Provezza lead into Saturday showdown for the Rolex TP52 World Championship title in Barcelona
The leaders of the 2023 52 SUPER SERIES circuit, Ergin Imré’s Provezza, carry a slender three points lead into the final day of the Rolex TP52 World Championship, Saturday. After two back-to-back wins between the last race yesterday and first race today, Provezza took a fourth and fifth while the double world champions, Harm Müller Spreer’s Platoon really applied the pressure with a very solid, 2,2,3 today. Now there is the prospect of a thrilling finale, potentially over two races in a what looks to be a very mixed up, unpredictable weather scenario.
Although it is far from a head to head – Tony Langley’s Gladiator lurks poised in third a few points back – to date Provezza have proven able to close the deal on the final day when they are under pressure at the key regattas they have won over recent years, not least securing victories in Saint-Tropez and Scarlino this season. But perhaps experience and the momentum is with Platoon who have won in 2017 and 2019 and lifted the Royal Cup in Menorca last month but must avoid penalties such as the pair in Race 3 which resulted in a weighty nine points.
A light southerly breeze put a premium on boatspeed and minimizing manuevers. With the exception fo Gladiator, the fleet push hard toward the right side of the course. Provezza had the lead approaching the first mark, but came up just shy on the layline and had to pinch quite a bit to get around the mark, allowing Sled to close the game and round virtually even. Platoon took third and then there was a substantial gap to the next three boats, Interlodge, Phoenix and Quantum Racing. The right didn’t pan out for Tong Langley ang Gladiator, which rounded 10th.
Down the run Provezza started to stretch away while Sled battle Platoon for second. The tide turned in Platoon’s favor at the leeward gate, with Sled sailing some extra distance to round the offshore gate while Platoon took the favored inshore gate and moved into second. Those positions would hold for the second lap.
The early advantage seemed to once again favor the teams that prioritized a low-risk start and sailing in clean air the first half of the best. Phoenix took the leeward position and played to the left of the fleet and turned it into a lead at the first mark, with Platoon and Provezza close behind. Gladiator turned a strong right side position into fourth at the top mark with Sled in fifth. Defending championship Quantum Racing got caught on a shy layline and rounded 10th, jumping to ninth only when Vayu was whistled for a penalty.
Phoenix, with Ed Baird calling tactics this week, stretched away a bit on the run only to see Platoon close the gap right before the mark. Still Phoenix took the favored right-hand gate and quickly rebuilt a 100-meter lead which it would hold to the finish to record their second win of the season and move up to third overall on the standings.
Platoon took second and Alegre found a rare passing lane on the final run to take third, with Provezza showing the first crack in its armor, dropping from third to fifth. Gladiator took fourth, Sled was sixth and then Interlodge, Alpha +, Quantum Racing and Vayu rounded out the results.
After two starts with a big crowd at the boat end, the fleet suddenly seemed to have developed an aversion to the starboard end, which left the Gladiator team with a wipe open lane to the line and control of the right side of the course. They parlayed that into a lead at the first mark, which they held around the track for their first win of the regatta.
Quantum Racing was one of two other boats that hit the line on time and at pace—along with Interlodge—and, no surprise, this too produced their best finish of the regatta. Quantum Racing had a nip and tuck battle with Platoon for all four legs, edging past the German team on the second beat and then holding it off on the final run. Platoon may have lost that battle, but they won day, finishing third in the third race to go along with two seconds.
Provezza was steady, if not as spectacular as in the first five races, and finished fourth. Alegre rounded out the top five. Alpha + was solid in sixth, with Vayu, Phoenix and Interlodge behind. Sled capped off a disappointing day with a last-place finish in the final race, a tough pill for a team that started the day in position to challenge for the podium if not the overall lead.
Terry Hutchinson (USA) Quantum Racing :
“The breeze came up in the last race and we were faster. We’re learning to sail together – everything was calm which is good. The standard is very high in this fleet. If we collectively analyse an afterguard as the speed unit of a boat we have two days together vs all the other teams that have been racing together for years. I’m not making any excuses but that’s just what it is. We started well in all the races, we just weren’t going that well on the first beat. The boats are hard to sail and getting locked in is hard.”
John Cutler (NZL) Provezza (TUR):
“It was quite tricky out there for us. We thought we were pretty clever after the first race and then we got taught a few lessons about the race track for the next two but managed to hang in there and come away with three pretty good races for today. We’re still just in the lead with one day to go so, pretty good! We find every day is quite stressful for us so we just try and break it down to simple steps: doing our prestart routine correctly, trying to get off the line, sail the boat fast and then what happens after that we’ll worry about it. Results come from a series of small good steps we make….. Heck yeah I’m excited. We all talked about it on the way in – who would have thought it if we were three points clear going into the final day of the worlds we’d be feeling pretty good. We all agreed we were feeling pretty good. We’ll see how we go tomorrow. We’ve gone into the worlds on the last day 40 points behind so it’s nice to be somewhere near the front. It’s really close out there – the fleet standard is really high. A metre here or a metre there makes the difference between getting away or getting behind the pack. Tomorrow the forecast seems quite confused at the moment -they suggested rain but I just can’t believe that. I’ll wake up in the morning and then read it.”
Vasco Vascotto (ITA) Platoon (GER):
“We spoke this morning and said that we need to do something more simple close to the top mark and sail the boat in a way that we can use the speed and I think that we succeeded. Today is like that and yesterday was exactly the opposite. It’s just a matter of trying to clean the mistakes during the season and during the week. I I think we’ve being doing nice debriefs, nice work from the coaches and everybody. So let’s fight tomorrow and see what happens. It’s very complicated at the top mark for plenty of reasons. First of all, the right is strong, the current is strong, you need to pick the right lane. So if someone has taken a risk to tack under you can gain a lot. Plenty of decisions to make and today went the right way. We lost one place in the last race against Quantum.Then we were almost were able to cross them downwind but we needed to respond to provezza – but then we lost again. But this is the game. Its a matter to find a lucky lane from the start. Start well and find the lucky lane – that’s the way to do it and everyone knows that. It as 50/50 today with those starting on the committee and winning and those starting on pin winning. Very tough decisions to make.”
Rolex TP52 World Championship, standings after six races
1- PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 5+3+1+1+5 +4= 19
2- PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 1+5+9+2+2+3= 22
3- GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 2+7+2+10+4+1+1=26
4- ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 3+6+3+7+3+5 = 27
5- PHOENIX (RSA) Hasso Plattner 7+2+6+5+1+8=29
6- SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 6+1+8+3+6+10= 34
7- QUANTUM RACING POWERED BY AMERICAN MAGIC (USA), Doug DeVos, 8+4+7+6+10+2=37
8- VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 4+9+4+9+9+7=42
9- INTERLODGE (USA) Augustin – Gwen Fragomen – 9+8+10+4+7+9=47
10-ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn and Tina Kang, 10+10+5+8+8+6=47
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