Out of the Blue. Vascotto Lays Down The Gauntlet With Platoon.

Two practice races in light breezes on the beautiful Gulf of Follonica out of Tuscany’s Marina di Scarlino served as the final warm-up for what promises to be a brisk opening Tuesday to the Royal Cup 52 SUPER SERIES Scarlino, the fourth regatta of the 2022 52 SUPER SERIES season.

Today’s two one-lap practice contests marked the return to the fleet of charismatic, successful
Italian Vasco Vascotto. More normally associated with the emblematic blue of the Italian Azzurra programme, with which he won the 52 SUPER SERIES three times as tactician, in 2012 – the inaugural year of the 52 SUPER SERIES circuit, in 2015 and 2017, Vascotto – now wearing the white shirt of Platoon – did not take long today to find his feet in his new role as tactician on Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon. They won the second practice contest and have already proved their potential at a venue that Vascotto knows well. On Platoon he is partnered with long time strategist Jordi Calafat.

“I first sailed on the Gulf here as a 12 year old at the Optimist World Championships and Jordi was here and he was my hero. Believe it or not this is the first time I have sailed with him and it is great.”

Smiled Vascotto on the dock at the Marina di Scarlino.

He added,

“Today was good we had some good starts and the boat is good and it is a great team, obviously we need to improve communication and improve things which are normal for a new team. I need to stay quiet, everything is good. I am so happy to be here. And I missed this circuit, anybody who is like me who says they don’t love every minute on this circuit is a sad person. Now I think we want to just try to just enjoy sailing together, that is goal number one. And then to just make good starts and sail clean and then we will see what happens. So that is the focus to start with. We want to start very clean off the line, that is goal number 1.”

While Vascotto brings years of experience – he won the first ever TP52 season in the Med in 2005 with the Chilean flagged Pisco Sour – and his sparky, attacking spirit, Australia’s double Olympic medallist Will Ryan is very much the ‘new kid on the block’ as strategist on Andy Soriano’s Alegre. They, too, showed good form in the practice races. Olympic 470 ace Ryan is relatively new to big boat sailing at this top, top level and is paired with British tactician Nic Asher. He looking to learn as much as he can, soaking up the knowledge and experience.

Ryan observed,

“There is no easy introduction to this fleet. And Scarlino can be tricky. I have been here twice this season already. Each day looks to be different and for me each day is a steep learning curve. It has been so enjoyable so far with a really nice group of people. From a personal point of view I want to be the best that I can be. My experience is very different to what these guys have and so I am very keen to learn from them but I am keen to impart what I have, dinghy skills and the way to approach things from the coaches I have had. This circuit is the pinnacle for sure. I did some sailing with Sled in 2019 when Adam Beashel was tactician and absolutely loved it. It is nice to have a little experience to come in with now. And it was great to sail with Tom (Slingsby) earlier this year and he is a real inspiration and these boats are just awesome.”

The first practice race was won by the Whitcraft family’s Thai flagged Vayu which goes especially well in the light breezes and which has Palma ace Manu Weiller sailing as tactician this week. He said,

“When the wind is so light the most important thing is the start and getting the best side. Today we did very well on both starts, we were able to go left, and from there the fleet stretches out so much that it’s basically easy to keep the position. It’s a good race course, with thermals on both sides of Elba, and also the northerly as we saw this morning, which sometimes blows stronger.”

Tuesday’s first races are expected to see breezes over 20kts which will straight away put a premium on boat handling, especially since there has been a two month summer break since the 52 SUPER SERIES last raced on the Bay of Palma.

Alegre’s navigator Francesco Mongelli summarises,

“It will be reasonably strong. The wind should be OK for racing depending when, if it is too much in the morning it will drop in the afternoon, but after that it will be a light week. The driver of the weather this week is the water which is very warm and so the sea breeze will be hard to build and the other thing here is the Elba island which is a mess to understand how the wind passes over and round it. It will be an interesting week for sure.”

52 SUPER SERIES 2022 Overall Ranking after three regattas, Baiona, Cascais, Puerto Portals:
1 PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 27+42+25 = 94 pts.
2 QUANTUM RACING (USA), Doug DeVos, 19+33+44 = 96 pts. 
3 PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 26+40+51 = 117 pts.    
4 SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 43,5+44+36 = 123,5 pts.   
5 ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 43+41+52 = 136 pts.  
6 PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 61+54+42 = 157 pts.   
7 INTERLODGE (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 39+71+50 = 160 pts.   
8 VAYU (THAI), Whitcraft Family, 45+54+79 = 178 pts. 
9 GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 60+73+71 = 204 pts