Sibenik – The race to be ready for what promises to be the most competitive 52 Super Series yet ends on Tuesday. Months of interpretation, innovation, inspiration and thousands of hours of sheer perspiration come to a head on Tuesday when 12 TP52s – nine of them being brand new boats – line up on the start line for the first regatta of the 2018 552 Supere Series.
Two teams make their first appearance on the circuit. Challengers of record for the 36th America’s Cup, Luna Rossa start their first 52 Super Series next week with champion tactician Vasco Vascotto sailing in the Prada colours.
Making their debut on the circuit for the first time ever will be Hasso Plattner’s new Phoenix, which has America’s Cup winner Ed Baird as tactician – three times a 52 Super Series winning skipper-helm.
Brazil’s double Olympian Eduardo de Souza Ramos returns to the circuit with a new boat that has five times Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt as tactician.
Two America’s Cup Teams are racing on the 52 Super Series, Luna Rossa and American Magic, the team that combines Doug DeVos’s TP52 Quantum Racing and Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente Maxi 72 programme, which is led by Terry Hutchinson.
The successful formula for the 52 Super Series remains the same. This will be a long season of five regattas, spanning May to September. All races count. There are no discards and so these first few days of the new season, competing with new, freshly launched boats will be crucial. The well prepared that launched early and have trained and raced might be expected to have the advantage over other the crews that have only launched more recently. But, as most crews get to grips with their new boats and learn the hidden intricacies, there might also be an early advantage for the teams with tried and tested boats from last season.
The Šibenik 52 Super Series Sailing Week starts with the official practice race on Tuesday 22nd of May, with the first points scoring Windward-Leeward Races planned for Wednesday. There is one coastal race scheduled for Thursday and thereafter Windward-Leeward contests run through to end of play on Sunday.
It will be the first time that the TP52 fleet have ventured to the beautiful Adriatic coast of Croatia. And the sailors are in for a treat. Historic Šibenik dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, and is built around a beautiful square. It is becoming an increasingly sought after tourist destination. It is located on the most beautiful part of the Adriatic coast and is the gateway to the breathtaking landscapes of the Krka and Kornati National Parks.
Kristjan Staničić, Head of the Croatian National Tourist Board, said: “Our pristine nature, the sea and all of our islands highlight the best of Croatia and represent an enormously rich resource base that places our country among the very best nautical destinations.”
Šibenik Mayor, Željko Burić, adds: “Both the locals, and our guests will witness a first-rate, extremely important sports event that will have a positive effect on Šibenik’s tourist results and its image in the world.”
The second event of the year, the 52 Super Series Zadar Royal Cup starts nearby on June 20th. Bringing two 52 Super Series regattas to Croatia represents a significant investment for the Šibenik and Zadar hosts, D-Marin – part of the Dogus Group – for the local towns and for the national tourist authority.
D-Marin CEO Burak Baykan says: “We are extremely proud and happy that D-Marin has been given this unique opportunity to host our biggest nautical event of the year.”
The form book counts for nothing this early in a new season, for which so many new boats are launched. But the current 52 Super Series champions Azzurra won the PalmaVela warm-up regatta earlier this month with Argentina’s Olympic champion Santi Lange settling into his new role as tactician. They launched early and have trained hard. Quantum Racing launched just three days before PalmaVela, but finished second with new helm Dean Barker steering. German-flagged world champions Platoon showed great upwind speed on their new Vrolijk design, and finished third but it was evident that all of the fleet is more closely matched than ever.
The most recently launched TP52 is that of the Prada-backed Luna Rossa, the challengers of record for the 36th America’s Cup. The boat was officially launched last Sunday in Italy, in Trieste’s Piazza Unita’ d’Italia. The team made it clear that one of their main goals of their campaign is to encourage a new generation of sailors.
Local hero Vasco Vascotto was also asked to comment on his participation in a campaign that will also include two young sailors also from Trieste: Andrea Tesei and Nicolas Brezzi.
“Obviously, we started last with the construction of the boat, and so we have not had a lot of training. The first event will be a bit of a question mark for us. We need to try and avoid a big loss in the first event, but I am sure we can recover during the season but let’s see. Maybe we will be in good shape, which would be strange because I know how strong the fleet is in the 52 Super Series, and I know for example how much my friends from Azzurra have trained this period, but for us this will be an important season to understand how to work together, how to manage the problems and how to grow up as not just as a sailing team, but as a big group that an America’s Cup team is.”
Sustainability in sailing will be another key theme for the 52 Super Series this season, as the circuit continues to make incremental steps to create positive change, to influence behaviour and to make sustainability a key global issue in the sport of sailing. As the leading monohull grand prix circuit in the world, the 52 Super Series works hand-in-hand with long time sustainability partners 11th Hour Racing.
The circuit have signed a new agreement with 11th Hour Racing, who have extended their cooperation and support for a further three years, from 2018 to 2020.
With a solid base of commercial partners including Rolex, XS Nation, Peters & May and Code Zero, the 52 Supere Series is also stepping up the level of hospitality events for VIP guests, particularly in Zadar and in Valencia this September.
Entries for Šibenik
Alegre – Andy Soriano (USA/GBR), 2018 Botin
Azzurra – Alberto Roemmers (ARG/ITA), 2018 Botin
Gladiator – Tony Langley (GBR), 2016 Botin
Luna Rossa – Patrizio Bertelli (ITA), 2018 Botin
Onda – Eduardo de Souza Ramos (BRA), 2018 Botin
Paprec Recyclage – Jean Luc Petithuguenin (FRA), 2015 Vrolijk
Phoenix – Hasso/Tina Plattner (RSA), 2018 Botin
Platoon – Harm Müller-Spreer (GER), 2018 Vrolijk
Provezza – Ergin Imre (TUR), 2018 Vrolijk
Quantum Racing – Racing Doug DeVos (USA), 2018 Botin
Sled – Takashi Okura (USA), 2018 Botin
XIO Hurakan – Marco Serafini (ITA), 2013 Botin