Final dress rehearsals done, time for action at the 52 SUPER SERIES Saint-Tropez Sailing Week.
As if to prove how open this 11th season of the 52 SUPER SERIES is shaping up to be, the two short, sharp single lap practice races on the Gulf of Saint-Tropez today were won by different boats, Thailand’s Vayu and last year’s runners up, Hasso and Tina Plattner’s Phoenix team which has a new tactician in Argentinian Santi Lange.
The final dress rehearsal before Wednesday’s start to the 52 SUPER SERIES Saint Tropez Sailing Week, light and shifty breezes meant opportunities for all with 11 boats racing on a tight race course. And on the last day before points racing starts for real there was a final warning -as if it were needed – that small mistakes and being at anything less than 100% off the start line makes life very difficult.
Quantum Racing powered by American Magic which has a new afterguard – Harry Melges IV steering, Victor Diaz de Leon as strategist-navigator and John Kostecki as tactician – not unexpectedly showed they need time to gel together.
Lange, who won the 2019 circuit title as Azzurra’s tactician is relishing the challenge with 2022 runners-up Phoenix, stepping into the shoes of Tom Slingsby whose Sail GP and commitments with American Magic mean something had to give way this season.
The 2016 Olympic gold medallist explains:
“This a great team for sure and it such a pleasure to join them. I have so much respect for Tom. I asked him what I need to do to keep improving. He told me the strengths of the team it was nice of him to support me. There is lots to learn here with this team, understanding how we communicate, the abilities and how they operate. I am very respectful to how they have done so far. They are a tight group, they are friends and they do things very properly and keep it simple.”
“Of course I feel the pressure, I feel good pressure. I know I have to perform but that is what I like. It is normal.”
“It is tight with the Olympic programme. We are in the trials for the Olympics spot and we are behind now and in a difficult situation with only one more regatta for the trials.”
Platoon were very much in the mix today, showing good speed and slick crew work. Owner-driver Harm Müller-Spreer feels they have everything in place to win the season
“But I feel that every season at this point.”
Grins the German helm who has won two Rolex TP52 World Championship titles and finished third at the end of the 2022 and 2021 season and three times runners up, in 2019, 19 and 17.
Harm Müller-Spreer observes,
“We are competitive I can feel that now. The team is more or less the same as last year. Vasco is well settled in and we had two good regattas with good results with him at the end of last season> We changed the keel fin and it is much better. It is massively different. Before with the smaller keel if you were not up to speed you were sliding sideways. It is giving more lift. But all the boats are strong. But I don’t look at the other boats and their changes. Now all we can do is do our best. We have some rig setting changes. Today was good in proper conditions and we were top three all the time. The speeds of the boats are more or less even.”
Racing starts 1300hrs CET Wednesday. Follow it on the live tracker with commentary from the water.
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