Quantum Racing in 52 SUPER SERIES Barcelona
The 52 SUPER SERIES will celebrate its tenth anniversary in Barcelona next week by returning to where the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit was started in May 2012 at the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona’s prestigious Trofeo Conde de Godo regatta when five TP52s took the start lines and four completed the full regatta.
And the 52 SUPER SERIES Barcelona Sailing Week looks set to be a fitting climax to the most even, most competitive season of the circuit’s first decade. Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing lead the season standings by five points ahead of the Plattner family’s Phoenix. Takashi Okura’s 2021 champions Sled and Harm Müller Spreer’s are not far behind and both, especially, are looking to finish the season with a regatta title win.
For the first time in 10 years a full five days of LIVE TV!
As the circuit celebrates its first ten years, for the first time ever all of the action through all five days of racing will be broadcast live from the race courses off the Catalan capital supported with expert comment from four times 52 SUPER SERIES champion Guille Parada.
DeVos’s US flagged Quantum Racing have won three of the four regattas contested so far this season, all of the victories secured with the charismatic American owner steering. But although this record might suggests they have a enjoyed a certain edge, in fact every event this season has gone to the wire. And with this Barcelona finale being very late in the season it is very likely to prove a tricky venue to close out the 2022 championship title with shifty, awkward offshore breezes some of the time and perhaps faltering sea breezes.
Closer, ever closer……
Quantum Racing are pitching to make 52 SUPER SERIES history by becoming the only team to win five 52 SUPER SERIES season titles, this battle promises to be closer than they have experienced before. As victors in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018 they have never won any of their four circuit titles to date, by less than 22 points. Their biggest margin was 59pts in 2016 and their most recent season win, back in 2018, was by 37pts.
But can any team stop the well-oiled machine that Quantum Racing have proven themselves to be this year?
Tom Slingsby tactician on Phoenix has every faith that his team can beat Quantum Racing and win the circuit title which narrowly eluded them last year.
“They can be beaten but it won’t be easy. Quantum are a slick team and very fast but this is yacht racing and I have a lot of faith in our team. Last event we started well but I didn’t do well enough on the first beats of each race. We need to round mark 1 in better shape if we want a shot. And I think we are definitely still improving as a team. For sure we have stepped up our game this year to be contenders but we need to keep up that consistent improvement if we want to win this title.”
Rod Davis is Sled’s renowned coach who helped Azzurra overturn bigger deficits at the last regatta of the season when he was in the Italian/Argentine’s coach. He remarks,
“Even at 15 points or so they can be picked up. I think with Azzurra we picked up a ten points deficit and then put on ten points in a final regatta. We were ten points down and went on to win the season. Remember we are really late in the season in Barcelona and if there is a land breeze it can be a roll of the dice. I think it can be like that. But the sea breeze is a little more straightforward where Quantum Racing can use their boatspeed but remember Phoenix are going very well too.”
Jordi Calafat, Platoon’s strategist believes Quantum Racing have the edge – in part due to a new keel fin this season – and that edge could carry them to the 2022 title,
“The changes they have made and they are sailing very well, they don’t make mistakes and have the talent on board to do it. But the nature of the class just now is everyone has their ups and downs. Phoenix won in Portals and then were down in Scarlino recently. They are sailing well and obviously feel comfortable with their speed.”
Their record this season means Quantum Racing are favourites in Barcelona but does that mean they feel the pressure and have a target on their backs?
Quantum Racing’s team director Ed Reynolds responds with a smile,
“I see it that every event in the last ten years we have gone in with a target on our backs. But you would not have it any other way. It is easy to be an underdog, you have nothing to lose but teams which have established a level of proficiency and are expected to be there at the end, that takes a whole different mindset. It is hard to win when everyone expects you to win. I love that. You see it throughout sport. It is about being able to respond to the added pressure of being favourites and I back this team every time. I would not have it any other way.”
“But here we are….it is the same thing every year. One team goes out and looks like they might dominate everything and you get here to the last event and it is ‘wow! Here we are there are four boats which could win this.”
“But somebody can get to Barcelona and get hot and go on a run. You just never know. Our approach is to just go out and sail our best race each time. The big focus is to sail our own races and not be tunnel visioned thinking about other boats.”
“But it would be really special to win in Barcelona, not just because it’s where we started with the 52 SUPER SERIES, but it is Quantum’s European headquarters where we have been here for 25 years. And I love the culture of this team and the way they step up and rally when there is a setback. Scarlino was incredibly emotional for us with Warwick Fleury (long time mainsail trimmer) not being able to be with us because of his health and Rodney Ardern having to go home due to a family emergency. It took us a little while to get ramped up but everyone stepped up and rallied. We were really rolling at the end. And now we would love to win it with Doug steering. There is a real element of pride in that if, and I say ‘if’, we could win this event Doug would have steered and won at four events of five.”
A bigger ask?
Winning the 2022 season title would be a bigger ask for 2021 champions Sled and Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon. The German flagged team which, since Scarlino earlier this month, has Vasco Vascotto as tactician are 28 points behind the leader whilst Sled are 32.5 points behind in fourth place. Platoon finished strongly in Scarlino as the new afterguard line up started to work well.
Looking to win their first regatta of the season Platoon’s strategist Calafat is positive,
“Now we have to prove this can work. It is another learning process and we have to make it better a every event. Vasco is a very positive guy and it is good to go through the down moments with a positive guy around you. We all have our downs. It is easy when you are sailing well but it is always difficult when you have bad day, having someone positive with lots of energy like Vasco is great.”
Sled, second in Scarlino, are also looking to finish on a high having come close to winning Tuscany.
Coach Davis says,
“We have done two very solid regattas now back to back and the second half of the Worlds in Cascais was very solid, so we could win in Barcelona, for sure we can. We need to capitalise on the four main things on the first beats, starts, speed, wind structure and where you go and fleet management. Where you go on the race course is the hardest and we will concentrate more on that as the other things, we feel, are rolling along quite nicely.”
There will be a full ten boat fleet racing next week in Barcelona as the French Paprec team return to the 52 SUPER SERIES with the Petithuguenin family’s Spirit of Malouen XI, the latest Paprec TP52 which is new to them, now the fleet’s most recent Botin Partners design. They will normally race next season with Sébastien Petithuguenin steering but he has work commitments next week and so Hugues Destremau will drive with a well established solid French crew.
And while Barcelona gears up to host the 37th America’s Cup, the city is set to become home for a number of 52 SUPER SERIES sailors, there are very fond memories of Olympic medal glories from thirty years ago for sailors such as Calafat – who became a Spanish hero winning 470 gold at their 1992 home Olympic games, taking the Barcelona Olympic 470 title ahead of USA’s Morgan Reeser who is now Platoon’s coach. And Sled’s Don Cowie and Rod Davis won silver for New Zealand in the Star class.
“Yes, Don and I might have a few beers for that. It is a very special place and you can never celebrate Olympic medals too much. Thirty years on? That’s fine to still celebrate, it is one of these magic moments in both of our careers. We sailed well there as Don and I always did. I credit being through the America’s Cup a few times and we are used to the pressure and so we just sailed….”
The official practice race is on Monday 24th October, points racing runs from Tuesday to Saturday. The fleet are based at the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona.
52 SUPER SERIES 2022 Provisional standings after four of five regattas.
1. QUANTUM RACING (USA), Doug DeVos, 19+33+44+34 = 130 pts.
2. PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 27+42+25+41 = 135 pts.
3. PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 26+40+51+41= 158 pts.
4. SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 43,5+44+36+39 = 162,5 pts.
5. ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 43+41+52+46 = 182 pts.
6. PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 61+54+42+46 = 203 pts.
7. VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 45+54+79+54 = 232 pts.
8. INTERLODGE (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 39+71+50+75 = 235 pts.
9. GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 60+73+71+77,5 = 278,5 pts.