52 Super Series heads to Newport RI

In the 13 year history of the 52 SUPER SERIES it is hard to remember a level of excitement shared so universally through the fleet ahead of next week’s first ever circuit regatta to be hosted by the New York Yacht Club on the historic racing waters off Newport, Rhode Island.  

Racing at the XS 52 SUPER SERIES Newport RI Trophy starts with an official practice race Monday, points racing from Tuesday. This second event of the 2024 season sits as a valuable showcase enjoying centre stage in the New York Yacht Club’s 150 boat 170th Annual Regatta and Race Week presented by Rolex. The 10 boat TP52 fleet from seven different nations race through until Sunday and on Friday have a chance to compete on the club’s prestigious Round the Island race.

Welcoming the circuit Commodore L. Jay Cross of the New York Yacht Club said :

“We are extremely proud to be hosting the first two 52 Super Series events in North America in more than seven years. This circuit represents the cutting edge of monohull racing, talent and technology, and we’re excited to see them take on the Newport scene as part of our 170th Annual Regatta and Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex.”

Swapping like for like, winners for winners….

Whilst the winners of the first regatta of the season, Ergin Imre’s team, are now ‘between boats’ awaiting the summer launch of their new Provezza, the strength and depth of the fleet is, however, maintained as the Plattner family’s South African flagged Phoenix – which has US favorite, America’s Cup winner Ed Baird as tactician – return to the circuit.

Indeed in a sense it’s a ‘like for like’ swap as the winners of the first 2024 regatta may now be missing but the returnees, Phoenix, took a handsome victory at the last event of 2023 out of Puerto Portals, Mallorca.

Welcome to Disneyland?

The visit to one of the world sailboat racing’s Meccas is long overdue and is highly anticipated all the way through the fleet, from Newport residents and regulars, to hardened pros who have been racing here for decades, to first timers like Shawn and Tina Kang’s Alpha + from Hong Kong China

“For most of us on board coming from Asia all the venues are new and exciting, it is part of the enjoyment of the circuit, but Newport is going to be really special. We are all looking forwards so much. We can’t quite believe we have rented a house on America’s Cup Avenue.”

Chuckles Steve Trebitcsh, program manager for Alpha +

Hometown heroes and high hopes

Actually the regatta will see the highest number of boats ever to sail under the burgee of a host club. Three of the ten TP52ss sail for the New York Yacht Club and all have a fighting chance of delivering the win. Doug De Vos’ Quantum Racing powered by American Magic are of course affiliated to the club’s New York Yacht Club American Magic America’s Cup challenge – providing a pathway for young US sailors – and can certainly be considered to be among the XS Trophy favorites.

Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Interlodge are proud New York Yacht Club members and the couple and their team have worked hard to bring the regatta to their home waters. And Takashi Okura’s Sled crew race for the club and are 2022 circuit champions and Rolex TP52 World Champions. Mr Okura also owns the 12 Metre US 30 Freedom based in Newport on which most of the Sled crew also race. And Britain’s Tony Langley whose primary club is the Royal Thames Yacht Club is a longtime a club member who has loved racing out of Newport for more than five years and kept a second TP52 there.

52 Super Series

Stars and Stripes on the Palma podium, so……

Hopes of a home win are readily reinforced by the fact that the US trio took second to fourth at the 52 SUPER SERIES Palma Vela Sailing Week, the opening event of 2024. Quantum Racing powered by American Magic was second, Interlodge third and Sled fourth.

Interlodge’s Kiwi tactician Cameron Appleton has been settled in Newport for nearly two decades and reflects on the interest already shown by the passionate, knowledgeable sailing community.

“Coming here is long overdue. It has already been exciting to see how much attention the boats have drawn in the shipyard, and so it is going to be very special sailing these boats in Newport. Locally everybody is into it. Newport is of course a sailing town, like Cowes in the UK, people understand sailing and the long history here of the America’s Cup and it is so ingrained into the culture here. People pay attention and get excited.”

Enthuses Appleton who guides an Interlodge crew which has a number of Newport residents.
 

Good times….

Appleton consider the local boats won’t feel any additional pressure beyond what is normal,

“ I think the pressure is more wanting to see Newport in all its finery, all its colours and showing the best conditions. Racing is the racing because wherever we go there is the same pressure. We always want to do the best we can and give the team and the owners a great experience. I don’t think that side of if changes. We want to see the event highlighted and everyone have such a really good time here.”

Bursting with pride at the prospect of hosting the circuit at home, Interlodge’s project manager Kris Matthews is Newport born and bred. His father was in the racing boat business and Kris caught the very end of the glory years of the Maxi class heyday in his early days of becoming a pro sailor,

The New York YC have been keen to get a fleet of this calibre on the race course at this regatta for a few years. And everyone has worked so hard to make this happen, all set in the middle of a 150 boat regatta. It will be a really cool spectacle and hats off to everyone for making it happen. It will be a great shop window for the 52 SUPER SERIES and the TP52 Class. Here we are with ORC 52s in the area, there will be 25 IC37s racing, there is a great ORC B fleet. Until now the 52 SUPER SERIES has been visible only in Europe and a little bit in Florida, so this is a great opportunity to show off the 52 SUPER SERIES and what it is all about and the level of racing for the people who have only ever seen it on line.”

Fragomens are hosts

Owners Austin and Gwen Fragomen will host the owners’ dinner at Harbor Court, Austin is on the board of trustees of the Club. He will steer Interlodge whilst Gwen is campaigning their Botin  44 footer at the Annual Regatta with her own crew.

But skipper-tactician Victor Diaz de Leon, new strategist Nevin Snow and the Quantum Racing powered by American Magic crew showed great regatta and circuit winning potential in early May in Mallorca. More than anything now they would love to win in Newport for the club and owner DeVos who is such a keen supporter of and Team Principal of New York Yacht Club American Magic challenge.

“I like our chances the best!”

Smiles Ed Reynolds, Quantum Racing’s project director.

“But for all that I think this event is wide open, as wide open as any event we have done. I think every event brings pressure because every race counts, it is relentless. I do think it would be extra special to win here though. If you had told me we would be second coming into the second event of the season I would have been happy with that. We have had a number of opportunities to close out regattas last season and this I think we just need to learn to close.”

On top of the world in Newport

But as the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit class, the fleet has top sailors all the way though the fleet who have won in Newport. Matthews cites the buzz of the Farr 40 one designs more than a decade ago as the last time the town was so engaged in a grand prix circuit race.

The last Rolex Farr 40 World Championships to be held in Newport were in 2013 and were won by Italy’s Enfant Terrible team led by none other than Vasco Vascotto – now the four times 52 SUPER SERIES champion tactician of Platoon. But Sled’s strategist Ado Stead also landed that same World title in Newport alongside Russell Coutts in 2006 as also did Sled’s new coach Adam Beashel on these waters 24 years ago on Southern Star.

For sure although the notion of ‘home field’ advantage does not hold water here, past world champions, Olympic medallists and America’s Cup winner share the same passion for a regular pilgrimage to Newport.

“There are places in the world of sport which are untouchable, Wimbledon for tennis, the San Siro for football and Newport for sailing. You are sailing in the great temple of world sailing. And for me it is a special, special place as I won the Farr 40 worlds here many years ago. I fell in the water in the first race, was picked up, finished fifth and still went on to win the world title.”

Vascotto laughs.

Vascotto and the crew of Harm Müller-Spreer’s 2024 circuit championship winning Platoon are looking to improve on the disappointing outing in Palma with their brand new boat.

“We need just a little more time with the boat. We only had it for a very short period before Palma and that was in very light airs in flat water so it really was all new then and it is going to take a little bit of time to learn the boat. We are dead happy with the boat, it is just a pity we did not have more prep time before. Alegre had that little bit more and it showed. We will get better but it will take some time. We had the last boat six years and so knew all the systems and targets perfectly.”

Cautions Morgan Reeser the Platoon coach.

Contenders all….

But Palma also showed that the likes of Langley’s Gladiator, Andy Soriano’s new Alegre or indeed Phoenix have the potential to win what is the first of two 52 SUPER SERIES events, the next being the Rolex TP52 World Championship in July.

Follow all of the 52 SUPER SERIES circuit races live on Youtube

Circuit races start each day at midday local time Newport RI (CET – 6 hours) from Tuesday to Sunday. Friday is the Round the Island race.

Entries

ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano
ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn and Tina Kang
GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley
INTERLODGE (USA), Austin and Gwen Fragomen
PAPREC (FRA), Jean-Luc Petithuguenin
PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso and Tina Plattner
PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer
QUANTUM RACING POWERED BY AMERICAN MAGIC (USA), Doug DeVos
SLED (USA), Takashi Okura

52 SUPER SERIES – Pure Performance
www.52superseries.com

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