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The Rolex TP52 World Championship is considered to be a benchmark for inshore yacht racing. The pinnacle event of the TP52 class season gathered ten teams from seven countries in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for five days of competition. The quest was one of the most coveted prizes in grand prix sailing. After eight races, Takashi Okura’s Sled, from the United States, emerged victorious to claim a well-deserved title. 

The Bay of Palma is a regular stage for international yachting events. The popular location hosted the previous TP52 World Championship in 2019, when Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon from Germany was the winner.

The bay is generally regarded as one of the most reliable arenas in Europe for wind. However, the later than usual timing, due to the global pandemic, added an extra layer of complexity to an already challenging contest. The 2021 regatta was played out in demanding and changeable conditions, quite different to the more traditional, stable winds.

Former Rolex World Sailor of the Year, Tom Slingsby, the Australian tactician racing on the Plattner family’s entry, Phoenix: “This time of the year is very tough, since we get the offshore breezes. Palma can be a bit predictable in summer, but in November it’s an open game and boat speed alone is not always going to win. That said, everything you need to know is on the water in front of you, you just have to take a good look and figure out the best course.”

Hasso Plattner’s South African entry Phoenix ended in fourth overallHasso Plattner’s South African entry Phoenix ended in fourth overall Photo: Kurt Arrigo

More than ever, the ability to adapt to the environment was paramount. Crews were required to dig deep to prevail in frequently shifting conditions. Like many of the elite talent participating, Slingsby is an expert at adjusting. Just before joining Phoenix, the Olympic gold medallist from 2012 was onboard the maxi Comanche setting a new monohull race record at the 606 nautical mile Middle Sea Race. Prior to that, he was helming the Australia SailGP Team’s foiling catamaran to victory at the Spain Sail Grand Prix in Cadiz. Slingsby admits it takes some effort:

“It is very hard sometimes to go from approaching the start line at 40 knots in SailGP to joining the TP52 class, where we are approaching the line at six or seven knots. Changing my mindset can take a day or two before I get my head into it and get my timing and distances.”

The Rolex TP52 World Championship fleet shortly after the start Photo: Kurt ArrigoThe Rolex TP52 World Championship fleet shortly after the start Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Slingsby’s adjustment was evidently rapid. The South African team started with a perfect first day to claim the top of the leaderboard. Defending its pole position on days two and three, an increase in wind strength on the penultimate day of racing added a new element to the equation. The dramatic explosion of Phoenix’s spinnaker in the final leg of Race 7 opened the door for her closest rivals. Errors are always expensive luxuries in such a tight fleet.

After claiming a third victory of the week in Race 8, Sled, with three-time Olympian and America’s Cup helm Francesco Bruni from Italy on tactics, crept into the overall lead. The American crew had a one point advantage over Quantum Racing (USA) and Platoon, with Phoenix a further point behind. The battle for the world championship title was wide open and an exciting final day beckoned.

TP52 Quantum Racing prepares for a spinnaker hoistTP52 Quantum Racing prepares for a spinnaker hoist Photo: Kurt Arrigo

Unfortunately, extreme north-easterly winds over the racing area led to the cancellation of the last scheduled races. Sled’s late burst proved perfectly timed to secure the 2021 TP52 World Championship. Bruni, who also competes on the SailGP circuit, confirmed it had been a true test, especially for the tacticians:

“We’ve never seen Palma like this. It was unbelievable, in one hundred metres you could lose two hundred metres.”

The TP52 World Championship fleet under spinnaker, inlcuding closest to camera Code Zero, Sail no: ITA 23520, Country: NED, Owner: Marc BleesThe TP52 World Championship fleet under spinnaker, inlcuding closest to camera Code Zero, Sail no: ITA 23520, Country: NED, Owner: Marc Blees Photo: Kurt Arrigo
Consistency was so difficult to maintain that commitment and crew spirit became the critical components, he explained:

“We were not very consistent. We were up and down a lot, but every boat was the same. Every boat had bad moments and good moments. We were very tight as a team, and I think that’s why we won: concentration and really nice teamwork.”

The SLED crew celebrate their win of the Rolex TP52 World Championship title and also the 2021 circuit title. Photo: Kurt ArrigoThe SLED crew celebrate their win of the Rolex TP52 World Championship title and also the 2021 circuit title. Photo: Kurt Arrigo

The Championship confirmed its status as the apex of Grand Prix monohull sailing. All ten teams showed the highest level of skill and determination required to compete within this finest selection of sailing talent. Maximizing the tiniest of margins and excelling when it counted the most made the difference.

Published in Racing
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Over a regatta which consisted of five races, there was no room in a winning scoreline for one big result. While several rival teams left the sunshine island of Menorca today rueing small mistakes which ultimately cost them their chances of lifting the TP52 class’s prestigious Royal Cup, Harm Müller Spreer’s can point to a consistent scoreline as the reason his German flagged team won at the Menorca 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing week for the second time in a row.

The double world champions cut out the costly errors – such as the three red flag penalties – which ruined their possibilities of collecting the Mallorca title last month in Puerto Portals when the 52 SUPER SERIES opened. With John Kostecki and Jordi Calafat combining on tactics and strategy for owner-driver Müller-Spreer, the Platoon team composed a scoreline of 4,3,6,4,1 to win by a couple of points from Andy Soriano’s Alegre. 

Owner driver Müller Spreer smiled “It is so nice to win, it is a bit strange to win here the second time in a row but we had so many different conditions especially the two days with a lot of wind and big waves, they were really tough conditions. But the class is so close. At least five different boats could have won here. It is really, really hard when you make a small mistake. But it is very demanding here, it is shifty and the wave conditions are difficult, especially when the winds are dropping and the waves are still there and that makes it hard to steer the boat fast over the whole race course. Right now it is so close but five boats are certainly in the frame for the overall title. 

While Alegre opened the regatta with a trio of bullets – an openings salvo unprecedented in seven years of the 52 SUPER SERIES nine years of history – Day 3 saw them slip to a 17 point aggregate for the day. Although happy with second, like Vladmir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec and Doug DeVos’s Quantum Racing, who finished third, when the last two windless days meant no further racing was possible, like the rest of the 11 boat fleet, Alegre might still be among the majority who would have loved to have had the chance to complete more races. 

Quantum Racing started badly with an 11th before going 4,4,2,2. Bronenosec, with Vasco Vascotto calling tactics, took the heaviest penalty for a collision at the start of race 2, the resulting 14pts weighing down their 2,2,3,3 to leave them fourth. Platoon win the Royal Cup, one of the class’s most prestigious trophies in sailing. Designed by Bulgari it was donated by King Harald of Norway, Pasquale Landolfi, Willi Illbruck and Yannis Costopoulos originally as a challenge trophy for IMS50 racing, at that time the world’s premier level rating class. Past winners of the Royal Cup include Landolfi’s Brava Q8, as well as Peter de Ridder’s 50 footer Mean Machine. This link from the traditions of the recent past to today is testament to the 52 SUPER SERIES as the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit. 

As the 52 SUPER SERIES now heads to Palma de Mallorca and the Rolex TP52 World Championship over the first week of November, the circuit standings could not be tighter. Platoon lead on tie break from Quantum Racing on 46 points while Alegre and Takashi Okura’s Sled are tied one point behind. 

Menorca 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week, Final Results

1. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (4,3,6,4,1) 18pts
2. Alegre (GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (1,1,1,7,10) 20 pts
3. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (11,4,4,2,2) 23 pts
4. Bronenosec Gazprom (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) (2,DNF14 (12+2),2,3,3) 24 p.
5. Phoenix (RSA) (Tony Norris) (3,7,3,5,6) 24 pts
6. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (5,8,7,1,4) 25 pts
7. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (8,2,8,6,11) 35 pts
8. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (6,9,9,10,5) 39 pts.
9. Interlodge (USA) (Austin Fragomen) (7,10,5,8,9) 39 pts
10. THA72 (THA) (Tom and Kevin Whitcraft) (10,5,10,11,7) 43 pts
11. Paprec (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithugeunin) (9,6,11,9,8) 43 pts

Circuit Standings After 2 of 3 regattas

1. Platoon (28,18) 46p.
2. Quantum Racing (23,23) 46 pts.
3. Alegre (27,20) 47 pts.
4. Sled (22,25) 47 pts.
5. Phoenix (26,24) 50 pts.
6. Bronenosec (30,22 +2) 54 pts.
7. Provezza (27,35) 62 pts.
8. Interlodge (37,39) 76 pts.
9. Gladiator (50,39) 89 pts.

Published in Racing
Tagged under

A young Irish sailor is making her mark Down Under after swapping the shores of Skibbereen for the bright lights of Sydney.

Self-described “home bird” Mia Connolly had only spent a week outside of Ireland before upping sticks for Australia six months ago.

But she’s since put her years of experience as a pitman and trimmer — both in student yachting and later on such vessels as the J92 Jostler and Royal Irish Quarter-Tonners Cri Cri and Enigma — into a new challenge, crewing Gordon Ketelbey’s TP52, Zen.

Mia set off from Ireland last November with the dream of “that Sydney Harbour dream life”, including witnessing the Sydney to Hobart Race with her own eyes.

“GordonGordon Ketelbey’s TP52, Zen

Yet within just a few short months she’s become a big race winner herself, assisting with the bow as part of the crew that took the IRC Division 1 title in the 2019 Garmin NSW IRC Championship last week.

 

That result in the Sail Port Stephens regatta came after victory in the Sydney Harbour Regatta State Championships, on the same waters she’d dreamed of watching others race this time year ago.

Mia also crews Ketelbey’s Farr 40, also named Zen, which just took part in its class national and state championships.

Such achievements don’t seem so surprising from someone who grew up in a leisurely sailing family, where roundings of Fastnet Rock were a regular feature of her childhood and Cape Clear Island “felt like a second home”.

Mia tells Afloat.ie: “It is now coming up to my six months here in Sydney and my journey in getting this far has no doubt been a challenge, but I guess dedication has no limits and I’m looking forward to seeing how the future unfolds.”

Published in News Update
A US entrant in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race capsizsed near Fastnet Rock off the Cork coast earliert this evening, The Irish Times reports.
Further to our previous report, The Irish Times notes that 22 people were on board the Rambler 100, which overturned in force-five winds at around 6.30pm this evening.
The Department of Transport confirmed that all crew have been accounted for, with 16 sitting in the hull of the boat and the remainer on life rafts.
RNLI Baltimore's lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard are currently attending. Coastguard helicopters have also been dispacted, with naval vessel LE Clara giving assistance. The rescue effort has been hampered by misty conditions in the area this evening.
Rambler 100 recently set a new world record for the almost 3,000-nautical mile transatlantic crossing from Newport, Rhode Island to Lizard Point in Cornwall with a time of 6 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes and 2 seconds.
Elsewhere, there was disaster in IRC Z this afternoon for co-skippers Karl Kwok and Jim Swartz’s Farr 80 Beau Geste (HKG).
The yacht suffered a ‘structural problem’ while mid-away across the Celtic Sea en route to the Rock. She has since turned her bow back towards Land’s End.
Yesterday there was another high profile retirement when Johnny Vincent’s TP52 Pace (GBR) returned to her berth in the Hamble with mast problems.
In the Class 40s John Harris’ GryphonSolo2 (USA) has also pulled out, retiring to Dartmouth with sail damage.

A US entrant in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race capsizsed near Fastnet Rock off the Cork coast earlier this evening, The Irish Times reports.

Further to our previous report, The Irish Times notes that 22 people were on board the Rambler 100, which overturned in force-five winds at around 6.30pm this evening.

The Department of Transport confirmed that all crew have been accounted for, with 16 sitting in the hull of the boat and the remainer on life rafts. 

ramblertext

Rambler 100 rounds the Fastnet Rock. Photo: Daniel Forster/Rolex

RNLI Baltimore's lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard are currently attending. Coastguard helicopters have also been dispatched, with naval vessel LE Clara giving assistance. The rescue effort has been hampered by misty conditions in the area this evening.

ramblercapsize

Baltimore lifeboat at the scene of the capsized Rambler 100. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

Rambler 100 recently set a new world record for the almost 3,000-nautical mile transatlantic crossing from Newport, Rhode Island to Lizard Point in Cornwall with a time of 6 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes and 2 seconds.

In other Fastnet action, there was disaster in IRC Z this afternoon for co-skippers Karl Kwok and Jim Swartz’s Farr 80 Beau Geste (HKG).

The yacht suffered a ‘structural problem’ while mid-away across the Celtic Sea en route to the Rock. She has since turned her bow back towards Land’s End. 

Yesterday there was another high profile retirement when Johnny Vincent’s TP52 Pace (GBR) returned to her berth in the Hamble with mast problems. 

In the Class 40s John Harris’ GryphonSolo2 (USA) has also pulled out, retiring to Dartmouth with sail damage.

Published in Fastnet
McConaghy Boats has appointed Ancasta International Boats Sales as the dealer for UK and Ireland. McConaghy's are arguably the world leading race boat manufacturer. They are seen as the standard setters for exquisite composite construction. Their list of achievements within racing yacht construction is unrivalled and Ancasta Group is delighted with this new partnership.

The initial focus of this new partnership is on the Ker 40; the Jason Ker Designed IRC racer. In addition to the Ker 40, Ancasta will also be promoting the McConaghy 38; an out and out lunatic machine that conforms to no rules and just goes fast upwind and downwind!

The Ker 40 is anticipated as being the next big step in IRC racing. It performs beautifully upwind whilst being exhilarating downwind. This fusion of TP52 inspired performance mixed with an ability to compete under IRC rating is a combination that offers something unique at a price which is very inclusive.

Nick Griffith MD of Ancasta commented: "We are all very excited about the Ker 40, the challenge under IRC has always been to produce a competitive boat under 50' that is also exciting to sail. I have been so impressed with Jason's efforts with the Ker 46 Tonnere and we see the 40 as the next step in that development. At last a full blown 40' race boat competing under IRC. Happy days indeed!"

Ancasta through its extensive network will be handling all the sales and marketing as well as providing the highest standard of after sales care and support. The first two Ker 40's coming to the UK will be based at Hamble Yacht Services in time for this seasons racing.

Published in Marine Trade

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