52 Super Series: new challenges after a super-tight finish to Menorca
Friday, June 14, 2019 2:10 PM
Four seconds was the tiny margin that stood between Ergin Imre’s Turkish-flagged Provezza and overall victory at last month’s first 52 Super Series regatta of the season in Mahón, Menorca. Had Provezza been third rather than fourth – beaten by only four seconds – then overall honours would have gone to them rather than to Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon.
Looking at how competitive and close the TP52 fleet was in Menorca, it is clear that next week’s second event the Puerto Sherry 52 SUPER SERIES Royal Cup will be just as close, if not closer. The waters open to the Atlantic off Puerto Sherry, Cádiz will be new to the 52 SUPER SERIES contestants, but it is certain that all of the eight teams competing will have raised their game, each fine-tuning their setup for the different wind and sea conditions they expect at this second of five regattas in 2019.
“Yes, absolutely, we can win,” Nacho Postigo, the Spanish navigator on Provezza commented on his arrival at the Marina Puerto Sherry, where the 52 SUPER SERIES will be based. “Our boat feels really good, it is great all round now, and after Mahón we have confidence in just about every condition, it is well tested in the light flat water, in light winds and chop, medium winds flat water, moderate winds and chop, now it is good enough in all conditions. The modifications to the boat, new keel and rudder changes and small developments to the rig, as well as the biggest change, to the crew line up, we feel that now it is down to us to sail clean and sail nicely.
So, yes, we can win here,” says Postigo with a wry grin. “But, then, so could anyone. Everyone will have reviewed their regatta in Mahón and will be back stronger and better. So much now is down to starting well and getting off the line and the first wind shift.
Both of the top two finishers, Platoon and Provezza in Mahón are Vrolijk designs.
“I think Vrolijk have got it nailed this season. Our boat feels very powerful off the start line. And what is great is that we seem to have gained what we wanted, improving on our weakness without losing what were our strengths and that really is the Holy Grail,” the Provezza navigator says.
A totally new venue to the world’s leading grand-prix monohull circuit, the racing arena off Puerto Sherry might offer a variety of conditions during this mid-June week. The racing waters are by the renowned Bay of Cádiz, to the north west of the Straits of Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediterranean.
“At this time of the year it should be good for sea breeze generation because we have quite a lot of flat land that heats up, and because here there is quite a bit of tide then the water remains that bit colder. The gradient winds are the westerly Poniente and the easterly Levante, which blow there. We could see a little bit of everything,” Postigo points out.
Platoon and Provezza top the season standings on 28 and 29 points respectively, with 2018’s defending champions Quantum Racing in third, six points off the leaders. The title holders are on the up as they constantly refine and improve their communication after making big changes to the crew line up for this season. The world champions and circuit champions were close to their best during the middle of the Mahón event, but slumped to a weighty 7,6 finish.
But, as ever, any of the eight boats that will race on the Atlantic for the prestigious Royal Cup starting next Tuesday, has an equal chance of finishing on the podium. After showing considerable promise at the pre-season warm up events, Takashi Okura’s Sled – usually very consistent podium contenders – finished in a disappointing ninth. They have bolstered their afterguard for this event with the return of Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup and TP52 Med Cup winner Ray Davies as tactician. And the international crew of this season’s brand-new build Bronenosec of Russian owner Vladimir Liubomirov also have high hopes of a moving up to a podium finish after debuting with a fifth in Menorca. They will share the helm between the owner and Croatian Olympic champion Sime Fantela as they did in Menorca.
Alberto Barovier, Bronenosec’s skipper says:
“We are very happy with the boat, but left too many points on the water. If we can just eliminate a few of these little mistakes we can see that the boat has the potential to get us on to the podium. We have made some little modifications to the boat, which will give us more speed. But there are so many teams with the same potential. We will maintain the same strategy sharing the helm between Vladimir and Sime. It allows Vladimir to learn the sensations and feel of the new boat and at the same time, Sime gets time to practice, to reach the level of the best helms in the fleet.”
The Official Practice Race for the Puerto Sherry 52 SUPER SERIES Royal Cup is on Monday, racing starting on Tuesday and running until Saturday. All of the action will be broadcast on 52 SUPER SERIES TV on the final three days of racing, with live-action streaming from the water supported by expert live commentary and comment.
Alegre – Andy Soriano (USA/GBR), 2018 Botin
Azzurra – Alberto/Pablo Roemmers (ARG/ITA), 2018 Botin
Bronenosec – Vladimir Liubomirov (RUS), 2019 Botin
Phoenix 11 – Hasso/Tina Plattner (RSA), 2018 Botin
Platoon – Harm Müller-Spreer (GER), 2018 Judel/Vrolijk
Provezza – Ergin Imre (TUR), 2018 Judel/Vrolijk
Quantum Racing – Doug DeVos (USA), 2018 Botin
Sled – Takashi Okura (USA), 2018 Botin
Overall 52 Super Series Standings After One Regatta
1. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) 28 puntos.
2. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) 29 p.
3. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) 34 p.
4. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto/Pablo Roemmers) 38 p.
5. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) 47 p.
6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) 47 p.
7. Phoenix 12 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) 50 p.
8. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) 54 p.
9. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Hasso Plattner) 65 p.
10. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) 68 p.
11. Team Vision Future (FRA) (Jean Jacques Chaubard) 70 p.