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52 SUPER SERIES: Hardcore in Cascais, Portugal

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52 Super Series
52 Super Series

As the 2018 52 SUPER SERIES moves to Atlantic waters off Cascais, Portugal, any one of the nine teams competing at the Rolex TP52 World Championship would be entirely justified in harbouring a hope of winning the world title. Such is the universally high standard among the nine all-new 2018-built fleet that it would be no surprise at all if any one of these teams lift the world title.

Even last year on the back of two consecutive second places in the US season openers, the Rolex TP52 World Championship form book pointed to the uber-consistent Platoon as the team most likely to win. And so it was in Scarlino, Tuscany, Harm Müller-Spreer and his solid international team, which flies the flag for Germany, lifted the 2017 world championship title.

As the circuit was bidding farewell to the gentle sea breezes, smooth water and enclosed arenas of Croatia last month, there was already of mood of anticipation building up, relishing the prospect of a return to Cascais’ open waters and brisker breezes. And as the TP52s were being de-rigged, the dockside talk in Zadar was that Cascais will really prove which team has their new boat fully sorted, and also that the sometimes tricky sea conditions will favour the pro-drivers over the owner-drivers.

Müller-Spreer comments:

There is no pressure really. We come as world champions and just hope to do better than Germany’s football team in the World Cup. In Zadar, we were a little like England in their semi-final, we started well, but then were not good. But we have made some changes to the boat for the stronger winds and the waves expected in Cascais, and are looking forward to it.”

Since the pinnacle world regatta – the Rolex TP52 Global Championship – was inaugurated 12 years ago in Miami, Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing have won the Rolex global – or world – title five times: in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2016. The Roemmers family’s Azzurra – or its predecessor Matador – have won twice: in 2009 and 2015.

On Quantum Racing, Dean Barker returns to the helm in Cascais, returning to the afterguard set up that won the first regatta of the season, the Šibenik 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week. They lead the circuit standings by just four points from Sled and Platoon, who are each level on 77 points.

We feel very confident,” says Quantum Racing’s director, Ed Reynolds, “We have sailed a lot in Cascais over the years. We know the waters and what to expect and so we just need to go out and execute. Dean will be steering and I think in Cascais there can be a huge dividend for the more experienced pro driver. We are expecting stronger breezes and bigger seas and we know the direction to go in compared with Croatia, which was much more like ‘bay racing’ – that is to say you had to go to the edges of the course. And that is not the way we sail.

Reynolds is unequivocal that Quantum Racing will be gunning for the title.

The world title is important in our world. I always think the season title is about consistent excellence over a variety of conditions in different venues. The worlds is about the one regatta. And this time I think all nine teams have a legitimate claim on the world title.”

If there is one team “knocking on the door” that might be considered to be in a similar position to Platoon at this – pre-worlds – stage last year, it would be Takashi Okura’s Sled, which finished third in Šibenik and third in Zadar. Sled have proven very consistent under the new afterguard of America’s Cup winner Ray Davies and strategist Adam Beashel and appear to have an excellent all-round package. But Kiwi mainsheet trimmer Don Cowie plays down any talk of Sled going for the title.

Our goal is the season, first and foremost,” emphasises Cowie, “If we were to win in Cascais, that would be a bonus. We don’t look to peak at big events, we focus on just trying to keep up this consistency. This is a truly exceptional field, and our aim is to just stay in the money. We had good light-winds speed in Croatia, but we have always felt confident in the stronger breeze.”

Twice world champions Azzurra are looking to this Rolex TP52 World Championship to get their season back on track after a lacklustre start. The 2017 52 SUPER SERIES champions are 25pts behind the circuit leaders Quantum Racing after two events.

It is a great opportunity for us to go there and win the World Championship,” says Azzurra skipper-helm Guillermo Parada. “We have made a bad start to our season, and this is the chance to get it back where it should be. There are different reasons why we have not been good. We are paying a little bit for our change in crew. We were not so good in the light winds and flat water, and we had some mechanical breakdowns that cost us. So we are looking forward to Cascais where we are comfortable. We expect more breeze, we enjoy the breeze, and are normally good as we have shown through the years. We have a good crew and if we sail clean we can do it.”

But perhaps the impetus is with Luna Rossa, the Italian America’s Cup team that won the Zadar 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week when under pressure from Hasso and Tina Plattner’s Phoenix. Hasso Plattner returns to the helm of Phoenix for his first tilt at the Rolex TP52 World Championship. But equally Andy Soriano’s Alegre showed improving form in Zadar, as did Ergin Imre’s Provezza, while the Brazilian team in Eduardo de Souza Ramos’s Onda have the credentials, and the hardware to win.

All of the action from the Rolex TP52 World Championship 2018 will be broadcast live throughout the whole regatta on 52 SUPER SERIES TV with live commentary and comment through each race. Shows start 15 minutes before racing is due to begin.

Entries:
Alegre – Andy Soriano (USA/GBR), 2018 Botin
Azzurra – Roemmers Family (ARG/ITA), 2018 Botin
Luna Rossa – Patrizio Bertelli (ITA), 2018 Botin
Onda – Eduardo de Souza Ramos (BRA), 2018 Botin
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

2018 52 SUPER SERIES Overall Standings After Two Events:
1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) 73 p. 
2. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) 77 p.
3. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) 77 p. 
4. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) 81 p.
5. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) 91 p. 
6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) 96 p. 
7. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Roemmers Family) 98 p. 
8. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) 103 p. 
9. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) 110 p.
10. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) 128 p.
11. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) 136 p.