Santa Ana, backed by the Spanish real estate group and previously known as Stuart Robinson's Stay Calm, is being jointly campaigned over the Breitling MedCup by Robinson along with Juan Antonio Iniesta.
Their Farr designed, Goetz Custom built boat was launched in time for a brief work up alongside Tom Stark's Rush to prepare for Key West Race Week which, on their debut, they won.
Since then they were sixth in Miami at the Global Championships, then winning the Palma Vela regatta Robinson's partnership with former GBR Challenge America's Cup tactician Stead dates back to his Swan 70, also Stay Calm, although the pair were allegedly opponents as kids in Cadet dinghies. " We are in good shape. I think." Explains Robinson, " We had the warm up regatta in PalmaVela had a new rudder put on for that, smaller, but with a bit more feel, and I think all in all that was good preparation for this Breitling MedCup Series, which is what this is all about".
"This is just fantastic, there aren't any Grand Prix race programmes that have 19 boats lining up".
"We started to build the boat 1st August last year after having done our first initial work in April and held off until this regatta last year, holding back the build until as late as possible. We thought we had it near enough right. We did come inboard on the cuddy, which reduced the sheeting angle - we are at 6 degrees. Overall we did Key West, we did Miami, we did Palma, basically all warming up to this".
"Key for us is maintaining the same crew, we have a two year commitment from most people. We have a couple of changes but every regatta is about building on the last one. But there are a lot of big names here and we will just have to see how we go." Robinson, a committed and talented owner driver says: "This will be the biggest sailing competition I have done, but this is a hobby for me, it's about having fun. It's not my job, but the aim is to improve my sailing. That's the way of looking at it really." "We met with a few others but we chose Farr and Goetz. Farr had done a lot of boats and we felt were key to the next generation of boats. To be honest we look around and there is not much difference."
"I think we are going to see different boats doing different things. There are some boats which are more radical but we are really only going to see when 20 boats sheet on off the start line." Says Santa Ana's skipper Adrian Stead, "But there is so much you can do, just keep chipping away. I think we have done a couple of re-cuts on the mainsail every night since we got here and you look round the vans here and most have a sewing machine and are doing the same. There is so much to how you sail these boats and mode them, the weight on the rail, the balance." Stead, who conceived the project with Robinson and has managed it since then, says: "We are pretty much on the optimum track in terms of development, having chosen to start in Key West and wait as late as possible last year to make the final design. I feel we have done some good work and kept progressing. We sit down after every regatta and work through what was good and what we have to do, and what we have to add to go better. We have a good relationship with North Sails' John Welch (in the UK)."
"I think this week we will see the refining that others have done, and the background of some of the new boats and where they have come from means some America's Cup sail designers who have access to resources will have been using their spare time well, and I think there will have been quite a lot of resources put into this class over the last winter. It will be very interesting to see how we go, and how it all unfolds. In terms of preparation we have had three good regattas in a row and have put into action what we learned in Miami."
"In terms of sail development we have two jibs recut, but we just keep chipping away. This promises to be a fabulous series. I think the circuit will grab a lot of attention around the world. The class is fantastic. There are three boats not here and seven boats in build. It is just going to keep on getting better." Says Robinson. "The boat is going well and we are sailing it better all the time."Concludes Stead, "The partnership with Santa Ana is important and exciting for us to. The have been great, not imposing anything on the programme and we are looking forward to getting some good results for them."