The Royal Cup 52 Super Series Scarlino will start with the official training regatta on Monday, September 26, exactly two months after the last fleet clash in Puerto Portals. The competition will be based in Marina di Scarlino and will take place on the beautiful coast of Tuscany, a setting that the world’s leading monohull circuit has already visited twice: in 2016 (with victory for Quantum Racing) and in 2017 (when Platoon achieved the title of world champion). The lockers will be released on Tuesday, September 27, with a program of ten tests until Saturday, October 1. Once again, no discards.
Before the start of hostilities, the teams will try to optimize the training time as much as possible. Not in vain, several crews will debut in Scarlino changes in key positions that require an essential period of adaptation.
Phoenix debuts leadership
After winning in Puerto Portals (Mallorca) at the end of July, the Plattner family’s Phoenix arrives at Scarlino as the leader of the circuit, although with an advantage of only two points over Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing, winner of the first two regattas of the season and current TP52 world champion. Team South Africa setter Hasso Plattner rejoins as helmsman in his first 52 Super Series event since competing in Cape Town in March 2020.
Great news for the team, as recognized by Tony Norris, project manager and helmsman of the Phoenix in Plattner’s absence:
“We are looking forward to it, the team is excited and Hasso is super excited to be back. He was unlucky enough to miss Portals’ appointment due to a last-minute health setback. We will make the most of the training days, but Hasso has sailed many different boats at the highest level over the years and I am sure he will get back on track soon.”
Team tactician Tom Slingsby is also aware of the importance of optimizing time on the water:
“Personally, I have never sailed on Scarlino, but I am looking forward to it. I will be arriving directly from the Cadiz SailGP event (where he is co-helming the Australia SailGP Team), so I will have to learn fast. I think we are confident that we can perform well in all conditions as a team, but there are many others who are probably confident as well.
Phoenix is hoping that Tina Plattner (absent this season due to back problems) will train at Scarlino with a view to her rejoining in Barcelona for the last race of the season (October 24-29).
Quantum Racing gets its talisman back, Doug DeVos. After missing the July regatta in Mallorca –in which they finished fourth, 19 points behind Phoenix–, the charismatic owner returns aboard the American boat with the intention of recovering the leadership achieved in the first two races of the season. The crew will miss main trimmer, New Zealand four-time America’s Cup champion Warwick Fleury, who is recovering from a health problem and will be replaced at Scarlino by Chris Hosking.
Ed Reynolds, director of the current team, highlights, “We will go out to win for Warwick and we would love to see him back, but it will be a bit of a challenge for us, things will not be as automatic as in recent years. We have time to work on it before the event, but I think the backline works very, very well as a group. And we like the configuration of the ship. Fundamentally, we are fast enough to be in the fight.”
Vascotto, with Platoon
After finishing second in Baiona and at the Rolex TP52 World Championship in Cascais, and sixth in Puerto Portals, Harm Müller Spreer’s Platoon occupies third place in the provisional general standings. At Scarlino, the German team will strengthen its aft structure with the addition of Vasco Vascotto to replace John Kostecki in the tactician position. The Italian ace, three-time winner of the 52 Super Series, will join forces with Majorcan strategist Jordi Calafat and British sailor Jules Salter.
“It will be great sailing with Jordi Calafat, who I already admired as a legend when I was racing against him as a child. I am very happy to sail with people like Víctor Mariño, a great sailor and a friend with whom I spent many years on the Farr 40 Nerone, even winning a world championship. I am happy to return to the magical world of the 52 Super Series.”
Müller Spreer, setter of the German team, explains the substitution: “Sometimes you have to make changes. Unfortunately, the first three rounds of the season did not go as we hoped and we are not where we want to be in the standings for the season. Vasco is a tactician with a track record of winning both the TP52 class and many others, and I think he will bring fresh air.”
Olympic gold in Alegre
Andy Soriano’s Alegre also debuts as a tactician. Veteran Adrian Stead leaves the discipline of the British team to spend more time with his family and will be replaced by the hitherto strategist, former 470 world champion Nic Asher. Australian Will Ryan, current 470 Olympic champion, joins the strategist. Nic Asher highlights his affinity with Ryan:
“We have known each other for more than ten years, we get along as friends and we sail together in other classes. We have similar ideas and that’s why Will was the first call. It’s good to bring young blood to the class.” .
Alegre was second at Scarlino in 2016, the first race with Asher as strategist.
“I feel like I have a good track record at Scarlino. It seems that this week there will be changes, so we should see a little bit of everything.
A pedigree trophy
The Royal Cup is one of the most prestigious annual trophies in the TP52 class. Originally named the Royal Cup Challenge Trophy, it was donated in 1995 by King Harald of Norway, Pasquale Landolfi, Willi Illbruck and Yannis Costopoulos to be used as a trophy in the IMS50 races, then the highest rating class in the world. The TP52 was the natural successor, and the first Royal Cup in the class was awarded in 2012. Past winners include Rán Racing, Azzurra, Luna Rossa, Provezza and Quantum Racing, the only team capable of lifting it twice (2013 and 2014). Harm Müller Spreer’s Platoon is the current defender of the Royal Cup after winning the Menorca 52 Super Series Sailing Week in 2021.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism