The new TP52 version of Azzurra races starting tomorrow at PalmaVela
The season’s first event for the boat that flies the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s burgee is about to begin, in anticipation of the 52 Super Series, that sees Azzurra as defending champion. Olympic legend Santiago Lange is debuting as tactician.
The newest Azzurra, the fourth TP52 version to bear this historical name, was launched in Valencia in March and is now ready for her regatta debut at PalmaVela. Ten of the teams that will be competing in the upcoming 52 Super Series are racing here as a test event before the Series’ official beginning May 22 in Sibenik, Croatia. This is the first event aboard for Azzurra’s new tactician, the Argentinian sailing legend Santiago Lange, gold medallist at the Rio Games where he was the protagonist of one of the brightest moments in modern Olympic history.
PalmaVela is a classic event for kicking off the Mediterranean sailing season seeing how Palma is the home port and base to so may yachts, including Azzurra and the larger part of the TP52 fleet.
Starting tomorrow, May third at 12 noon there will be over 130 boats divided into 13 Classes including Wally and Melges 40 Classes and three Swan One Design Classes, racing on four different race courses. The weather forecast for the week calls for unusually instable conditions with northerly winds turning towards the west at 8 to 18 knots.
For the new Azzurra this will be the first time competing against the major part of her season’s adversaries. Azzurra will be defending her third title in the 52 Super Series, and this year will be even harder fought than ever. There are nine new yachts racing, including Azzurra, and all aspects of the new boats are expected to have been improved: stronger aft sections, lower centres of gravity, increased rigidity, better weight distribution and even more ergonomic and fluid movement aboard.
In the upcoming season Azzurra will be racing against adversaries who are very determined: Platoon was last year’s first runner up not to mention Azzurra’s historical nemesis Quantum Racing, third in the 2017 Series. This team wants their glory in the Series back and will also be competing in the 36th America’s Cup as American Magic.
Gladiator must also be watched closely; launched last year, this was the first boat with the latest generation TP52 hull. Provezza is also a strong contender and both the latter teams were getting stronger and stronger towards the end of last year’s series. Speaking of the America’s Cup, Sibenik will see the new Luna Rossa debut, while a some champions from Team New Zealand will be part of Sled’s team. Palma will also see Onda and Phoenix debut; both of these newly launched boats are determined to star in the upcoming season.
More than an event to win, PalmaVela is the chance to fine-tune the boats get a feeling for the competition ahead. This is the dress rehearsal before the opening act of the 52 Super Series 2018 and it looks like it’s going to be a stellar season. But nobody is going to be holding back on the water even here in Palma.
Guillermo Parada, skipper: “After sailing in light air earlier here we have been able to test the new boat in the stronger conditions that came with a passing front. Every day of practice we get more data to analyse and we can tune the boat better. I’m sure that we’ll arrive in Croatia strong and ready for our season’s debut.
Riccardo Bonadeo, YCCS Commodore: “Fair winds to all of team Azzurra for this debut on the water in anticipation of the beginning of the 2018 Super Series and thanks once again to our club members and Azzurra’s owners the Roemmers family; it’s thanks to them that the YCCS burgee and the name Azzurra are sailing and competing at an international level. We know that it’s going to be tough to defend our title as 52 Super Series champions, but we all love a challenge and the new boat will let our team express their talent at the highest level. I want to give a warm welcome to our new tactician Santiago Lange, a sailing legend who we are proud to count as a YCCS member.”