Two Portuguese teams will represent home hopes when the new Soto 40 class competes for the Cascais Trophy as the class debuts in Europe as the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit raises the curtains to an exciting season.
Pedro Mendonca’s popular Bigamist team will not only be on waters they know well, but having competed on the MedCup Circuit since 2006 there is little chance of this laid-back but hard driving team being overawed.
But it will be a whole new experience for Francisco Lobato and the crew of the newly launched XXII Portuguese Sailing Team. And for Lobato, who will skipper the team and drive the boat, something quite a bit different to the short handed ocean racing which has become his forte. In the Mini 650 he has already been to the summit when he won the 2009 Mini Transat, and now is a top Figaro racer who divides his time between home in Portugal and France. He already has several Figaro podium finishes to his credit and has just completed the Transat Benodet Martinique in eighth place, only nine hours off the winner’s time after nearly 17 days of racing. But Lobato is very much up for the challenge: “ It will be very challenging to race in a new boat, with a new crew against high level teams which are well trained. But let’s make the best possible regatta and hopefully give maybe get ahead of some of the favorite teams!”, says Lobato. ” It is very exciting to be able to participate in such a high level of regatta and a very different experience for me, on a boat roughly the same size as the one I cross the oceans with alone, but now sailing with a crew of nine. It will be a very enriching experience and I look forward to exchanging experiences and skills with the members of our team.” he adds.
The XXII Portuguese Sailing Team will be competing with the European demonstrator Soto 40 which is being made available to potential owners and teams over the course of the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit.
Among the other key members of the crew will be David Aleixo (POR) who has been sailing in the 49er Class for the last two years until his progress was halted by injury. He is a match racer ranked in the top 3 in Portugal.
“It will be great to race in a class like this even if we have little time to prepare together and with the boat, but we know the waters very well and will make it a priority to ensure the boat is fast.!” He adds.
Francisco Andrade (POR) is on his third Olympic cycle in the 49er class and has been a member of the host club in Cascais since 1988. “These are the waters I grew up sailing on and it is our training area so that will be a real honour to be racing on them with the Audi MedCup Circuit and I have heard such good reports about the Soto 40’s it is going to be exciting. I think our objective will be keep setting ourselves short term goals and just give it everything we have, that is what we can do as a new team just getting together to sail a brand new boat.”
Guilhereme Almeida (POR) has wanted to take part in the Audi MedCup Circuit for a long time and has been sailing in Cascais for the last 20 years. He has sailed in many different yacht classes but has a background which goes from Optimist and 420 through to the 49er, and Platu 25.
Other members of the XXII Sailing Team will be announced but the core group is
Francisco Lobato (POR) – Skipper
David Aleixo (POR)- Tactics
Duarte Neves (POR)- Bowman
Guilherme Almeida (POR) – Mast
Bernardo Freitas (POR)- Pi t
Pedro Andrade (POR) Trimmer Mainsail