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Rolex TP52 World Championship Barcelona - Day 3

by 52 Super Series 25 Aug 2023 06:40 NZST 21-26 August 2023

Winners of two of the season's three regattas so far, 2023's circuit leaders Ergin Imré's Turkish flagged Provezza made the strongest start to the Rolex TP52 World Championship today in Barcelona where three races were sailed in a light to moderate SSW'ly breeze.

After missing two days because of insufficient breezes as the worlds finally got under way Provezza once more showed the high level of consistency which is becoming their 2023 hallmark, returning 5,3,1 for the day to lead the 10 boat fleet by two points ahead of Tony Langley's British flagged Gladiator whilst Andy Soriano's Alegre lie third, just one point behind their second placed compatriots.

In the light breezes and flat water the speeds in this very closely matched, highly optimised TP52 fleet are very, very close. And so, just as was predicted before the championship by many of the afterguards, positions changes were all about by only small metres gained and lost around the three windward-leeward courses.

Defending world champions Quantum Racing powered by American Magic, welcoming back talisman Terry Hutchinson for the week as tactician in their new, 'young blood' lineup, started modestly with a ninth but showed encouraging signs in race 2 where they fought back for a fourth. But they were fouled in the third race which dropped them from a potential fourth or fifth to a seventh placed finish which sees them lying eighth overall.

And winners of the Royal Cup in Menorca last month, double world champions Platoon made a positive opening by winning the first race. After a fifth they led the event after two races but then two successive penalties for rules infringements, resulted in a ninth and Harm Müller-Spreer's team drop to fourth, six points off Provezza's leading aggregate.

Race 1

The first race started in around 8 to 10 knots. The fleet was bunched toward the top half of the line with Gladiator nailing the time and distance to start at the gun at the boat. Tony Langley's team tacked almost immediately, signaling an intense desire to own the right hand side. While Vayu, which started to leeward of the fleet and held on starboard, held the early lead on the tracker, it was Gladiator and Platoon going 1-2 around the first mark, with Alegre in third and Vayu fourth.

Halfway down the run Gladiator appeared to try a dummy jibe to shake a closing Platoon, which didn't bite and just kept eating into the lead. At the bottom mark, Platoon had closed enough to force Gladiator to the unfavored offshore gate and the German boat took over the lead. From there Harm Muller-Spreer's team extended away, rounding the final mark with a comfortable lead and cruising down the run with Gladiator, Alegre and Vayu all holding serve. There were a few changes in the minor placings. Provezza finished fifth in front of Sled. And Phoenix, which was ninth around the first two marks, moved up to seventh. Quantum Racing was eighth, Interlodge ninth and Alpha + 10th.

Race 2

There was less consensus among the fleet as to the best place to start for Race 2. While Gladiator and Quantum Racing battled for the right side, the leaders at the top mark came out of the middle with Sled taking a commanding advantage at the first turn, followed by Phoenix and Provezza. Quantum Racing and Gladiator rounded in ninth and 10th. But there was still plenty of opportunity left as the breeze was a little more unsettled both in terms of direction and velocity.

Takasi Okura's Sled extended away from the fleet to take a wire to wire win, but there was plenty of excitement behind. Phoenix briefly lost second after pushing the spinnaker drop right up to the leeward gate and putting the sail into the drink, albeit briefly. Provezza took second, but wasn't able to hold its advantage. Phoenix found a little extra speed on the second upwind leg to reclaim second, which it held to the finish with Provezza finishing third. Meanwhile Quantum Racing charged from ninth to seventh by playing the right side of the course on the first run, and then continued to climb, rounding the second windward mark in fifth and playing a left shift late on the second run into a very solid fourth place. Platoon had a more difficult race, but still finished fifth. Gladiator separated from the fleet on the second beat and jumped from 10th to sixth. Alegre finished seventh, with Interlodge, Vayu and Alpha + rounding out the results. Alpha + had a heartbreaker of a race, holding fourth until the second windward mark when they got caught on a shy lay line and had to tack and duck a lineup of five boats.

Race 3

The breeze seemed much the same as the previous two races, southerly in the 9 to 11 knot range and the fleet charged off the line in sync, first on starboard and then, after a few minutes on port. The virtual lead shifted from the right side of the course to the left where Gladiator again make a bold call and rounded first, trailed closely by Alegre then Vayu and Provezza. The regatta leaders heading into the race, Platoon and Sled were both shut out at the windward mark and rounded ninth and 10th respectively.

Provezza took control of the race on the run, jibing away early and finding some pressure and/or a beneficial shift to the left of the other leaders. The Turkish boat would not be caught. The top three boats from the first mark each dropped a place, but were able to hold position for the rest of the race. Alpha +, after the heartbreak of the previous race, rounded each mark in fifth and finished there.

Phoenix finished sixth, and Quantum Racing American Magic was seventh. Sled took eighth with Platoon ninth and Interlodge, which was whistled for a foul for taking room inside of Quantum Racing at the leeward mark, took 10th.

And while Provezza hold the early lead in the Rolex TP52 World Championship, today they also increased their lead on the 2023 circuit standings to 25 points.

"It was pretty tough on a long three race day in this heat and with such a level of competition but we managed to put in a solid day we are happy with. The team is really dong their jobs really well. Nothing has changed here in our approach, we try to do the same things, take the same mindset on to the water and we are quick upwind and down, really our objective is to make good decisions take few risks and really, really let the boat do the work. Today we felt very quick downwind, but overall we have nothing to complain about." Said Provezza's Argentine strategist Cole Parada whose brother Guille steers second placed Gladiator.

"Again it is great to see Gladiator doing well but on the water he is just another rival like anyone else." Cole smiles.

Quantum Racing's Terry Hutchinson reported, "You don't win races off the start line but you can certainly lose races there and two of the three races we started really poorly. That was unfortunate and high marks to the team for just keeping their heads down and sailing the boat. We were unlucky to get fouled very badly in the last race around the gate mark. That cost us a lot. The foul set us outside in people's dirty air it was so bad we went from a fourth to seventh. It is hard. There we were doing the right thing and the guys were sailing the boat really well, Harry was steering well, the boat speed was good and I need to do my job better, it is no more complicated than that."

Rolex TP52 World Championship, Barcelona Results: (after 3 races)

1- PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 5+3+1 = 9pts
2- GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 2+7+2=11pts
3- ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 3+6+3 = 12pts
4- PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 1+5+9+= 15pts
5- SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 6+1+8= 15pts
6- PHOENIX (RSA) Hasso Plattner 7+2+6+=15pts
7- VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 4+9+4+=17pts
9- ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn and Tina Kang, 10+10+5=25pts
10- INTERLODGE (USA) Augustin & Gwen Fragomen - 9+8+10=27pts

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