine/Mutua Madrilena sailed to another convincing win in today’s 31 miles coastal race at the Breitling Med Cup in Punta Ala, Italy.
Their fourth consecutive win from five starts now leaves Mean Machine/Mutua Madrilena just two points behind Steve and Fred Howe’s Warpath, which is also sailed but Emirates Team New Zealand crew with Dean Barker steering.

With the light, but established north westerly sea breeze arriving just as it did on Thursday, the formula for Mean Machine/Mutua Madrilena’s victory was the same. Starting smartly off the right hand, boat end of the start line they were first to tack away and once more they were never crossed or passed around the entire course.

De Ridder paid tribute to the excellence of his crew, and to their weather team, who identified the favourable increase in wind pressure on this side of the course as the breeze fans out down the Gulf of Follonica.

“We made some big gains with smart sailing by our guys. Our strategist Tom Dodson and Tactician Ray Davies did an excellent job. It was a bit confusing at the start but we sorted it out and knew we wanted to go to the right.” Explained de Ridder,

“ We started at the boat end and were ahead quickly. We were very proactive in our preparation and had good weather information from our navigator Wouter Verbak and forecasts from Chris Bedford. That meant we knew what we wanted to do. Once you are leading it is much easier and from then we were just trying to sail the windshifts. Judel Vrolijk did a good job designing this boat and it seems to be quick all round.”

De Ridder’s relationship with the New Zealanders goes back to 1997 when the Kiwis sailed with him in the Admiral’s Cup and then he had five Kiwis when they won the ILC 40 World Championship in Poland that same year.

“I am an honorary member of Team New Zealand now and put a little money into the pot.”
“Peter does so much sailing that it makes a real difference. He sails his Mumm 30 and Farr 40 and does match racing in Holland and other boats and that just means he is sharp and gets right into the groove.” Commented Mutua Madrilena’s tactician Ray Davies,

“It has taken a year together to get this project where it is now and it is very satisfying. For us it is such a breath of fresh air after (America’s) Cup sailing. You get boxed into the one job and focussing on the same things all the time. Here you are running about the boat and getting really involved in everything and you become much more aware of what is important in making the boat go fast. It is very good for your sailing.”

Mean Machine/Mutua Madrilena was 1 minute and 56 seconds ahead after the first long beat to Cerboli island, rounding ahead of Jose Cusi’s Bribon. John Cook’s new J&V designed Cristabella passed the first turn in third, two minutes and 49 seconds behind Mean Machine and went on to take second.

The British team, with American Dee Smith as tactician, now lie fourth overall.
“People had let Mean Machine go right every time and won. Today the penny dropped. We got a good start and seemed to have plenty of speed. With four out of five Judel & Vrolijk boats in the top five, we chose the right designer. No wonder Rolf Vrolijk is smiling.”

If Mean Machine/Mutua Madrilena were close to perfect today it was another day of simple consistency for Dean Barker and the crew of Warpath. The Botin & Carkeek design rounded the first island in fifth and worked up to fifth at the second turning mark and were third by the Palmaiola. They lost a couple of boat lengths on the final downwind when their snap shackle holding the tack of the spinnakers opened during a spinnaker change, but their third place keeps them ahead of their Emirates Team New Zealand team-mates and sets up a fascinating final day tomorrow.

“It was tricky. We had to battle back after the start but we had some pretty good tactics and our speed was pretty good. I think we found a couple of modes which worked well for us.” Said Barker, “This whole circuit is good for us to work together as an afterguard. We learn more in the speed area, it teaches us more about sailing smart and keeps us fresh and interested. This is such a very competitive fleet. America’s Cup sailing is so much about waiting to go sailing. Here we do six regattas which will be really good for our sailing skills.”

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