The fourth regatta of the five-event 52 Super Series season for 2022 opens on Monday in beautiful Tuscany, Italy with the official practice race for the Royal Cup 52 Super Series Scarlino.
Points scoring starts Tuesday on racing waters that the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit has visited twice, for the first time in 2016 when Quantum Racing won and then in 2017 when Platoon lifted the Rolex TP52 World Championship title.
However, before racing starts, the competing teams will be doubly focussed on making the very best use of practice time. Several crews have changes. Some are by choice, others by necessity, which will need as much time and carefully optimised effort to ensure performance is the best it can be come Tuesday.
Even for others with no changes, after exactly two months away from 52 Super Series racing a few drills and practice starts will surely not go amiss.
After winning in Puerto Portals, Mallorca in late July, the Plattner family’s Phoenix hold a narrow circuit lead of just two points over Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing, which won the first two regattas of the season. The Phoenix team are proud to welcome back owner-driver Hasso Plattner to steer Phoenix at his first event since Cape Town in 2020.
“We are looking forwards to it, the team is excited and Hasso is super excited to be coming back,” Tony Norris, project manager for the Phoenix team said.
“Hasso was unfortunate to miss out in Portals as he had a last-minute health hiccup. He has been doing some sailing and we will make the most of the practice days, but he has sailed a lot of different boats to the highest level over the years he will slip back into it,” enthuses.
Tactician, Tom Slingsby, notes: “Personally I have never sailed in Scarlino, but I’m looking forward to. I’ll be arriving late from the Cadiz SailGP event, so I will have to learn fast. I think we are confident that we can perform well as a team in all conditions but there are many teams who are also confident.”
As well as Hasso returning, Tina Plattner, who has missed this season due to back problems, is expected to do some light training on Phoenix with a view to steering in Barcelona for the final regatta.
Quantum Racing see inspirational owner-driver, Doug DeVos, return to the hot seat on Quantum Racing. After DeVos missed July’s Mallorca – where Quantum Racing finished fourth, 19 points behind Phoenix – the American flagged team’s afterguard are back in their usual positions. However, missing will be long-time mainsheet trimmer and four times America’s Cup winning Kiwi, Warwick Fleury. He is recovering from a health problem and will be substituted in Scarlino by Australian, Chris Hosking.
Andy Soriano’s Alegre bid farewell to hugely experienced British tactician, Adrian Stead, who has stepped down to spend more time with his family. Replacing him is Australian 470 double Olympic medallist, Will Ryan, who will sail as strategist.
A past 470 world champion, Nic Asher moves to the tactician role. Scarlino 2016 was Asher’s first 52 Super Series regatta as strategist when Alegre finished second. The two former 470 champions are looking forwards to working together.
“We have known each other more than ten years and get on well as friends sailing other classes together. We have similar ideas, so Will was the first call. It’s good to have some younger blood coming into the class,” Asher says.
Racing starts Monday with the official practice race and runs Tuesday to Saturday.
Overall rankings after three regattas:
1 Phoenix (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 27+42+25 = 94 pts.
2 Quantum Racing (USA), Doug DeVos, 19+33+44 = 96 pts.
3 Platoon (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 26+40+51 = 117 pts.
4 Sled (USA), Takashi Okura, 43,5+44+36 = 123,5 pts.
5 Alegre (GBR), Andy Soriano, 43+41+52 = 136 pts.
6 Provezza (TUR), Ergin Imre, 61+54+42 = 157 pts.
7 Interlodge (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 39+71+50 = 160 pts.
8 Vayu (THAI), Whitcraft Family, 45+54+79 = 178 pts.
9 Gladiator (GBR), Tony Langley, 60+73+71 = 204 pts