The most consistent TP52 this season, Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon team has a fighting chance of lifting the Rolex TP52 World Championship title for the first time, after returning a strong pair of scores on the penultimate day of competition in Scarlino, Italy.
After scoring no worse than third from the first three racing days, Platoon’s nine points aggregate may represent their weakest day so far, but their hallmark ability to keep things simple, work hard, concentrate on achieving clear lanes of breeze and so always make steady gains through each race again held true.
The German-flagged team lead the current 2016 world champions, Quantum Racing, by two points, ensuring a thrilling title showdown between the two Quantum Sails powered crews to be decided over two final races, Saturday, when breezes are forecast to be the strongest of the week, 17-21kts according to this evening’s forecasts.
In the first race of the day, Race 6 of the championship, Platoon recovered from tenth to sixth, one place ahead of nearest rivals Quantum Racing. Similarly in the second contest – sailed in a modest southerly breeze – John Kostecki and Jordi Calafat engineered another ascent through from a seemingly difficult and slightly distant fifth at the first windward turn to finish third, chasing their second placed title rivals, Quantum Racing, across the finish line.
“John is doing a great job in how he positions us making sure we can sail in clear air. He has a great feel for it, but we have a great team that is really working hard. For example, we actually only have quite a small shore team – by the standards of other, bigger teams – but we work hard,” explains Spanish round the world ace, Pepe Ribes, boat captain, crew boss and pitman.
“We will not change anything for the last day. The forecast for us is great, just what we would like. We would love to win the world title, of course, why not? But our goal is to win the season.”
Platoon’s America’s Cup winning mainsail trimmer Dirk De Ridder adds: “We haven’t had great starts but we’ve been able to sail through the fleet quite nicely, which is always a good feeling. Tomorrow, it’s going to be all on. We’re only two points ahead which is basically nothing, so it’s going to be a good battle.”
Just as within an equivalent F1 team, inside the Quantum Sails race teams camps, there will be no change in the free and open sharing of information between the different crews, which share an overall coach and performance analyst in James Lyne. It will be business as usual, and may the best team win.
Five time holders of the world title and current 52 SUPER SERIES champions, Quantum Racing – here under tactician Terry Hutchinson – have the hard wired winning mentality. Harm Müller-Spreer’s team are the form team of the moment. They wavered in Miami when they led into the last day in March, but conditions were lighter than are expected for the super Saturday showdown.
Andy Soriano’s Alegre is on course for a second consecutive podium in Scarlino after their second last year. A new mast, fitted since Miami, has added a click of extra power and Andy Horton has proven a steadying, motivating influence as tactician. But their cushion over Azzurra is – like that between the top two protagonists – only two points.
Standings after seven races
1. Platoon (GER, Harm Müller-Spreer), (2,3,2,2,2,6,3) 20 points.
2. Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, USA), (1,2,8,1,1,7,2) 22 points.
3. Alegre (Andy Soriano GBR/USA), (5,6,4,4,3,2,6) 30 points.
4. Azzurra (Roemmers Family, ITA/ARG), (3,1,6,8,6,4,4) 32 points.
5. Gladiator (Tony Langley, GBR) (6,10,1,3,8,10,1) 39 points.
6. Provezza (Ergin Imre, TUR) (RDG6.3,8,10,6,4,5,5) 44.3 points.
7. Sled (Takashi Okura, USA), (4,9,7,9,7,1,8) 45 points.
8. Rán Racing (Niklas Zennström, SWE), (10,5,5,7,9,3,7) 46 points.
9. Sorcha (Peter Harrison, GBR), (7,4,3,10,10,8,10) 52 points.
10. Bronenosec (Vladimir Liubomirov, RUS), (8,7,9,5,5,9,9) 52 points.