After the one way, one sided gains of the track of Saint Tropez earlier in the month, the 52 SUPER SERIES teams seem set to be offered the very opposite type of sea-breeze conditions over the first few days of the 52 SUPER SERIES Scarlino Sailing Week which starts Tuesday on the Gulf of Follonica, Tuscany.
Today’s two short, sharp practice races underlined how the shifty, unsettled sea breezes might present continued challenges – or opportunities – to the afterguards of the 11 teams representing seven different nations racing this week. Jean Luc Petithuguenin’s French team on Paprec won one practice race, the other went to the Thai team on Vayu.
The winners of the French event, Ergin Imré’s Provezza, arrive in Tuscany holding a six points circuit lead and have full confidence in their set up and their team but navigator Nacho Postigo denies they hold the rank of favourites to win here again,
“The fleet here is so high level I don’t think you can say anyone now is a favourite except the usual suspects, Quantum and Sled, Phoenix and so on. Honestly I think we now have a good package right now with the boat, the sails, the mods we have done and the crew. And if we manage to get the most out of the boat as we did in Saint Tropez then I think we can be up there again.”
The feedback from other teams universally agrees that the Vrolijk boats Provezza and Platoon are more potent after their keel mods. Provezza have worked hard on their rig set up and have a new sail designer in America’s Cup and Ocean Race winning designer Robert ‘Hooky’ Hook.
“He has done a great job picking up from where Juan Meseguer had already started and he has adapted better to what we specified in the winter, so we are benefiting now from what we learned last year. And especially we have done a lot of work on the rig settings and that is also connected to what we learned last year. And finally we have the new keel which is working well.”
Postigo relishes challenges here,
“This is a great venue but I have been expecting the sea breeze to build more than it did these first few days here. So we have seen big shifts and changes in pressure, so it is interesting. I was expecting it to be much more linear, a building sea breeze come in and stay but it has been very complex, especially today. But, then, when you have speed you prefer the one way track of Saint Tropez, if you don’t have speed you want shifts, so let’s see!”
One team on the bounceback after a modest first half in Saint Tropez are the Plattners’ South African crew of Phoenix. Bringing in a new tactician in Santi Lange, already a proven 52 SUPER SERIES winner on Azzurra in 2019, requires time and races to learn the subtleties of style and communication as Kiwi strategist Cameron Dunn attests,
“We got a lot better in Saint Tropez, the second half was better. We did not get off the start line and we struggled. We have a couple of new personalities on board and this fleet is so tough, you make a small mistake at a venue which was so one sided, so dominant that it took us a while to find our groove and it felt like we sailed the second half really well.”
“Relationships are always different. With Santi, you bring in a different personality, a different culture, it is just about learning the communication and the way he like to do things. Someone like Tom Slingsby was very clear and concise what he wanted from Day 1, whereas Santi is quieter and wants to make sure he fits in with the team and so you maybe missed a bit of that style of leadership. But now he is really stepping up and taking on the role which is awesome and we noticed that as we were going through the regatta in Saint Tropez which is cool.”
Racing starts Tuesday and runs through until Saturday. Follow the competition live every day on the 52 SUPER SERIES website and social media channels.