Coming up: the TP52 World Championship.
Twelve TP52s line up for the 2015 TP52 World Title at Puerto Portals.
Next week the TP52 fleet return to Puerto Portals, Mallorca for the first time since 2008 when a twelve boat fleet line up to fight for the TP52 World Championship title at the third regatta of the season long 2015 52 SUPER SERIES.
It may be a new and very different looking fleet of TP52s to the year 2008 when crews were competing at the 14th Breitling Regatta and arguably the 2015 worlds fleet is much more open, much harder to call a possible winner than back then, but certain teams have winning form which runs right back through the class history to those earlier days of the world’s leading grand prix monohull class.
In 2008 Quantum Racing won on the Bay of Palma, rolling in back to back regatta titles with their new boat and Terry Hutchinson as tactician. They were the ‘dominant force’ of that time. This year they return to the Bay of Palma not yet having won a 52 SUPER SERIES regatta this season with their new boat. With different helms in Valencia and Porto Cervo, Sardinia the super high level of winning consistency has eluded the 2014 World Champions and 52 SUPER SERIES title holders, so far.
But in Portals the afterguard is back to the familiar all-pro line up of America’s Cup winner Ed Baird on the helm with Adrian Stead as tactician and the ever dependable Juan Vila as navigator. There is every chance that Quantum Racing will find their winning mojo again on the Bay of Palma.
Absence makes the heart beat faster
There are two significant teams returning after absence. Niklas Zennström’s hard punching Rán Racing unfolded their A game from Day 1 of the season and won outright in Valencia, and as world champions of 2013 they are a crew which can win on the big occasion. They are competing at only two regattas this season and therefore have less to lose.
“There will be a little more spice to the teams than Valencia, seeing Ed Baird back on the helm of Quantum Racing for example and all teams that races in Porto Cervo will have taken a step up, but after winning in Valencia our philosophy is very much ‘if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it’. I think we had a lot of things right there. I think in particular we had the sail and rig package well sorted and Adam (Beashel) and Morgan (Larson) knew Valencia well. So there is the aspect of a new venue to learn but they work very well together. It should be a more open race track than the normal Palma course area (racing is more west than the RCNP race area). We have a very good team and a very good boat but the differences are so small. Any one of five or six boats could win the title. We can treat the regatta a bit differently as we are not doing the whole season, so if we feel like giving something a go, trying something different we are maybe more open to that rather than trying to always protect the season’s points. And Niklas is raring to go. We are looking forwards to it.” Says Tim Powell, mainsheet trimmer and project manager for Rán Racing.
Eduardo de Souza Ramos’ Brazilian flagged Phoenix are expected to make their first competitive outing of the 52 SUPER SERIES season. Unfortunately the Phoenix team broke their mast in early season training and have had to wait for a replacement. Despite the lack of time of the water they have a potent combination of knowing their boat well – having raced all last season with her – and have the charismatic Italian Francesco Bruni returning to the 52 SUPER SERIES as tactician on Phoenix.
Phoenix also have world championship form, finishing runners up to Quantum Racing in Porto Cervo last year. Bruni, a long time friend and colleague of the Azzurra team, is dismayed about the withdrawl of Luna Rossa, the team he was sailing with, from the America’s Cup but now relishes the chance to race against his old friends including sparring partner Vasco Vascotto.
“It’s very nice to come back to the TP52 class seeing it so vibrant and refreshed, to see it going so well with many new boats, and a very high level, I have followed much the races and they are really very exciting. It is a class reborn with the highest level of teams.”
“I look forwards to racing with Phoenix which had a great season last year, an incredible overall finish and a second place in the worlds. This year after losing the mast early in the season there was a lot to do. The rig came only two days ago, we hope to get on the pace with the others. I’m sure it will be a great week. Vasco and I have already met with some races. They are doing very well and are the reference boat this year, I’m very happy for them, for me Azzurra has meant a lot in my career.”
And Azzurra come to Portals after winning the second regatta of the season, on their home waters of Costa Smeralda. Bruni describes them as the form boat of the season and their performance on the water confirms that. As Matador they won the TP52 world championship on the Bay of Palma in 2009, and were runners up to Quantum Racing in 2008 in Puerto Portals.
But teams like Bronenosec, Alegre, Gladiator, Platoon, Sled and Provezza have shown the potential to win a regatta. And everyone steps up their game for the world championships:
“We have such an open and competitive fleet for these world championships it is going to be fascinating to watch. And it is nice to going to Puerto Portals which has great facilities and opens on to a nice race track which should be different to the usual Bay of Palma arena.” Says Rob Weiland, class manager for the TP52 fleet. “We celebrate ten years of racing in the Med with the TP52s and it is pleasing to be back in Portals with a fleet in good health.”
The official practice race is Monday 13th July. Points racing runs Tuesday to Saturday with one day given to one windward – leeward and a short coastal round the buoys race, otherwise the programme is for windward-leeward racing.
52 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP fleet
Alegre GBR (Andy Soriano GBR)
Azzurra ITA (Alberto and Pablo Roemmers ARG)
Bronenosec RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS)
Gladiator GBR (Tony Langley GBR)
Rán Racing SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE)
Paprec FRA (Jean Luc Petithuguenin FRA)
Phoenix BRA (Eduardo De Souza Ramos BRA)
Provezza TUR (Ergin Imre TUR)
Platoon GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER)
Quantum Racing USA (Doug DeVos USA)
Sled USA (Tak Okura USA)
Xio ITA (Marco Serafini)