52 Super Series in 2014
In just six weeks the US 52 Super Series first regatta sets sail over 20-24 January at Quantum Key West, an early season springboard for a season, that will see the fleet move on to Miami, followed by European events in Capri, for the first time ever, Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Palma Mallorca and Ibiza.
Building on the success of last year’s initiative to take the 52 Super Series to America for the first time, seven 52s will be competing at Quantum Key West, including the 2013 world champions, Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing and 2013 Key West winners Azzurra.
Of the five US-flagged boats which are expected to compete, three crews will be new to 52 Super Series - Anema & Core (ex-Platoon 2006), Hooligan (ex-2x Med Cup winning ETNZ) – which has just been bought by US owner Gunther Buerman from a very successful period in Australia, and Sled (ex Rio/Synergy), owned by Takashi Okura.
When the US 52 Super Series then moves on to Miami on 5-9 March at least one more American crew will join for the 52 East Coast Championship. Vesper, owned by Jim Swartz, raced there in 2013 with the owner steering and Gavin Brady as tactician. They will be back, reported to be with a new ultra high modulus carbon Hall Spars rig and carbon rigging, so should be quicker than ever. Enquiries from other active owners seeking competitive boats to charter or buy give solid hope that one additional 52 materialises here.
Rob Weiland, TP52 Class Manager commented: “We are really pleased with the increased interest to own and race 52s in the USA and feel like it will be a solid foundation for the 2014 season to build from. This will be the season in which we start the final transition to 2015 which we already know looks very exciting.
“The US 52 Super Series really opens the door to 52 Super Series racing for all. It shows a wide variety of TP52 optimisations, now possible under the Wild Card Invitation scheme to encourage older TP52s to 'speed up' to the performance level of the most recent boats. In the Med a similar trend is visible with boats like Aquila, B2, Paprec and Provezza getting extra pace from upgrades in draft, composite rigging and sail area variations.”
It will be the first time ever that the TP52s, as a class, visit the beautiful surroundings of the Italian island of Capri when the 52 Super Series is hosted over 20-24 May by Rolex Capri Sailing Week and the International Maxi Organization. The 52s will share the event with the Maxi fleet although their schedule is different, the Maxis opening with a 48 hours offshore race. But Thursday’s coastal race will see both fleets race together.
“Capri is possibly going to be a light winds venue, something like 80% of the time less than 10 knots at this time of year, but there is also the chance of getting much more, so it will be a very good challenge for the fleet,” Weiland suggests.
Capri will be the first regatta of the season that the 52s will race in the 2014 ‘transition’ form, that is with longer bowsprits and 10sqm more spinnaker area which should make the boats appreciably quicker downwind, as a precursor to the advent of the 2015 TP52 Rule when all boats will be 200kg lighter and will have composite rigging and the mainsail area will get a few metres larger.
Capri will also be the first 52 Super Series event for the first boat to be built to the 2015 rule, the Botin Partners designed, King Marine built Phoenix for Brazilian owner Eduardo de Souza Ramos. Phoenix is scheduled to race first at Palma Vela.
Weiland anticipates one more new build 2015 rule 52 to be launched and raced later this summer.
A further five teams have already pledged to build new for 2015.
The ciricuit then moves on to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo for the second regatta of four in Europe. Held over 10-14 June, this will also be the 2014 TP52 World Championship, before heading once again to the ever popular week long Copa del Rey in Palma over 4-9 August, Mallorca, which traditionally attracts the biggest 52 fleet of the season in Europe.
And after a very successful first visit to Ibiza in 2013, the final event of the 52 Super Series, will be hosted by MarinaIbiza over 17-21 September.
The format for the 2014 season is the same as 2013. The 52 Super Series comprises four events in Europe, aggregating all scores with no discards. The US 52 Super Series takes total scores over Key West and Miami. And there is, once again, an aggregate series for US and European regattas which is awarded the 52 Super Series Atlantic Cup.
Weiland continues: “Where other traditional development grand prix classes, like the Volvo Race have by necessity chosen to go one-design, the TP52 Class is still solidly behind the fun and energy that developing race boats and their equipment gives its owner and crew. Personally I find it a sad thing is that the demise of traditional development classes reduces the number of people that now get the chance to learn and understand about what makes a boat tick.
“We are confident that as the TP52 boats are now are one of the few options left which are a full scale test of design and construction of boats, sails and equipment in high level real time competition, we will continue to see the ongoing growth of the TP52."
Agustin Zulueta, CEO of the 52 Super Series, concludes: “We begin 2014 with high expectations . The 52 Super Series is more consolidated than ever before. It is the perfect pure performance arena for talented owner drivers and skilled amateur crews to mix with the best professionals.
“In 2013 year we had an average fleet of eight boats. In this coming year we expect the average to go up. Our choice of reliable and beautiful venues produces an incredible sailing platform, making our circuit not only attractive to European owners but also to others further from further afield, like Mr Souza Ramos coming from Brazil, attracted by our competition.
"The venues for 2014 are spectacular with good winds predicted and fun sites. We are working hard to come up with an equally impressive schedule for 2015 based on a mix of new and trusted venues.
“ Many cities and their marinas are already bidding to host 52 Super Series regattas in 2015. In the coming months the owners will be asked for their input to help us choose the 2015 venues from a pre-selection that meets our high location and sailing condition standards to ensure maximum support from competitors and sponsors. We have a big project ahead.”