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Debutant’s Phoenix Challenging for Zadar Royal Cup Crown

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Debutant’s Phoenix Challenging for Zadar Royal Cup Crown
Debutant’s Phoenix Challenging for Zadar Royal Cup Crown

Tina Plattner, Ed Baird and the crew of 2018 52 SUPER SERIES debutants Phoenix have given themselves a fighting chance of winning the second circuit regatta of the season after delivering another consistent, low scoring day at the Zadar Royal Cup in Croatia. If she could steer the new generation Botin design to overall victory and leave closest rivals Platoon and Luna Rossa in the shade, she would mark a hatful of ‘firsts’, including being the first female helm ever to win a TP52 circuit regatta and the first helm to triumph at their first ever 52 SUPER SERIES regatta as well as being the first ever South African team to win on the world’s leading grand prix circuit.

As she stepped from the Phoenix to enjoy the ‘sundowner’ at Zadar’s D-Marin Dalmacija’s chic Portus Beach Club, which is as much part of her personal decompression routine as the hard and fast performance processes that America’s Cup winner Ed Baird has helped establish among the hugely experienced crew, Plattner remains quietly low key, bubbling with enthusiasm at already having wildly exceeded all her expectations.

“There’ll be no more than two drinks and go to bed early tonight.” She grins, “We will take tomorrow the same as we’ve taken every other day. We’ll go out there, we’ll have fun, and just take it a race at a time.”

Across two very different races today – one in a gentle NW’ly and a second in a brisker, exciting 15 to 20kts strong thermal – Phoenix finished fourth in the first contest and then won the breezier race. Their five points aggregate for the day was only matched by three times champions Quantum Racing, the winners of last month’s season opener in Šibenik, just down the coast. With Harm Müller-Spreer’s world champions Platoon racking up 14 pts for the day, and Luna Rossa 12, the Plattner family’s Phoenix leads into Sunday’s finale by three points over Platoon, and five on Luna Rossa.

Of their strategy for Sunday’s showdown with two of the circuit’s big guns, Baird cautions:

“We have to see what kind of day it is, so far every day has been a little different. There’s been strange things going on out there. Nobody is familiar with this race course so we’re just trying to not make too many mistakes.”

Baird has been decisive, but measured in their choices on a challenging new race area teams. They have stayed out of trouble and the boat handling has been well up to scratch, commensurate with an outfit that benefited from 10 hard days of two boat training and tuning before early May’s PalmaVela regatta and the Šibenik regatta, which father Hasso steered.

Luna Rossa dropped from the regatta leadership to third after their two weakest results of the event, tactician Vasco Vascotto explaining:

“The reality is that we sailed worse than usual. The last race I think is the first time in the season that we lost boats, we slipped down the fleet, but the first race was okay, we made a couple of mistakes but this can happen, it was very shifty today. The last race we missed opportunities. This is the game though and tomorrow we need to go on the water and learn from the lessons that we had today and try to make it a little better.”

Andy Soriano’s Alegre team won their first race of the season on the Alegre when they passed Gladiator at the top of the final run, while Phoenix once more timed their passage to gain the right of the first beat well and enjoyed a good early advantage.

Tina Plattner revealed,

“It is quite a daunting fleet to try to come and step into for the first time. You should have seen us last week all eight of them were saying ‘don’t be so nervous it’ll be okay!”

And of helping to settle the driver’s butterlflies Baird explains:

“That’s a matter of just making sure we’re ready for the situations that come up. We tried really hard in Palma and before this event here to just go through as many of the situations that we could and put Tina in the pressure positions and kept saying to her and the whole team ‘this whole sport is about making mistakes, we’re going to make mistakes, it’s just about making a few less than the other guys. You have to realise you can’t put the pressure on yourself to be perfect. It’s never going to happen. We’re not perfect at all, there’s lots of things we can do better, but we’re good enough at the moment to be doing well.”

The 52 SUPER SERIES Zadar Royal Cup will take place from 20-24 June. State-of-the-art live boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams every day of the regatta, with LIVE images broadcast on the final three days. Shows start 15-minutes before racing, and can be enjoyed via the 52 SUPER SERIES homepage – www.52SUPERSERIES.com – or via the app. Never miss a beat.

Tina Plattner (RSA) and Ed Baird (USA) on Phoenix:

Why is it going so well?

Ed – Because Tina has listened, paid attention, learned, and is doing a fantastic job now on the race course and we have a great team behind her that’s making it work!

Tina – Ed makes some really good decisions, tells me where to go along with Paul, it’s the team, we have a really good team on the boat, we just go out there and have fun and try anew every single time we go out. It is quite a daunting fleet to try to come and step into for the first time. You should have seen us last week all 8 of then were saying ‘don’t be so nervous it’ll be okay!”

What’s the hardest part out there, aside from minimising mistakes?

Tina – staying focused for the whole hour of the race from the pre-start to the end, and never doubting that what Im being told is the right thing, keep on looking at the sails and keep going forward and listening to Ed and Paul and trust them that what they’re telling me is what I’m meant to do. 

Vasco Vascotto (ITA) tactician Luna Rossa (ITA):

What’s the strategy for tomorrow?

Vasco – “Tomorrow we need to just go sailing nicely, as we did earlier. I think we have better speed than we did in Sibenik – the young guys are getting better every day and the old guys are unfortunately getting older and older every day… this is the game!

Luna Rossa training program?

Vasco – “I lost some kilos, am getting fitter and stronger every day, we all are.”

What are you thoughts about Phoenix?

Vasco – “Phoenix is doing great but it’s not a surprise for me, Ed is a very smart, experienced guy – he is older than me [laughs] – and he is doing a nice job, the boat is fast, and in this kind of shifts it’s just a matter of sailing well around the course and he is doing fantastic. I hope tomorrow he will make a couple more mistakes so we can be in front.”

Victor Mariño (ESP) Platoon (GER):

Victor – “Today was tough because it was very unstable wind and big shifts, we had good starts but in the end we were not so lucky or didnt choose exactly the right places so in the end we were spit out, but it was not too bad because we recovered in the end. It was a difficult day of racing and to not be last or second last is a really good result for everyone in the competition. These channels are so narrow, with the islands, the breeze, the mountains, the right to left, the picture can change in ten minutes. If you are on the wrong side because the left was paying originally than you are lost (or last!). Tomorrow the forecast will be very similar, so it will be tricky. At the moment every race counts, not just for this overall regatta but for the overall series result. Also, everything is practice for Cascais, the worlds, so the strategy is not only to look at the results here of the racing, but to learn about the boat and keep learning.”

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