It has become a huge piece of global sailing history, a boat where some of the best sailors in Spain have built successful careers going on to make their names known all over the five continents.
The 38 year long wake left behind has been mainly propogated by two key names: Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, and José Cusí.
“It was the spring of 2004 when Ignacio Triay and Nacho Postigo explained their project to us, and we clearly saw that it was the way to follow”, explains Cusí, Bribón´s owner. “We were a bit disappointed after so much racing on handicap, we were not satisfied with it, so we decided to take a step forward and talk to European owners in order to create the class and established the Circuit´s basis”.
Looking back in time, Cusí feels that it was the right decision. “We have to adjust to modern times, understand the problems faced by owners and sponsors problems, but it was only a matter of time before things got better. Back in 2006, when the fleet had over 20 boats, we had an exceptional year. Those are a lot of boats when you stop and realize that we are talking about 52 footers. I think that it´s the perfect boat and the best scenario to compete in Europe”.
Since that first regatta in Punta Ala (Italy), in May 2005, the MedCup has evolved. TP52’s have not stopped developing in terms of speeds and materials used, the result of a better optimization under the rule and incremental advances by designers. Curiously enough, Spain´s most notable team has often not been the newest or most optimized boat. “In 2005 we started with a Farr design which was a design sister of the Caixa Galicia and Aifos boats. Two years later we started with a brand new Vrolijk built in Valencia. Maybe we extended its lifespan a bit, we were a bit short with its performance, and this season we are competing with the old Matador, a 2009 Vrolijk”.
Both the owner and Triay, his right hand man, agree about the toughest moments the team have been through the last seven years: “Without a doubt, the two collisions that we suffered because they caused some serious damages. We felt impotent and disappointed, because the boat is part of you. It happened in Ibiza in 2006 and in Cagliari in 2010, both times at the last event of the season which also led to the boats to be replaced with a newer model”, explains Triay, Bribon’s project manager and trimmer .
38 years is a long time and it has written a long and distinguished roster of crew members. Four of the actual members have been present in every single Audi MedCup Circuit with Bribón: “Alberto Viejo, Marcel Van Triest and myself, have been here since 2005, but we also have to point out names like Ross MacDonald, who only missed last year´s event due to work related issues”, remembers Triay. The list of skippers is not short. “Buchan, from the United States, was our first helmsman, he was with us in order to fulfil the Corinthian class requirements, and then Augie Díaz in 2005´s last event”, he adds. After that came Bouwe Bekking, José María Torcida, Dean Barker, Thierry Peponnet, and Galician Gonzalo Araujo for the last two seasons, which might symbolized the progressive advance towards a more Spanish oriented crew. “I´m really glad about the fact that 13 or 15 of our crew members are Spanish”, explains Cusí.
When questioned about the team´s retirement, the most renowned Spanish owner does not look for any excuses, admitting that age takes its toll, and that both he and King Juan Carlos aggregate too many years between them now to remain in these demanding boats. The fact that Cusí is retiring in Barcelona is not a coincidence. “Everything started 38 years ago and we wanted to finish here”, he confesses. “I´m confident about having a great end, but finishing first is a really hard thing to do. I feel bad, because our Skipper can´t be here for Bribón´s last regatta, but he follows us every day , so he is present in a way”, he adds.
Whatever the final result is, Bribón´s farewell will be emotional and full of gratitude for everything that the project has meant for the world of sailing, both in Spain and in Europe.
“Oh, and by the way, let´s be clear on this: I´m not retiring, I will keep sailing, although not in regattas”, concludes Cusí.