Harm Müller Spreer and Team Platoon are the 2019 Rolex TP52 World Champions!!

August 30, 2019

Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon team won the Rolex TP52 World Championship title on the Bay of Palma, but the German-flagged team, led by the Hamburg-based owner-driver, on the final day did not make it easy for themselves as they had to contend with two additional penalty points that they were given for twice making contact with rival boats as well as two penalties for different infringements during a tense, nervy showdown with Azzurra.

But Platoon’s unerring consistency during Wednesday’s three races, a fantastic showcase of speed and agility in a brisk offshore northwesterly wind, was enough for Müller-Spreer’s super solid, tight-knit team to emerge with their second Rolex TP52 World Championship title in three years, winning over Azzurra by two points. 

That day Platoon took control of the title race. They posted two first places and a fifth to lead the championship by seven points going into the final day. They did start each of the three races on the back foot, forced each time to climb through the fleet. Unfortunately Takashi Okura’s Sled did not manage to capitalise from their position at the top of the world championship standings after two days. Two penalties sent them to fifth overall, 19 points distant from Azzurra, second going into the final day and still very much in contention for the world title but needing something to derail Platoon’s train of consistency. Wednesday’s north westerly breeze was something of a pleasant surprise for most of the teams that had expected to race in a light, standard, Bay of Palma sea breeze. The offshore breeze was pleasingly steady in mean direction but phased left and right to present plenty of opportunities for place changes. Azzurra’s Olympic champion Santi Lange reported: “Platoon did really well to be patient to position themselves geometrically to get an advantage when the leading boats are going at each other, to protect their places. They are really smart in positioning themselves and they can catch up in critical situations, it was really good to watch. I suffer more with the offshore breeze, but I think we are better. You suffer more because you have the responsibility of the team, and some positions can be painful, but I enjoy more this racing than the typical sea breeze day. But tomorrow with the sea breeze. we have the potential to sail well, but my hat off to Platoon who are sailing so well at the moment.”

Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec sailed a 6 and 3 before winning the third race, which moved them to third on the regatta rankings. Morgan Larson, their tactician, commented: “We probably got a little too conservative in our starting and tactics today, though we managed to get it right in the last race. Even if it was maybe our worst position 5 minutes into the race, we chipped our way through it.
It was a tough track because everyone had the feeling that the right was good. So if you weren’t leading you had to get a lane a little bit left and then it seemed like the left was actually working pretty well. So that compressed the fleet. I think our boat is probably modded a little bit more up-range; everyone else set themselves up for Palma, 8-12 knots of wind, and we thought we were right, but we’re realistically better in the 10-14, so today we had some legs, which was nice when the breeze came up.”

Then Platoon followed up Wednesday’s hot streak with a decidedly disappointing 8,9. But Azzurra fared only a little better sailing to sixth in the first race and then seemingly unable to shake off Platoon for eighth in the second race. But the Roemmers’ family team, which sails under the burgee of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, heads to their home club in Sardinia, Italy for next month’s circuit finale carrying a healthy seven-point lead. 

Relief was the emotion most evident on the face of Muller-Spreer as he stepped ashore on the dock in the Marina de Portals, Puerto Portals, after the final race. The three-time Dragon Gold Cup winner admitted: “We shot ourselves in the feet a few too many times today but it feels great to win. Winning the title twice in three years say a lot about this team I think.”

Müller-Spreer smiled: “On a day like this you absolutely have to keep your heads up that’s all, the race isn’t over until it’s over. You could see it today as well; so many windshifts; so everything could have happened in that race.”

Winning tactician John Kostecki added: “We have a great team, we’ve been sailing together now for three years, but we’ve never been in this position before – with a nice lead going into the last day – so we’re going to learn from this and we’re going to be an even better team now. I’m really looking forward to the next regatta in Porto Cervo. It’s different sailing in the lead, you do probably do things differently, but we’re really happy it’s turned out well. We have a great team, really good teamwork and energy on board and we’re gonna rely on our team and our teamwork to beat Azzurra in Porto Cervo.”

Helmsman on Azzurra Guillermo Parada admitted: “It is a shame for us. It was a day full of opportunities and we failed to take advantage. We started ahead of them in both races. We put a penalty on them in the first one and we never positioned ourselves to take advantage of that. They made a lot of mistakes, but once more, here we are, second by two points. There are some times you might be happy with that result if you feel like you did your best, but we did not do our best. And that is a strange feeling because in reality we took a lot of points back, but in reality we gave a away a big opportunity to become world champions. We need to put our heads together now and make sure that when we finish in Porto Cervo we are at least one point ahead of second!”

Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec took third, their first podium finish at the Rolex TP52 World Championship, after competing in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019:
“It was a really hard day. We made some mistakes but we did enough in the second race to take third. We made some good calls downwind. But it is a great team effort. It is important for us but it is important to see how our team is working. We are pretty consistent on the race course and the results. We can still play in Porto Cervo.”

Ergin Imre’s Provezza lost its rig during the first race of the championship. A great team effort resulted in the spare rig being brought from Valencia that same night and assembled and stepped the next day. The team then produced the best score of the final two days with 3,7,3,1,3. Very satisfactory of course but what if?

Rolex TP52 World Championship Puerto Portals 2019
Final regatta standings
1. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (4,5,2,3,1,1,5,8,9,2 PEN) 40 p.
2. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (2,9,4,5,2,4,2,6,8) 42 p.
3. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) (5,8,3,6,6,3,1,7,4) 43 p.
4. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (9,1,1,2,9,10,8,4,1) 45 p.
5. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (10,4,5,1,8,2,6,3,7) 46 p.
6. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (1,7,8,4,4,7,9,2,5) 47 p.
7. Phoenix 12 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) (3,3,7,7,5,5,11,5,6) 52 p.
8. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Hasso Plattner) (8,2,9,9,11,8,4,10,2) 63 p.
9. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (12 DNF,12 DNC,12 DNC,12 DNC,3,7,3,1,3) 65 p.
10. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (6,10,6,8,7,9,11,9,11) 77 p.
11. Team Vision Future (FRA) (Jean Jacques Chaubard) (7,6,10,10,10,6,10,11,10) 80 p.

Overall season standings after four events
1. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto/Pablo Roemmers) 133 puntos.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) 139 p.
3. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) 144 p.
4. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) 150 p.
5. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) 159 p.
6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) 175 p.
7. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) 202 p.
8. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) 203 p.