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Predicted light winds mean Rolex TP52 World Championship will be a test of metres won and lost

by 52 Super Series 22 Aug 2023 04:57 NZST 21-26 August 2023
Rolex TP52 World Championship © 52 Super Series

No official practice race was possible today at the Rolex TP52 World Championship as the light breezes off Barcelona proved insufficient to allow any meaningful sailing. Hopes are high that competition for the ten boat TP52 fleet will get under way on schedule on Tuesday.

A weekend of unofficial practice has maybe highlighted Harm Müller Spreer's double world champions Platoon, winners of the last 52 SUPER SERIES regatta in Mahon, Menorca in July as the boat to beat. The defending world champions, Quantum Racing powered by American Magic, have Terry Hutchinson back in the hot seat as tactician, stepping in with new, young stars of the future, Harry Melges IV as helmsman, Victor Diaz de Leon as tactician while young Italian Nico Sanfelici is in as navigator through to the end of the season at least.

"I have a little bit of nervous trepidation." Hutchinson acknowledges, "With the guys on the boat we have a very high standard we race to to achieve and the guys at two of three regattas this season have already had podium finishes, so here the expectation is no different. We want to make each day better than the day before and there is a lot in that. We have this new afterguard and it will be the first time I have raced with Harry, the first time I will have raced with Victor and with Nico and so we have a lot of refinement to do. But our bread and butter is, as it has been over the years, that our boat handling is good and the boat-speed side of it is good. But every one is fast and everybody is good. So we really need to be on par with the other nine boats."

Hutchinson explained on the dock at Barcelona's Marina Vela where the Rolex TP52 World Championship is based.

He believes they can follow the same day by day strategy that worked last year when thy triumphed in Cascais, Portugal, "This is a five day regatta and it is about managing the energy levels to get to Saturday so you have an opportunity to be successful. When you reflect back on Cascais last year (where they won the 2022 world title) it was an atypical week there, 80 per cent of the time on J1 and J1.5s. There we did a good job of managing the racing and managing the averages each day and we will be trying to do the same, but our expectations might not match how mature we are as an afterguard and so we are going to have to work very hard on both sides."

Phoenix rising?

There have been encouraging signs from last year's circuit runners up Phoenix, who finished just 12 points overall behind circuit champions Quantum Racing over the five 2022 regattas, but who have had a lacklustre start to this season. America's Cup winning veteran Ed Baird is back with the South African flagged team for this Rolex TP52 World Championship which Kiwi strategist Cameron Dunn believes the Phoenix team can win.

"We can win it. We win it if we sail well." Dunn says, but, in the next breath, cautions, "But we can finish ninth or tenth if we don't. There is no reason why we can't. No team becomes a bad team overnight. But it takes starting well, if we can off the start line 80 per cent of the time you know you have a good chance of a top three or four. We have had some nice starts in training over the weekend. Ed is such an experienced guy, he knows the fleet he knows the boats and tends to be relatively low risk, which is not a bad thing. That gets you consistency and consistency will win this regatta. This regatta will be a battle of metres here and there, it will be mainly light airs, not super shifty, one or two metres here and there can make the difference between a first or second at the top mark and a ninth or tenth."

Light winds start to the week

Through the first days of racing winds are expected to be light, with a seabreeze expected to come in later in the afternoon, whilst more breeze is expected for the decisive final days, Friday and Saturday.

"The first two days will be late and light, around 1500hrs but by the end of the week maybe 10-12kts so really we have our fingers crossed." Maria Torrijo, Principal Race Officer explains.

Navigator on Sled the 2021 Rolex TP52 World Champions, Andrea Visintini confirms, "The long term forecast shows a light regatta for the first three days and then there maybe something happening Friday and Saturday but really the models are quite unsure but it will be light for the next couple of days. Based on how we have sailed over the last days we like this scenario. Mr Okura steers the boat very well in the light conditions and flat water. And so it looks good."

Racing has been postponed one hour, until 1400hrs Tuesday in view of the light conditions.

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