Argentinian ace Guillermo Parada was undoubtedly the architect behind the successes of Azzurra when the Roemmers family’s team – which raced under the colours of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda – won the 52 SUPER SERIES title four times. He not only steered the boat to a winning level but he drove the project year in year out.
Those who had the pleasure and privilege of listening to Parada’s colour commentary during last -season’s LIVE 52 SUPER SERIES broadcasts were left in no doubt about his exceptional in-depth knowledge of the finer points of setting up and racing TP52s but there was also a great insight into his astute tactical brain.
This year Parada has joined Tony Langley’s British flagged Gladiator team and trained in Valencia as helmsman with the owner looking after tactics, and that is the line up this week as the 52 SUPER SERIES Saint Tropez Sailing Week starts Tuesday with the official practice race.
By all accounts Parada may prove to be the missing part of the jigsaw. Certainly the mood is high on board the British boat and the crew start the season buoyed with confidence. Parada also now has his first lieutenant, ex Azzurra alumni Italian Bruno Zirillli, as navigator and Chris Hosking – who clinched the circuit title with Quantum Racing last year – also adding years of experience to the line up.
Feargal Finlay, Gladiator’s project manager enthuses,
“Our training has been really good with Guille driving and Tony doing tactics. We have four new guys on the boat and so it has been a learning curve. Guillermo Parada driving, Franceso Scilichi ‘Chicho’ on the forward pedestal and Mo Gray on the aft pedestal and Chris Hosking on runners.”
“It is great having Chris as well. He is an encyclopaedia of TP52s. Between him and Guille they have so much knowledge and then that means we get the best out of everyone else too. I feel we have a very strong team and Tony finished our training week saying he feels this is the strongest we have been going into a racing season.”
“ We have focused more on rig tune, we changed our D1 (diagonals) so we can focus more on tuning the rig better – where Chris Hosking and Andy Estcourt are very good – we did some mods to the steering to adapt to Guille. We have worked hard on the boat.”
And he confirms,
“I have watched Guille driving TP52s for ten years but now to have him on our boat is great, you realise how good he is. I think our hopes and expectations are realistic here. We have a bit of a fresh team but so have a lot of other boats. There has been no standout boat in training, Phoenix are quick, Platoon are quick but they always have been. But there are big changes on Quantum Racing. I think we have realistic hopes. We feel strong. We won a race in Baiona last year at the first event of the season after a really good training week, so you never know”
And he concludes,
“This is a big event for Tony as he is someone who has campaigned to have the fleet come to Saint Tropez so we want to perform. The mood is high. We have won our class in 2018 at Les Voiles on the old Gladiator so let’s see.”
Parada pre-dates the Azzurra years as the driving force behind Matador the TP52 in the early years of the class in the Med. His assessment of the Gladiator programme is very positive,
“I think we have a very good group of sailors, hopefully we can make things happen. It is a very talented group of sailors. We have the resources and maybe need to improve a couple of things to make the team work properly in terms of coordinating ourselves and make things happen in the right way. I think we have the potential to do well and the motivation is there for sure.”
About the boat he notes,
“The boat is good. It is a little bit heavy and we have worked hard to keep it lighter but it is a little bit of a handicap. There were a lot of systems and we have removed them so we are a little bit short on manoeuvres. We have been a little pressed on reliability and sometimes power for some manoeuvres but the boat has its moments and has the potential to perform better. We have the boat we have and we have to make sure we get the best out of this equipment.”