52 Super Series returns to the Puerto Portals next week
52 Super Series returns to the Puerto Portals next week
After two regattas on the Atlantic, May in Galicia and June in Cascais, Portugal the 2022 52 Super Series returns to the Mediterranean next week, to the perennial high summer favourite venue, Puerto Portals, Mallorca.
Puerto Portals 52 Super Series Sailing Week sees Quantum Racing, winners of both events so far this season, arrive on the Bay of Palma carrying a 14 points lead on the overall standings for the season-long championship. The US flagged team have shown a high level of consistency, sailing smartly with good all round speed and generally low risk strategies.
But the championship leaders return to Puerto Portals, a venue where they have not won since 2018, without their talismanic owner-driver Doug DeVos. A long standing, historic commitment to race the Chicago-Mac race at home each and every year, means DeVos will be absent and Terry Hutchinson will take the helm of Quantum Racing. Usual strategist Argentina's Olympic bronze medalist Lucas Calabrese takes on the responsibility of the tactician's role ably supported by navigator Michele Ivaldi.
"It will be business as usual. We have done plenty of training days in this configuration and we already tested our comms and systems. Terry is a great driver and Lucas has proven himself to be a very strong tactician."
Terry Hutchinson stated:
"For certain our preferred afterguard set up is with Doug driving. We did the Valencia training session in April in the configuration we will sail here with Lucas doing tactics, Michele navigating, and me helming. Lucas and I also cross trained in a J-70 during Charleston Race week to work on our communication and learn our subtleties of how we talk. We will approach the event much in the same way we did the last one. Working on consistent starting, boat handling, and speed. If one of those is not firing I would suspect it could be a hard week. Our approach is refine the areas on the boat that will bet performance improvements over the week. The fleet is quite tight so we know we have to keep pushing."
While Quantum Racing have established a certain momentum already this season, the Bay of Palma is a favourite of many teams as well it being a much more difficult, subtle arena on which to win on than its common perception as a one-way, one sided race track. In particular some navigators and weather gurus question how the recent super hot temperatures, which seem set to continue in the Balearics, will affect the sea breeze.
"It all depends on a number of different factors. For example it can depend on the strength of the northerly gradient. Two weeks ago at the Superyacht Cup (racing on the J Class Ranger) we ended up racing a couple of days in that offshore breeze, but in general Palma is great for sea breeze generation. Besides in these situations I defer to my good friend, local expert Jordi Calafat (Platoon's strategist)!"
Muses Platoon's navigator Jules Salter.
"For us we like a bit of variety. In any weather it is about getting off the start line best and being the fastest boat after two or three minutes. But Portals has been good for us and our boat and Provezza are suited to the conditions. But this is such a tough fleet now. We are doing everything to catch up Quantum but so too there are others coming in hot, like Alegre who if they can convert their eighths into fifths could be beating us. But between us on Platoon we do feel like we know the Bay and have a certain level of confidence."
Harm Müller-Spreer's German flagged Platoon team won at Puerto Portals last year and the previous time the 52 Super Series visited in 2019 when they won the second of their two Rolex TP52 World Championship titles. Platoon lie second on the championship table.
Ergin Imre's Turkish flagged Provezza, winners in 2017 – the second Vrolijk design in the fleet alongside Platoon – started to show flashes of what they are capable of last month in Cascais. They are at least overdue a podium finish on the Bay of Palma.
"If we get our ducks in a row from day one then who knows? At the first event our helmsman got ill and we had to replace him and so we had to kind of start from scratch at the second event and so we have been irregular, good in some parts and poor in others. But going back to Portals is good, Portals and Provezza have always mixed together very well. Maybe we can make a good comeback here."
Opens Provezza's navigator Nacho Postigo, a Palma based guru who is renowned for his knowledge of the Bay's subtleties.
"The heat could make the sea breezes more elusive, maybe lighter and more difficult to predict. We have seen a fight recently between the sea breeze and the gradient, but once the sea breeze is established we have seen some great conditions. But with Portals in July rather than August which it often is, then generally I think it will be still good for the sea breezes."
"I think Quantum are very strong at the moment. The changes they have made to the boat are good and the combination they have at the moment is working very well. But there are a lot of other strong teams. I don't think Quantum are unstoppable at the moment. There will be teams challenging them in Portals and I hope Provezza will be one."
The Spanish navigator concludes.
Puerto Portals, just less than a year ago, saw the debut of the Whitcraft family's Thailand flagged Vayu team. They have impressed at both Baiona and Cascais, being among the leaders early in each event. Could Portals see them crack the top group this time?
"We are excited about returning to Portals where it kind of all started for us with the 52 Super Series. Everyone enjoyed Cascais and we set standards we did not expect to get to. And as the week progressed we kind of ended up down where we expected to be. But we are definitely in a very, very different place to where we were a year ago. The funny thing is that in Cascais we actually made big improvements on these last couple of days in Cascais. Our starting and our control of the boat for example was better and that is the aim. We are just chipping away. And in Portals we will have a few little crew changes with more family members and more Thai sailors on board which is all part of the plan. We have a bunch of new sails. We are just looking forwards to making our little, next steps in our performance."
Says Vayu's Pom Green.
Other notable changes to the team line ups include the welcome return to Phoenix of owner-driver Hasso Plattner who placed fourth in 2018 and seventh in 2019 just behind sixth placed Quantum Racing, whilst Cameron Appleton joins Interlodge as tactician for this event only. Usual tactician Ed Baird is fulfilling his long term commitment to sail with Doug DeVos on Windquest on the Chicago Mac race.
Racing at the Puerto Portals 52 Super Series Sailing Week starts with the official practice race on Thursday 21st July and then runs with points races Friday 22nd to Tuesday 26th July.