25th of May, 2012

Closer yet… Quantum’s Ed Reynolds on the 52 SUPER SERIES

Ed Reynolds, President of Quantum Sail Design Group and the managing director of the Quantum Racing Team has been around the TP52 MedCup Circuit since the beginning. Since they launched their own boat in 2008 – and won the Circuit title in that year – the TP52 Circuit has been very good for Quantum’s global sales.

Their successes have, Reynolds avows, have been more about validating their designs and technology to the sailing public than simply collecting silverware and titles.
With that in mind Reynolds has been one of the quiet driving forces behind the scenes to ensure that an active TP52 regatta circuit continue. The 52 Super Series is here and Ed Reynolds believes this season will be as tight at the top as ever:

You have been out practicing already several times with the fleet, what do you think it will be like compared to previous years:

In practice we have already seen that season will be amazingly close.
You would think that it would be easier with a smaller fleet, but it really isn’t. The thing is if someone gets flushed they don’t get punished and so if they get the right puffs or windshifts they are right back into it.

It is like these Friday 13th movies where you think you have killed Jason….. and there he is again the rear view mirror of the car. That is how the sailing is going to be this year.

Quantum Racing were not a completely dominant force in 2011 there were weaknesses and there were strengths, what have you done to the boat through the winter?

We were plenty happy with the boat, really I don’t think we have done anything much to it since last year. The boat was good, Marcelino Botin kept saying ‘I am not sure there is much you can do to make it better.’ We have pushed really aggressively on a number of things with the sails. I think we have really been able to identify our light airs main and our moderate airs shapes, and more of a definition now. In the past we have really dealt with wind speeds, but looking at the sails and breaking them down from a sea state more than just wind speeds, same with our spinnakers. Last year with the V-Spars set up we have been a lot able to a lot of data analysis. Through the winter we have looked at it really closely and have made changes accordingly and right now I think they look really positive, we will see how that translates into results. But everybody on the boat does feel really positive about things. We are going a lot better than last year and last year was not that bad!

And you have a bunch of crew changes, some exciting new names on the roster?

We have evolved through, we have five new people. We are just integrating them. We have Warwick Fleury (four America’s Cup wins ex Team New Zealand and Alinghi) and Juan Vila (ex Alinghi)…these guys are OK, you know. If they stick at it maybe they can make a career at this (laughs). Lorenza Mazza (trimmer ex-Alinghi) is new to us and Chris Welch came from the Morning Light project and is a really, really good guy and Andy Horton is tactician. So, it will take a little while to get them integrated. But the problem with the Circuit is that you can’t sit there and think about it. Everything is just feet and inches here. I have a feeling we might struggle a little bit early on, but boat speed we will be ok but crew handling then maybe there is the potential to be reminded how precious every inch is.

Just round up what you think this 52 Super Series is about and what you see as the future of the TP52?

First of all let’s just say that we have done every MedCup event there has been, every race. Everything about these boats is brilliant. We did not think there was anything wrong with the Circuit. There were some business and some business relationships which did not work that well. And we think that if we can repair those, then this has a future. I have been doing this for 35 years and there has never been anything in fleet racing in monohulls which has ever matched this and we were just not willing to let it go. We have some committed owners who are saying the economy will turn around at this point, can we still present this in the same light it has been. The ambition is that, pretty soon the America’s Cup will be four teams and not 11 or 12, the Volvo will be over and there will be a lot of Pro sailors coming on to the market and they are going to want somewhere to go. We hope to attract them back. This Circuit is a professional sport. In a subtle way they drive the owners. A lot of owners would come here if their guys were not doing the Volvo. A lot of relationships have been forged over 15-20 years. And I think it is important to be having the main pro guys doing the circuit. It attracts attention.

Should, and/or, can this Circuit become what the MedCup was?

For me the primary reason this elevated itself was MedCup TV. We are feeling our way through things at the moment but I feel we want to be presenting this in the way the MedCup was in the last four or five years. I think the owners are of the same view. And that is interesting because RAN is completely a private team, owner-driver and we could not be more the opposite. We are a professional team, Quantum Racing is commercially funded professional team, promoting businesses and agendas. To provide the return for both those profiles is tricky, but I am pretty comfortable that this can do it.

So we have five boats here, we expect one or two more in Sardinia and more in Palma, what can be achieved and what is the optimum size of the fleet?

We think at this level, in 2008 we had 22 boats participating, I don’t know that 22 made it better. We would be really happy with seven boats because the interest is huge at seven, we know that, and so I am not sure that we would want many more than ten. We have Volvo as the grand prix of ocean racing, the America’s Cup for match racing, and this should be in the same plane as these two and the owners we have investing here believe that too.

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