52 Super Series
The Plattner family’s South African flagged Phoenix came tantalisingly close to winning the Rolex TP52 World Championships and indeed were challengers to the end in the race for the 2021 52 SUPER SERIES title. Who can say what might have been had their spinnaker not blown up on the last downwind in Race 7 just when they seemed to be closing in on the titles.
As it was Phoenix finished just five points shy of the 52 SUPER SERIES title on what proved a very compact top of the leader board. They were third in Puerto Portals and only just missed the podium by a point, or two, in Menorca and Palma.
And so while the team finished the season very happy with how they sailed – ruing a few costly stating errors and penalties – there was very definitely a mood of what might have been. And so in many ways, under the guidance of the red-hot on form tactician Tom Slingsby, they have unfinished business to deal with this season.
Project manager Tony Norris was steering Phoenix last season whilst travel restrictions and a back injury respectively sidelined owner-drivers Hasso and Tina Plattner who we are expecting to see back on Phoenix during this 2022 season.
“We have made very few changes since last season, a season which was very good for our team. So really we are just trying to keep up the continuity. The boat has had a few little tweaks and changes to make things a little better but really last year we were quite happy with where we were speed wise. We were extremely happy upwind and downwind we improved through the season.”
He is very much looking forwards to welcoming back the father and daughter owner-drivers this season:
“I think we should see both of them, Tina probably later in the season as her back is still healing and maybe the Atlantic waves would not be good and not worth the risk. And Hasso is still very keen and wants to be at events, so he will be around. Meantime I remain the sub…..”
Phoenix were one of the crews which mustered in the spring in Valencia to train together,
“We trained in Valencia with the five other teams and we profited and enjoyed it. I think teams that did not do it missed out. We were happy with where we were against other boats and even if there was more wind there than we generally sail in I think but with two events in the Atlantic it might be more useful that we first thought.”
Norris recalls. Personally Norris feels like they have a good chance of repeating or bettering their performance of last season:
“I would imagine that this season will be a chance for Tom to return to complete some unfinished business. We all do I think. Being that close in the worlds and then blowing up a spinnaker anyone of Tom’s stature would consider that unfinished business. I think as a team we all think the same, to come so close but so far. I think we proved all through the season we are competitive and everyone is in good spirits and looking forwards to being back. The target is to be on the podium at the end of the season but we are really looking to minimise those bad races everyone has.”
And on the coaching and back-up front Norris adds:
“We will have Ben Durham who has been coaching us since Cape Town and he coaches Tom Slingsby on the SailGP programme so that gives continuity and his working very well. We are using Sail Analytics the system we helped set up and more and more teams are using, and with Francesco Naglia flying the drone and that is working well for us.”