The 52 SUPER SERIES is established as the world’s leading grand prix monohull yacht racing circuit. The year 2020 marks the ninth season of the 52 SUPER SERIES and it is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet. The circuit grew from the ashes of the TP52 MedCup which finished in 2011 when the principal sponsor withdrew.
The 52 SUPER SERIES was developed as an initiative by three key stakeholders, respectively the owners of Quantum Racing, Azzurra and Rán Racing who enjoyed their racing in the TP52 so much, and could see a future in which the owners dictated the direction of the 52 SUPER SERIES; embracing all that they had enjoyed about the class and making racing for like-minded individuals and crews available in locations and venues enjoyed by all. Overall there is a mix of stand-alone TP52 regattas but mainly the circuit aims to visit existing, popular well-run, renowned regattas.
The TP52 came to Europe in 2005 when it was adopted by a group of owners who were disillusioned by IMS racing and the type of grand prix boats which the measurement system encouraged. These fast, light, very powerful monohulls felt more like high performance dinghies, raced in real time – first past the post wins – and yet complied to a box rule design. The box rule bound the boats to a set of key dimensions but still left the design offices and the race teams with scope to exploit their own ideas and initiatives. The careful management of the Box Rule has encouraged steady evolution of the TP52 so that it has progressively become faster and more exciting to sail with fewer crew, and fewer sails thereby keeping costs down.
History of the series
The 52 SUPER SERIES is set up thanks to the initiative of the Roemmers Family (ARG, Azzurra/Matador), Doug DeVos (USA, Quantum Racing) and Niklas Zennström (Rán Racing) in collaboration with the TP52 Class Manager Rob Weiland (NED) and Lars Böcking (GER) of Jacaranda Marketing who put the concept together.
The ideal is to deliver a mix of venues and regatta styles that owners and crews enjoy sailing at and to pursue even, close, friendly grand prix racing. Four owners initially commit to the full season of five regattas in Spain and Sardinia, Azzurra, Quantum Racing and Rán and Tony Langley (GBR) of Gladiator The first event in this inaugural year is Barcelona’s Conde de Godó Trophy where the ‘core four’ are joined by Audi All4One. Quantum Racing win the top trophy. Quantum Racing win also in June at the Audi Sardinia Cup 2012, defeating the hosts’ Azzurra by three points after seven races. Six boats compete, the ‘core four’ have added competition from Paprec Recyclage (FRA, Jean Luc Petithuguenin) and Powerplay (BVI, Tony Cunningham).
The circuit travels to Palma for July’s Royal Cup back to back with the Copa del Rey. Eight boats race at the Royal Cup which is won by Rán Racing, newcomers are Aquila (AUT) and Ergin Imre’s Turkish team on Provezza.
Finally at the Audi Valencia Cup in September Audi Azzurra Sailing team win the last 2012 regatta. Quantum Racing in fourth clinch the first 52 SUPER SERIES overall title.
In 2013 the 52 SUPER SERIES goes global….In a bid to encourage the TP52 owners to travel, for Europeans to race early season in the USA and the American owners and crews to come race in Europe, the US 52 SUPER SERIES is set up. This spans two regattas – Key West Race Week and a 52 World Championship, in America in January and March.
Azzurra win the US 52 SUPER SERIES and are pipped in Miami on the last race by Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing which became 2013 World Champions.
The core of the European circuit is formed by the popular events at known venues. Barcelona is followed by the Royal Cup in Ibiza, Copa del Rey culminating in the Audi Week of the Straits in September at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
Quantum Racing win in Barcelona ahead of Gladiator with seven boats racing, including Interlodge and Rio from the USA. Ibiza is a new venue for the 52 SUPER SERIES and Quantum Racing make it back to back wins in the eight boat fleet at these events. Gladiator are second again. At the Copa del Rey Quantum Racing extend their unbeaten record to three regattas with Rán Racing second and Azzurra third. Rio take fourth from a spirited battle with Provezza.
At the Week of the Straits a win by Azzurra on their home waters was not enough to stop Quantum Racing from being crowned 2013 52 SUPER SERIES champions after winning three from four events. The bubbling interest in the class is reflected in a nine boat entry. Rán Racing are third overall and Gladiator fourth.
Barclays and Zenith join the 52 SUPER SERIES as partners. The successful formula for the US 52 SUPER SERIES remains and seven boats race at Quantum Key West and at the 52 US Championship. Quantum Racing win both American regattas and the mini-series.
The Barclays 52 SUPER SERIES starts in Capri in light winds, where the 52s visit for the first time, travels to Sardinia for the Audi TP52 World Championship in June, the MAPFRE Copa del Rey in August in Palma culminating in the ZENITH Royal Cup Marina Ibiza in September. Twelve different 52s race in Europe and Quantum Racing win overall.
Azzurra open with a win in Capri at Rolex Capri Sailing Week ahead of Vesper (USA), Newly launched Phoenix, the first of the new generation 2015 boats for Brazilian owner Eduardo de Souza Ramos, wins the first race of the season and finishes fifth at their first regatta. Quantum Racing only pip Rán Racing to third place by one single point.
From an exciting week in Sardinia Quantum Racing win the TP52 World Championship title ahead of Phoenix in second with nine boats racing.
At the Mediterranean showcase MAPFRE Copa del Rey Quantum Racing reign ahead of Rán Racing which won four races from the ten starts.
Finally in Ibiza Quantum Racing do enough to win the regatta ahead of Azzurra while Takashi Okura’s Sled – preparing for a full, new boat campaign in 2015 finish fourth.
With nine new boats launched for the start of the season, all faster and more exciting than ever, representing the very latest generation of designs to the carefully managed TP52 class rule, 2015 proved to be a landmark season in the history of the class and the 52 SUPER SERIES.
Five boats were built to Botin Partners’ designs – Alegre, Azzurra, Bronenosec, Quantum Racing and Sled and four to Vrolijk designs – Gladiator, Platoon, Provezza, Rán. They joined the 2014 Phoenix, XIO Hurakan which was formerly Quantum Racing and Paprec which was the previous Rán.
Because the new generation of boats were being built through the winter the 2015 season started not in the USA at Key West but instead was a conventional Europe only circuit comprising five regattas in Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Quantum Racing, the winners of the back to back titles in 2013 and 2014, made changes. They fulfilled a desire to have their enthusiastic and skilled DeVos family members – the team owners – steering their boat as much as possible.
Father Doug and son Dalton alternated at different regattas – and actually split the Copa del Rey helming role. The changes early in the season were not easy and added another layer of challenge to the requirement for continuity and consistency.
The first regattas were all about getting up to speed and familiar with small details of each new boat as fast as possible.
The season opened in Valencia at the Ford Vignale Sailing Week where Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing won ahead of Andy Soriano’s Alegre which made a remarkable debut in the class, taking second place at just two points behind after 11 races.
Azzurra hit their stride on their home waters and won the Audi Settimana delle Bocche with a three points cushion.
But it was at Puerto Portals and the TP52 World Championships where they built a real points lead. Azzurra won the world title and their second regatta on the bounce but they were 14pts ahead of second placed Platoon at the end of racing.
Quantum Racing found their mojo at the 34th Copa del Rey where Terry Hutchinson sailed as tactician with Dalton DeVos starting as helm and Doug DeVos finishing the deal. Azzurra led until the final day when Quantum Racing won the Copa del Rey with a double bullet final day.
At the Cascais Cup in Portugal Azzurra clinched the season title with a day to spare and Quantum Racing won the regatta. Quantum Racing took second for the season and Takashi Okura’s Sled secured third on the final leg of the final race of the season.
The 52 SUPER SERIES is in tip-top health. More boats, a visibly higher standard. Better, closer racing. Some well-known faces come home. Great new venues. A fantastic, friendly atmosphere ashore. Tension until the end of the season as competitive rivalries peak and trough all the way through the fleet. The 2016 52 SUPER SERIES season will be remembered for all of these reasons.
This was a long season. Points racing at the five regattas may have started in May in Scarlino and concluded in Cascais in October, but preparations started in Valencia in March when teams got together for some informal training. Gaastra Palma Vela in late April had a full TP52 entry as crews sought to ensure they were fully primed and ready to hit the straps straight away in Tuscany.
The fleet size grew for 2016. Twelve boats raced in Porto Cervo at the Audi Settimana delle Bocche and at the 52 World Championship in Menorca.
After something of a sabbatical in 2015, Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing returned for the full set of regattas. New teams to the circuit this season – Peter Harrison’s Sorcha (GBR) and Richard Cohen’s Phoenix (USA) – tested the temperature of the circuit at two events, enjoyed it, and sought to do more in 2017.
Doug DeVos’s Quantum Racing (USA) were convincing overall winners of the 2016 season title. Finishing second to Azzurra (ITA) in 2015 was a spur to raising the bar even higher. They made key crew changes – tough decisions, pre-season.
The hard-driving Terry Hutchinson marshalled the team throughout and profited from owner-driver DeVos steering three regattas. They came out of the blocks hard and fast. Winning in Scarlino, they proved furiously consistent. A run that saw them add three more regattas and the 52 World Championship to their belt.
Azzurra took second overall, winning the final regatta of the season, while the battle for third went to the wire, Rán Racing securing third overall on the last race of the last day.
It was long, it was tough, it was incredibly competitive, but most of all; 2017 was fun.
Perhaps for some teams, the highs were higher and the lows lower, but such is the nature of the 52 SUPER SERIES these days. Teams can take nothing for granted. When, even a year or two ago, there was a form book – a rough hierarchy. Now it is open season on podium places.
For the first time, the 52 SUPER SERIES championship title was decided over six regattas, two in the USA and four in Europe. The season started in January in Key West and finished in Mahón, Menorca in September. In theory, April and half of May should have been quiet and this year August was given over to a proper summer break, but for all, the season felt long and pretty relentless, a fine test of a true champion.
It proved to be a fascinating title race; one that really inspired interest and excitement from around the world. For the first time since the circuit started out with just four boats in 2012, there really were three teams fighting for the overall title, and it really did go to the wire.
Hindsight is 20/20 vision, but who on the dock in Key West would have put a sizeable bet on Platoon coming out as the most consistent team over the first half of the season? And who didn’t expect Quantum Racing to simply copy / paste their successes of 2016?
Five different boats won regattas. Only Azzurra won two events. Ponder that for a second. That is nearly half of the regular, core fleet proving they can win regattas. Beautiful self-contained Scarlino delivered a new World Champion in Platoon; Porto Cervo the most exciting, dramatic and unpredictable final day; Puerto Portals is always fun and good racing; and Mahón in Menorca brought the season to a fantastic finale on a suitably challenging race course, sailing from a popular location.
Rolex came onboard as sponsors. We delivered a great programme for guests from all over the world for XS Energy Drinks. We made sustainability entertaining, essential and informative, and live 52 SUPER SERIES TV was an outstanding success. Bring on 2018, sooner the better!!
The 2018 season proved to be a very strong year with nine new boats built, some on the strength of the announcement that the America’s Cup would be raced in monohulls. Quantum Racing worked as the core of the future American Magic team while the emblematic Prada team joined, cherry picking tactician Vasco Vascotto from the successful Azzurra team. Brazil’s Eduardo de Souza Ramos returned to the circuit with a new boat which he sailed with Brazil’s legendary Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt and a young crew. Hasso and Tina Plattner joined the circuit too, Ed Baird joining as tactician for Tina. The circuit visited Croatia, Zadar and Sibenik for the first time ever. Quantum Racing won in Sibenik at the first regatta of the season, Luna Rossa taking the honours in Zadar, narrowly beating Tina Plattner’s Phoenix who were in the match until the last races.
At the Rolex TP52 World Championship in Cascais Quantum Racing collected the title with Azzurra second and Alegre third.
In August Quantum Racing impose themselves in the sea breezes on the Bay of Palma racing out of Puerto Portals, winning again but only three points up on Azzurra.
The season finishes in the popular Spanish America’s Cup venue of Valencia where Luna Rossa sign off from the circuit with a win but in second place Quantum Racing win the 2018 circuit title, a winning swansong for the departing Terry Hutchinson.
The season started with a popular return to Menorca which served up an enjoyable variety of wind and sea conditions. Platoon served notice of the strength and depth of their title challenge by winning here in May from a close battle with Provezza, the Vrolijk designs taking first and second.
Puerto Sherry in Andalucia is a new venue to the circuit and the Atlantic waters prove challenging to read as the tidal currents play a part and the breezes are hard to decipher.
Provezza follow up their second place in Menorca by winning on the Bay of Cadiz, rising to the top on a highly charged, super close final day, final race where any one of three boats could have taken the title.
It was breezy with some big waves in Cascais where Cameron Appleton found his winning ways as he new tactician on Quantum Racing, narrowly pipping Azzurra by one single point.
As the Rolex TP52 World Championship moved to Puerto Portals on the Bay of Palma, Platoon proved a cut above the rest and won the world title for the second time in three years, establishing themselves as favourites to win the 2019 overall circuit title.
But at a climactic Costa Smeralda where Takashi Okura’s Sled were unstoppable winning six races from nine starts, it was Azzurra who clinched the 2019 52 SUPER SERIES title on home waters.
The 2020 season saw the 52 SUPER SERIES break a new territory as the circuit visited Cape Town, South Africa for the first time ever. To see the international fleet lined up ready for Odzala Discovery Camps 52 SUPER SERIES the at the dock on the V & A Waterfront with the iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop was a very special moment in the history of the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit.
The regatta was partly facilitated by the Plattner family who had both the home town favourites Phoenix 11 and Phoenix 12 racing in the ten boat fleet which comprised teams from seven different nations.
The regatta delivered in every way. The legendary Cape Doctor breeze came in on cue. Hasso Plattner’s team gave home fans something to cheer about by opening with a 1,3,1 and leading the regatta but over the piece it was the consistency of the defending 2019 season champions Azzurra which was enough to see them win the Cape Town title with new tactician Michele Paoletti taking over from Vasco Vascotto in the afterguard of the Italian-Argentine team of the Roemmers family. Phoenix 11 took second and Quantum Racing third.
As the fleet left Cape Town all the talk was of the Rolex TP52 World Championship which was due to take place a month later. Little did anyone really know how the global pandemic would take hold……