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Rolex TP52 World Championship: A prize for perseverance

by Quinag 28 Aug 2023 20:01 NZST 21-26 August 2023
Platoon from Germany, Overall Winner of the Rolex TP52 World Championship © Kurt Arrigo

The 2023 edition of the Rolex TP52 World Championship brought together 10 teams from seven nations and four continents in Barcelona, Spain, to compete for the one of the most sought after prizes in sailing. At the end of an exacting series that demanded patience, determination and skill, the German team Platoon, led by owner/helm Harm Müller-Spreer, won its third world title demonstrating an exceptional ability to deliver under pressure on an epic final day.

The Rolex TP52 World Championship is the highlight of the 52 SUPER SERIES, the world's premier monohull Grand Prix racing circuit. The TP52 is a 52 foot (15.85 metre) full carbon fibre racing yacht at the forefront of the sport. Rolex has been the title sponsor of the world championship, and the official timepiece of the 52 SUPER SERIES, since 2017 as part of a proud partnership with the world of sailing stretching back six decades.

The 10 competing teams were all led by passionate owners accustomed to success in their working life and united by a love of the sport and its values. Competitive by nature, their crews comprise the elite sailing talent required to race at this elevated level. Seamanship, teamwork and consistency are indispensable elements to shine in a competition that can be won or lost in the instant of a tactical decision or a manoeuvre.

Platoon's veteran tactician, Vasco Vascotto, distilled what makes the difference in an evenly matched fleet:

"With top level crews, ninety per cent of the tactical calls are very similar. It is the details that makes the difference."

Those details come from leading figures in the sailing spectrum such as Santiago Lange, coach to Ergin Imre's Turkish Provezza team. The legendary triple Olympic medallist from Argentina is an exceptional observer:

"Above all, it is one hundred per cent teamwork. Each member is an expert in their field, each has their own opinion, and it is the ability to channel this exchange of information that allows the team to grow and achieve its goals."

Every part of the machine has to work perfectly, to perform its function and ensure perfect movement. Information is the oil that guarantees the smooth functioning of each part.

The format of the Rolex TP52 World Championship is simple: in each race teams score points according to their position on the finish line. Every race counts and team with the lowest cumulative score at the end of the series is the winner. This formula, as fair as it is ruthless, demands maximum effort and punishes the slightest error.

Five teams managed to score first places across the eight races proving the quality of the fleet, however it requires more than exceptional moments of brilliance to secure a world championship. Those that aspire to the overall title exhibit consistency in concentration and perseverance in the pursuit of excellence.

A lack of wind at the start of the championship compressed the scheduled programme of five days of competition into just three. When the wind arrived it delivered competition of the highest order testing the resilience and determination of the crews.

The eventual winner was decided on a thrilling final leg of the last race when Platoon overcame two rivals to take the title by a single point from arch-rival throughout the week, Provezza. Müller-Spreer was thrilled with the achievement:

"It feels great, it's not something you can do easily. To achieve world titles in this category is a great honour."

Vascotto stressed the importance of teamwork and ability to bounce back from mistakes:

"A team makes a difference if you work as a team. You need intelligence and motivation, and at the decisive moment we had the temperament to wait for our opportunity. You cannot be afraid to lose, because that's what gives you a chance to win."

The 2023 edition of the Rolex TP52 World Championship demonstrated many things during its course. Most significant were the exceptional quality displayed by all 10 contenders, along with the small margins between success and failure. The winning team's defining edge was its unwavering commitment in the most difficult moments, turning adversity into triumph.

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