The 52 Super Series will celebrate its 10th 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, Barcelona’s prestigious Trofeo Conde de Godo regatta, when five TP52s took the start lines and four completed the full regatta.
Barcelona Sailing Week looks set to be a fitting climax to the most even, most competitive season of the circuit’s first 10 years.
Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing lead the season standings by five points ahead of the Plattner family’s Phoenix. Takashi Okura’s 2021 champion Sled and Harm Müller Spreer’s are not far behind and both are especially 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 10 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. It will be supported with expert comment from four-time Series champion Guille Parada.
DeVos’s US flagged Quantum Racing has won three of the four regattas contested so far this season. All of the victories secured were with the charismatic American owner steering.
Although this record might suggest they have a enjoyed a certain edge, in fact every event this season has gone to the wire. 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.
Quantum Racing is pitching to make 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 the team 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.
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 is 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-point 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 boat speed 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,” Calafat said.
Her record this season means Quantum Racing is favourite 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’s easy to be an underdog, you have nothing to lose, but teams that have established a level of proficiency and are expected to be there at the end, that takes a whole different mindset.
“It’s 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’s 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.”
He cautions, “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.”
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 while Sled is 32.5 points behind in fourth place. Platoon finished strongly in Scarlino as the new afterguard line up started to work well.
Provisional standings after four of five regattas:
- QUANTUM RACING (USA), Doug DeVos, 19+33+44+34 = 130 pts.
- PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 27+42+25+41 = 135 pts.
- PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 26+40+51+41= 158 pts.
- SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 43,5+44+36+39 = 162,5 pts.
- ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 43+41+52+46 = 182 pts.
- PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 61+54+42+46 = 203 pts.
- VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 45+54+79+54 = 232 pts.
- INTERLODGE (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 39+71+50+75 = 235 pts.
- GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 60+73+71+77,5 = 278,5 pts.