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52 SUPER SERIES: maintaining momentum, taking opportunities

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52 SUPER SERIES
52 SUPER SERIES

Eleven teams will compete on Croatia’s beautiful waters off Zadar at the second 52 SUPER SERIES regatta of the season, challenging for the historic Royal Cup, one of the most sought after pieces of historic silverware available to the TP52 fleet

The Royal Cup was originally inaugurated for the IMS 50 class, considered to the forerunners to the TP52, by esteemed international owners Pasqual Landolfi, George Andreadis, King Harald and Willi Ilbruck. It has been raced for by the 52 SUPER SERIES since 2012 when it was first won in Palma by Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing. Since then it has been won twice by Quantum Racing and once by Azzurra. The Italian-Argentine team skippered by Guillermo Parada won the Royal Cup in Miami last March en route to winning the 2017 52 SUPER SERIES.

But when the Zadar Royal Cup begins next Tuesday, with the Official Practice Race, the champions Azzurra will be focused on reducing the 17-point deficit they already have against Quantum Racing on the overall leaderboard. If they were to retain the Royal Cup, then by definition, they would certainly achieve that goal.

Azzurra finished fourth in Šibenik, weighted down especially by two consecutive 10th places, which they landed early in May’s curtain raiser. Despite having prepared well, winning the PalmaVela warm-up regatta, they were not able to deliver on that potential in the white heat of the full 12-boat fleet in full race mode. It was evident that it is taking some time for the championship winning team to adapt to the different style of new tactician, Rio Olympic champion, Santiago Lange. His approach is slightly more collaborative than the fiery, intuitive Vasco Vascotto. Lange’s positioning and his tactical calls were second-to-none on the race course, but there appeared to be still some improvements to be made, off the start line in particular.

“I need to keep improving. I made mistakes and I always expect more from myself. The crew expect more from me and I expect more from them. We need to improve our communication together,” says Olympic champion, Lange.

While time on the race course in Šibenik and the subsequent debrief should lead to an improvement in Azzurra’s performance next week in Zadar – which lies some 60kms up the coast from Šibenik; there is something of a challenge for Quantum Racing as they seek to smoothly integrate owner Doug DeVos into the hot seat, taking over as helm from Dean Barker. The 2018 circuit leaders Quantum Racing are past masters in the art and science of bringing their hugely experienced owner on board as helm. DeVos is always pushed hard by the redoubtable perfectionist Terry Hutchinson, tactician, and expect nothing less than the toughest, most direct straight talking from Hutchinson and the team.

“It is always impressive the way Doug slots in and how the crew never consider bringing Doug in as anything of an excuse just because Doug cannot commit to any more regattas than he does presently. But this is an exposure for us, for us there are nerves for sure, it all about everyone focusing and trying to make sure there are no big mistakes,” explains Quantum Racing’s Ed Reynolds.

“But it is a big switch for Doug to move from running a huge multinational company to steering the Quantum Racing and being berated by Terry. But Doug is a competitive athlete himself and he wants to win as much as Terry does. He is used to what we might call the American coaching style which is more in your face. There is nothing personal.”

DeVos, who has not raced since Menorca, flies in to Zadar on Monday and will sail from midday with the team that won in Šibenik, with Dean Barker stepping in to the role of strategist.

Azzurra’s Lange – a six times Olympian with three medals – says the fact that there is a change to the Quantum Racing afterguard is not something he has, or will consider as any kind of weakness or opportunity.

“In all my racing I always just focus on myself or our team. I analyse my racing and look to see how I can get better. Here we do the same. I think we can be optimistic going into Zadar. We made a couple of big mistakes early on. We have worked on them and why they happened. We have worked hard since then and will use the pre-regatta training period well.”

The first regatta of the season underlined how open the competition is. Particularly impressive were Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon, which finished second overall; Takashi Okura’s Sled, which missed out on second by virtue of a 10th in the last race and 12th in the first race; and Eduardo de Souza Ramos’s Brazilian team on Onda, who drew considerable plaudits not just for their fifth place overall, but for the way five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt positioned them on the race course and for their all round speed in the conditions.

Reynolds continues:

“For me they were very impressive. Robert is an iconic, classic expert in one design racing, and the first rule is ‘be fast’. I think they have done that very well. And thereafter… minimise doing stupid stuff. And they did that well too. As a fan, I would group Robert with Terry Hutchinson, and with John Kostecki in having the full quiver: make sure you have boatspeed, always evaluate your game and be strong tactically. Onda are going well.”

Germany’s World Champion owner-driver Harm Müller-Spreer is one who considers his team have proven ready to take any opportunity, to get back on terms, or even step ahead, as Quantum Racing transition to DeVos on the helm. Platoon’s second-place scoreline in Šibenik included a tenth from the penultimate race, but otherwise they were typically consistent and made few errors.

Müller-Spreer said:

“I think we went well in the light winds in Šibenik, and it will be similar in Zadar so I think we are in good shape. I would love to win the Royal Cup because we have not won it before, but others would love to win it too.”

Yet to hit their best form, but whom could be podium contenders this regatta, are the likes of Ergin Imre’s new Provezza, who showed good speed potential but, was upset by too many minor breakdowns and glitches in Šibenik; and the debuting Luna Rossa for whom that was their first ever competitive outing together. Luna Rossa were noticeably better towards the end of the regatta, starting better and sailing faster. As the last boat to be launched with the shortest prep time, they were visibly behind the baseline when they started out.

“We always want to do better, and we should have done better in Šibenik. But the truth is that we are a new boat, and a new group. Overall it was a good performance for our first time out. The main thing is that we were always catching and our speed was OK. The afterguard made some mistakes, which is normal, and if we had started better we would have saved some points,” says Francesco Bruni, Luna Rossa.

“We are still at the stage where the sailing team are melting together to form a unit. And to be fair, in Šibenik, we were tired – the sailing team and the shore team – as it had been non-stop to get the boat ready and get sailing, and we paid some price for that. So I am sure in Zadar we can be better. Out best was downwind when we made points and generally we were good in the light. When the breeze came up we were not so good. By the end of the week we were going OK, and we are inspired by our third on the last day.”

Eleven TP52 teams will race at the 52 SUPER SERIES Zadar Royal Cup where conditions are expected to be very similar to Šibenik. Racing is billed to start each day at 1200hrs CEST. From Day 3 onward, all of the action will be broadcast live from the water and streamed on 52 SUPER SERIES TV supported by pre and post race commentary and analysis. Shows will begin 15 minutes before racing is due to start.

Entries:

Alegre – Andy Soriano (USA/GBR), 2018 Botin
Azzurra – Alberto Roemmers (ARG/ITA), 2018 Botin
Gladiator – Tony Langley (GBR), 2016 Botin
Luna Rossa – Patrizio Bertelli (ITA), 2018 Botin
Onda – Eduardo de Souza Ramos (BRA), 2018 Botin
Paprec Recyclage – Jean Luc Petithuguenin (FRA), 2015 Vrolijk
Phoenix – Hasso/Tina Plattner (RSA), 2018 Botin
Platoon – Harm Müller-Spreer (GER), 2018 Vrolijk
Provezza – Ergin Imre (TUR), 2018 Vrolijk
Quantum Racing – Racing Doug DeVos (USA), 2018 Botin
Sled – Takashi Okura (USA), 2018 Botin

Overall standings after one regatta:

1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (4,1,8,1,4,1,3,7) 29 p.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,4,3,5,7,3,10,1) 34 p. 
3. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (12,3,1,8,3,2,2,10) 41 p.
4. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (3,10,10,4,2,7,4,6) 46 p.
5. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (2,7,5,3,10,6,8,5) 46 p. 
6. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (7,5,9,9,5,4,7,3) 49 p. 
7. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (9,8,6,2,8,8,6,4) 51 p. 
8. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (8,6,11,6,6,11,5,2) 55 p. 
9. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (5,9,4,7,12,9,1,9) 56 p. 
10. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (6,12,2,12,1,10,9,12) 64 p. 
11. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (10(+2 PEN),2,7,11,9,5,12,8) 66 p. 
12. XIO Hurakan (ITA) (Marco Serafini) (11,11,12,10,11,12,11,11) 89 p.

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