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You could well hear "well done mate!” on the dockside today in Palma. The showdown between New Zealanders, Adam Minoprio and Phil Robertson...

Palma de Mallorca – You could well hear “well done mate!” on the dockside today in Palma. The showdown between New Zealanders, Adam Minoprio and Phil Robertson, both world champion match racers and both skippering the Norauto and Armin Strom GC32s, was battled out at the Copa del Rey in Palma. Norauto held on to beat rivals Armin Strom and Team Tilt, despite the varying conditions and the surprises of the race. Following a victory on the Riva Cup and a second place in Malcesine, this new success asserts Norauto’s overall lead in the 2016 championship.

The standard continues to rise on the circuit. Crews gain confidence and new sailors from all over the sailing world contribute to raising the standards. For Adam Minoprio, who replaced Franck Cammas at the helm of Norauto, it was not an easy task. After two strong performances in Italy, he needed to keep up the momentum in this Spanish event.

The crew also had to adapt to last-minute changes. The bowman, Nicolas Heintz, who suffered a torn muscle, had to be replaced by Louis Viat, who was barely out of the Tour Voile with the Team France youth team and who arrived in Palma just hours before the start of the first round. Julien Villon sailed for the first time alongside Adam as tactician, and Hervé Cunningham, the previous sail trimmer, injured his arm on Friday, requiring four stitches. In the strong wind and difficult seas, other crews also reported some injuries. On Saturday, the race committee had to cancel the races due to strong winds. They concluded racing today, where they were becalmed at first, and then, with perfect conditions late in the day.

I’m really happy with the performance we produced together,” said Adam Minoprio. “Both the crew and the ‘shore team’ (technicians). With the injuries and the crew changes that make things far more difficult when manoeuvring at speed, we managed to race well, even in the very wind conditions. Louis is a great sailor but he had not previously sailed much on the boat, and only very recently. He really pulled out all the stops. We solved problems one by one, we were under pressure, but it paid off. What an excellent result to end up with a win! It was also really nice to meet Phil (Robertson) on this circuit. He was a formidable opponent and it’s good that he managed to keep his second place after the last race.

It was a big challenge for me, ” Louis Viat explains. “In the manoeuvres, we weren’t perfect, but Adam was very good. Each person focussed on doing their very best and we managed to work together well. Armin Strom was the major opponent and also Team Tilt, who did not start the event in a very good position, with penalties, a few breakages and trailing behind by some points, came back strongly today. I ended up totally exhausted, but so happy for the whole team.

I had a few stitches in my arm to prevent infection but my injury didn’t stop me from finishing the race. Before it began, we knew we were not racing at full capacity. We decided to make it simple, without getting too worked up. Each crew-member played their part. Julien (Villon) got up to speed quickly. Adam managed the strengths and weaknesses of the team and then, we started to see that we could win. The team spirit was very good and, clearly, this all helped us win, “concludes Hervé Cunningham.

Overall positions in the Copa del Rey GC32 after 12 races:
1. Norauto (FRA): 33 points
2. Armin Strom Sailing Team (SUI): 40 points
3. Team Tilt (SUI): 41 points
4. Malizia – YC Monaco (MON): 53 points
5. Argo (USA): 57 points

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