Tony Rey is one of the top Project Managers
American Tony Rey is one of the top, most popular, successful ‘go to’ project managers in the 52 SUPER SERIES fleet, drawing on his many years in the class. His philosophy is simple, creating happy successful teams around owners who seem to enjoy themselves, getting what they want out of their sport and their investment. Rey was recently instrumental in getting Gunther Buerman’s Hooligan project on to the start line for the
US 52 SUPER SERIES events, involved in finding and purchasing the boat, getting the crew together and sailing the first event as tactician. He joined Ergin Imre’s Provezza team last year, and previously also was key to Peter Cunningham’s successful Power Play. His Rey Sailing consultancy and project management operation keeps him very busy. He lives in Newport Rhode Island with his artist wife and their family of three.
Tony Rey will be in Palma, Mallorca as of this weekend for the initial training and set up of Provezza as they lead into Palma Vela regatta next week. A new Future Fibres rig has just been stepped in Valencia on Provezza which the team hope will contribute to a speed improvement.
Rey is ready to rumble with the 52 SUPER SERIES:
I just did two events in the Caribbean. It is hard to avoid enjoying yourself there! The first, the Bucket, was on a 56m ketch and then did the Voiles de Saint Barth on a 12m sloop. So I had the whole span.
We are making ready to sail Palma Vela with Provezza and we are going to do three or four days of sailing against the Phoenix (the new 2014 launched design) which will good for both of us, we are just getting ready and using that regatta as a way to kick off the 52 SUPER SERIES.
The new rig is the biggest of a series of changes to the Turkish flagged 52 for the coming season:
There are a few little things. The biggest is the new rig which is a Future Fibres rig which will be quite interesting to get into. We had an older generation rig before and so we are hoping the new rig improves things in the medium to strong winds. And we have taken the steering wheels off and put a tiller on and so we are hoping that will improve things in the light airs as well. The rig is higher modulus with a little less windage, it should be stiffer all round. One of the advantages the newer boats have is that everything is just that much stiffer. That means a bit more runner tension up range. Hopefully this will equalise things a bit, and this is potentially a rig we can use in a new boat going forward which is what we are all hoping we may see for 2015.
He believes the new rig will help close their speed deficit on the newer boats:
It is a nice chance now to try and bridge the gap to the 2011 boats. We have a bunch of new sails, there are some incremental changes, there is not much changing in the class in terms of sail design, but there is a chance to make some changes from last year and we just keep moving forwards which you have to do in this class. Every time is lifting up every rock to find out what the very small incremental changes are that will all add up to a bit of an edge. We have a bit of input now in terms of sails from Simon Fry who was coaching us a bit before, he is more involved now. But we will really get a better perspective on the changes next week after we have been sailing!
Changes to the crew line up will be evident, some with an eye to the longer term future, but the core will still includes Imre’s long time crew, forming a truly Pro-Am team:
We have beefed up in the grinding department with Guy Reid from the UK, Andy Clark will be on board and Simon Fry joins us. The core group of Turkish sailors are long time team mates of Ergin Imre the owner and it is fun, there is a real family atmosphere in the sense that these guys have been team mates for years. We had some nice results last summer and have filled a few gaps this year with Guy and Simon join the team and that will be a step forwards in terms of more experience, and Nick Rogers on the helm now has a tiller!
Rey joined the Provezza team last year:
I did a Farr 40 regatta with the team in the US about two years ago and they decided that they liked me and they wanted to try a new personality on board and we seemed to hit it off pretty well. The first 52 regatta I did with them was Palma Vela a year ago and we managed to win that. And then we had some nice experiences building on that last season. Ergin seemed to appreciate my style, and the combination of working with a grand prix team mates and some of the loyal Turkish sailors we put together a really acceptable team. And now it feels like we are just making nice, incremental builds on that. We are keeping with Ergin’s unique style of running a fun, Pro-Am team. I seem to work well like this.
Many would argue that if there were more Tony Reys around, grand prix yachting would have more owners enjoying their sport for longer, and he enjoys the camaraderie and shared vision of the pro-am team:
I focus really on making sure everyone has a chance to contribute to the result. We don’t need one loud voice or two big loud voices on board, we all work together as a team there is a lot of mutual respect. And some of our Turkish guys are not big name famous sailors in our grand prix sailing world but they have been racing for 30 or 40 years and so it is just a question of listening to everybody and making sure everybody gets a voice and making sure it feels to us all like we are building something as a team, rather than just having a bunch of pros come in and start yelling at everyone telling them what to do. You get a lot more out of people, I find, if everybody gets a voice.
But with Hooligan, Provezza and, maybe in the background PowerPlay, what is the future?
Provezza is the 52 I am focussed on for 2014. This is the big push now for the summer. Hooligan I helped to get going, organising the buying of the boat, organising the crew and getting their season going but now they are going to do local sailing in Newport. I will be in Europe with Provezza and so I wont be doing any more sailing with Hooligan this summer. I was really just getting them up and running the first place.
Peter Cunningham has been looking at returning to the TP52.
Peter has taken two years off and we are not going to let him take any more time off. We are having a good look at what our opportunities are going forwards. It could well be a 52 again. One of the great things about the 52 is that we had a spectacular two seasons with Power Play. Now taking time off, we are looking, but keep coming back to the 52. What a perfect platform it is, not just for the 52 SUPER SERIES but for IRC racing around and about the 52 SUPER SERIES. It has such a sweet spot for owner drivers to come racing. It is really hard to find anything more fun or more rewarding than a 52. For 2015 we are evaluating but I think you will see a new Power Play for 2015 of one form or another.
His fundamental principles chime with what owners and sailors want:
I am just trying to help owners and teams get together and get on, to have the owners coming out on the water and keep sailors busy.
Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to be on the podium, we all know that. Great. But there is something else which every yacht owner wants out of it. Something as well as competing, or along with the winning. That might be sailing with a few family members, or its training towards a world championship, or having new adventures in new places where you don’t do the same races every year and so you are willing to ship the boat around. It is just a question of figuring out what the owners want, along with winning, and trying to provide that. You cannot guarantee victories, but you can with the other things, whether that is meeting new friends, sailing with your kids, or having your wife on board, or having your wife nowhere near the boat(!), it is just a question of figuring that out…we try to build that into the campaign. And part of that is getting the budget right. So the biggest goal I have is making sure there are no surprises. There should be no surprises in the cost, in the scope. One of the things I do with new clients is have them sit down and write a quick mission statement, just a paragraph. ‘what is it that you envision this thing to be?’ and then to try and stay true to that.
A decade on the TP52’s gives a very broad perspective, from the old days offshore to the modern grand prix circuit:
The first 52 regatta was on the old Yassou in 2004 in San Francisco. Did Esmerelda in some of the inshore races in Florida, did the Bermuda Race, the Jamaica Race, the Chicago Mac and so sailed the 04 05 TP52’s. He was with Aifos in 2005 and Ono in 2006 and so I have now sailed a real range of these boats. It is extraordinary what they can do. It still feels like the class is growing, it is a wonderful race boat.
The boats are much more high performance but you are much less likely to do an offshore race on them. We did the Pineapple Cup once from Fort Lauderdale to Jamaica past the eastern tip of Cuba through the Bahamas chain, on an ’04 boat which had the old IMS measurement and so had the old dog house. It looks antiquated now, but the boat was more seaworthy and the boats had a finer forefoot so they were a little more seakindly back in the day. The modern 52s you take them offshore for these races, the Bermuda Race or the Jamaica Race, not only is the boat going to pound but you will spend a lot of time baling because of all the little water ingresses, where the sheet tails and the halyards all go down below now.
He summarises his sailing career and the enjoyable contrast of home life in Rhode Island:
My sailing has always been a combination of little boats and big boats. In the US University racing is big back in the day I focused on that. I spent some years trying to qualify for the US team in the Star and went as a coach to Paul Cayard in 2004 in the Star. I have always been involved in the America’s Cup in the 1990s, with Young America in 2000, with Denis Conner’s Stars & Stripes in 2003, and with Desafio in 2007. I have always been a monohull guy and so since 2008 I left that behind and have focused on big boats and trying to do as many good events as I can, happy to collect the Frequent Flyer miles along the way.
Home is Newport. My objective is to have more events at home here in Newport, I will do some here, but most of my sailing in the summer is in the Med.
My wife is an artist and is not a sailor. And so to be honest I come home and shut off the grand prix yachting off and go to baseball games with my kids, and we are involved with the art community in Newport. It is nice to be able to step away. We are not members of a sailing club here and the biggest thing I have to do is to figure out how to get my kids out enjoying sailing in the summer as that is when I am away sailing. In a sense that is my biggest challenge.
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