Torbjörn Törnqvist pratar om nya båten och säsongen 2008. I dag börjar allvaret i Alicante.
Cool, calm and collected in 2007, the current champion owner can’t wait to get started with his title defence.
In 2007 he was usually the picture of coolness. Swede Torbjörn Tornqvist took to the MedCup Circuit like he was born to it, albeit with the undivided attention of Russell Coutts to keep the Artemis owner and helm right.
The Circuit winning owner made an early decision to give himself and his champion team the best possible chance of winning again in 2008 and ordered a new boat. Coutts’ role with BMW ORACLE Racing meant a change of designer to Reichel/Pugh was in order, working in tandem with a new boat for his team’s owner Larry Ellison.
Tornqvist, who is a successful Geneva based oil broker, has had a busy winter and met up with the new Artemis 08, which was built by Mick Cookson and his Auckland team, for the first time last weekend in Valencia.
Did Tornqvist feel any obvious difference between last year’s boat and the new Artemis 08?:
“There is no reason to believe the boat will be slower than last year at all. It is difficult to say it feels much different, we think it will be faster but I think it will be more to do with sail development and the way that we sail the boat, and not the boat sail itself.” He contends:
What similarities are there between the two boats?
“Their boat is not yet ready and will not be ready for the first regatta,” he maintains, “ but they are very similar other than some detail. There are similarities but some differences. We are sharing know-how, for example in the sail programme.”
Coutts was undoubtedly central to the overall success of the 2007 Artemis programme, has his influence been as profound this time:
“Russell is always influential but has been quite occupied with the America’s Cup and Oracle and the situation with Alinghi and so he has not been that involved with the day to day running of it.” Says Tornqvist,
“We discussed at the end of last season what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go, and a few things we wanted to change. Russell is always involved but it is a good team and many things are left to other people on the team.”
Can the winning team from 2007 go on to repeat their success?
“My view is that this year it will be even harder competition at the top. I think we have eight new boats and most will have formidable crews so it will certainly not be easier than last year. If anything when it comes to boat speed we had an edge last year, it will remain to be seen if we have that edge again this year. It will come down to how we will sail the boat.”
“Obviously we won last year and so it would be nice to do the same again this year, but I have to be realistic, at least three, four or five boats who will be very fierce competitors, and they all would have the ability to win the Audi MedCup.”
Tornqvist has stayed in touch with developments through the winter, such as his business commitments have allowed, but he has not been sailing since last year:
“To tell you the truth I have not been on a boat since Porto Cervo. I am an amateur and I have my business to run. Of course I have been in touch with progress but I have such a god team looking after the boat. There are no worries there. It is a continuation of last year, although the crew is different to a large extent.”
“Most of them come from BMW ORACLE, some from outside, but last year it was a mix from Team New Zealand, Alinghi and so forth, but I am sure that this year we have as good a team as last year. We know how to sail the boat.”
And what did he and the crew learn from the first sail on Artemis 08:
“For me we have done a little bit of testing of new sails, we looked at them, did some tacking and sailing to get the feel for it. For me personally I think I should be a better helmsman this year. Last year it was a totally new experience for me. I feel more confident in steering the boat, but I don’t feel pressure. We like to do well and we have things in place to do well. A little bit of pressure you have to have, otherwise it does not get the best out of you.”
This season John Kostecki will serve as tactician on Artemis 08 in place of Coutts:
“Unfortunately John Kostecki was doing a`multihull event in Geneva at the weekend so he did not sail with us. When I get down at the weekend we will have a couple days practice.”
“I am really looking forward to it. I remember all those good moments from last year, but there may be some disappointments as well. That is sport.”
What impact has the non arrival of USA 17 had so far?
“No it does not really have an influence on our programme at the moment, they are working quite hard to get the boat ready as quickly as possible for the second regatta and we look forward to them joining the Circuit. But it does not have a big influence on our programme at the moment.”
“It would have been nice to do some two boat testing but I think they will need some time to get up to speed, while we feel quite ready now. It feels good and the boat feels good and there is nothing, from a time perspective, that we are worried about.”
“But time will tell.”