Two official training races today gave the ten 52 Super Series Barcelona Sailing Week teams a final chance to re-acquaint themselves with the race course area and reading the light winds which are likely to prevail this week, on the eve of the races which will decide the final placings of the 2022 season.
Race winners in the gentle eight to 10kts breeze today were Alegre and Platoon. On paper the top of the table tussle for the title might prove largely to be between Quantum Racing – bidding for their fifth season title and Phoenix who are just five points behind after the four regattas sailed so far this season. Stepping into the hot seat on Phoenix is owner-driver Tina Plattner who returns to steer Phoenix for the first time since she raced in her home city of Cape Town in February 2020. If she feels ring rusty she did not show it today and was steering the boat quickly, according to tactician Tom Slingsby.
“It is great to have Tina back. She maybe has not steered in a few years but she is picking it up again very quickly and sails the boat very fast in a straight line. In the first race today we sailed around people upwind and so that is a good sign. Quantum Racing are the favourites here and have won the title many times. We won our first event in Portals a couple of regattas back and now we are in with a shot to win the overall. But we are the underdogs we have nothing to lose and will just give it everything and see how it stacks up. We are excited as a team.”
Back in the 52 SUPER SERIES fold are Jean Luc Petithuguenin’s French team on Paprec, a boat which is new to them. This was their first official practice race, sailing with a crew nearly half of whom are new to the boat and the Series. Ocean and match racing ace Cedric Chateau is not available to steer the boat this week as he is competing on the Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic race but Paprec gave a good account of themselves and helm Hugues Destremau sees great potential for the future and explains why team owner Petihuguenin was so keen to come back to the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit,
“Today we had a chance to try some sails and different modes. We were well placed in the second race until an issue with a gybe set but we are not finishing last. But there is a long way to go, plenty of room for improvements. But we are a new crew and I am standing in as helmsman and we are half the team different to next season. This circuit is the ultimate. It is so much fun and our owner Jean Luc wants to do it. He loves the top, top level, he loves to compete with the best and loves the close contact racing, boat for boat, he loves that. Jean Luc now tells us we have the best boat and we need to go on and win. But from what we have seen it is encouraging and I think we can win some races and maybe an event if we hang in there, keep learning and work hard. But now we have everything we need.”
Said Destremau who sailed on Paprec in 2012 when they first joined the circuit.
Winds look set to be light for the first few days of the regatta as confirmed by Barcelona’s double Olympic medal winning hero Luis Doreste who this week is local knowledge expert for Alegre.
“The water is very hot, but on the other hand it is still quite warm as well which can create some thermal enhancement to the breeze. So far we have had good conditions, but it seems there will be light winds but the good thing is that each day recently we have had more than the forecast models have said. So we can be lucky.”
Platoon proved quick in the light today, conditions which were traditionally one of the Vrolijk design’s strongest points, but their Victor Mariño suggests many of their other teams have closed down their edge.
“Ours is a design that works very well in light winds. Before we had real advantage but now the others have improved, but even so I think we still have a certain advantage”
And Mariño suggests new tactician Vasco Vascotto is adding the ‘X factor’
“Vasco is doing a magnificent job, our goal is to adapt to his style, and although we are already thinking about next season. But most of all this week we want races, as many as possible to have more opportunities to score points from the boats ahead of us in the general standings”.
Platoon are third on the circuit standings, 23 points behind the Plattner family’s Phoenix and 28 points behind leader Quantum Racing. Fourth are the defending 2021 champions Takashi Okura’s Sled, 4.5 points behind Platoon.
Racing is scheduled to start Tuesday with a 1300hrs warning signal. Follow the racing LIVE streamed every day on the 52 SUPER SERIES website and social network channels.