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Tight At The Top In Barcelona

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  • Tight At The Top In Barcelona

    Winners of two of the season’s three regattas so far, 2023’s circuit leaders Ergin Imr?’s Turkish flagged Provezza made the strongest start to the Rolex TP52 World Championship today in Barcelona where three races were sailed in a light to moderate SSW’ly breeze.

    After missing two days because of insufficient breezes as the worlds finally got under way Provezza once more showed the high level of consistency which is becoming their 2023 hallmark, returning 5,3,1 for the day to lead the 10 boat fleet by two points ahead of Tony Langley’s British flagged Gladiator whilst Andy Soriano’s Alegre lie third, just one point behind their second placed compatriots.

    In the light breezes and flat water the speeds in this very closely matched, highly optimised TP52 fleet are very, very close. And so, just as was predicted before the championship by many of the afterguards, positions changes were all about by only small metres gained and lost around the three windward-leeward courses.

    Defending world champions Quantum Racing powered by American Magic, welcoming back talisman Terry Hutchinson for the week as tactician in their new, ‘young blood’ lineup, started modestly with a ninth but showed encouraging signs in race 2 where they fought back for a fourth. But they were fouled in the third race which dropped them from a potential fourth or fifth to a seventh placed finish which sees them lying eighth overall.

    And winners of the Royal Cup in Menorca last month, double world champions Platoon made a positive opening by winning the first race. After a fifth they led the event after two races but then two successive penalties for rules infringements, resulted in a ninth and Harm M?ller-Spreer’s team drop to fourth, six points off Provezza’s leading aggregate.

    The first race started in around 8 to 10 knots. The fleet was bunched toward the top half of the line with Gladiator nailing the time and distance to start at the gun at the boat. Tony Langley’s team tacked almost immediately, signaling an intense desire to own the right hand side. While Vayu, which started to leeward of the fleet and held on starboard, held the early lead on the tracker, it was Gladiator and Platoon going 1-2 around the first mark, with Alegre in third and Vayu fourth.

    Halfway down the run Gladiator appeared to try a dummy jibe to shake a closing Platoon, which didn’t bite and just kept eating into the lead. At the bottom mark, Platoon had closed enough to force Gladiator to the unfavored offshore gate and the German boat took over the lead. From there Harm Muller-Spreer’s team extended away, rounding the final mark with a comfortable lead and cruising down the run with Gladiator, Alegre and Vayu all holding serve. There were a few changes in the minor placings. Provezza finished fifth in front of Sled. And Phoenix, which was ninth around the first two marks, moved up to seventh. Quantum Racing was eighth, Interlodge ninth and Alpha + 10th.

    Race 2

    There was less consensus among the fleet as to the best place to start for Race 2. While Gladiator and Quantum Racing battled for the right side, the leaders at the top mark came out of the middle with Sled taking a commanding advantage at the first turn, followed by Phoenix and Provezza. Quantum Racing and Gladiator rounded in ninth and 10th. But there was still plenty of opportunity left as the breeze was a little more unsettled both in terms of direction and velocity.

    Takasi Okura’s Sled extended away from the fleet to take a wire to wire win, but there was plenty of excitement behind. Phoenix briefly lost second after pushing the spinnaker drop right up to the leeward gate and putting the sail into the drink, albeit briefly. Provezza took second, but wasn’t able to hold its advantage. Phoenix found a little extra speed on the second upwind leg to reclaim second, which it held to the finish with Provezza finishing third. Meanwhile Quantum Racing charged from ninth to seventh by playing the right side of the course on the first run, and then continued to climb, rounding the second windward mark in fifth and playing a left shift late on the second run into a very solid fourth place. Platoon had a more difficult race, but still finished fifth. Gladiator separated from the fleet on the second beat and jumped from 10th to sixth. Alegre finished seventh, with Interlodge, Vayu and Alpha + rounding out the results. Alpha + had a heartbreaker of a race, holding fourth until the second windward mark when they got caught on a shy layline and had to tack and duck a lineup of five boats.

    Race 3

    The breeze seemed much the same as the previous two races, southerly in the 9 to 11 knot range and the fleet charged off the line in sync, first on starboard and then, after a few minutes on port. The virtual lead shifted from the right side of the course to the left where Gladiator again make a bold call and rounded first, trailed closely by Alegre then Vayu and Provezza. The regatta leaders heading into the race, Platoon and Sled were both shut out at the windward mark and rounded ninth and 10th respectively.

    Provezza took control of the race on the run, jibing away early and finding some pressure and/or a beneficial shift to the left of the other leaders. The Turkish boat would not be caught. The top three boats from the first mark each dropped a place, but were able to hold position for the rest of the race. Alpha +, after the heartbreak of the previous race, rounded each mark in fifth and finished there.

    Phoenix finished sixth, and Quantum Racing American Magic was seventh. Sled took eighth with Platoon ninth and Interlodge, which was whistled for a foul for taking room inside of Quantum Racing at the leeward mark, took 10th.

    And while Provezza hold the early lead in the Rolex TP52 World Championship, today they also increased their lead on the 2023 circuit standings to 25 points.

    Rolex TP52 World Championship, standings after six races
    1- PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 5+3+1+1+5 +4= 19

    2- PLATOON (GER), Harm M?ller-Spreer, 1+5+9+2+2+3= 22

    3- GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 2+7+2+10+4+1+1=26

    4- ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 3+6+3+7+3+5 = 27

    5- PHOENIX (RSA) Hasso Plattner 7+2+6+5+1+8=29

    6- SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 6+1+8+3+6+10= 34

    7- QUANTUM RACING POWERED BY AMERICAN MAGIC (USA), Doug DeVos, 8+4+7+6+10+2=37

    8- VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 4+9+4+9+9+7=42

    9- INTERLODGE (USA) Augustin – Gwen Fragomen – 9+8+10+4+7+9=47

    10-ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn and Tina Kang, 10+10+5+8+8+6=47

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  • #2

    Platoon clinch 2023 TP52 World Championship title on the last leg of final race

    Harm Muller Spreer’s German flagged Platoon team clinched the 2023 Rolex TP52 World Championship title with a thrilling comeback in the final minutes of the final race off Barcelona. From fourth at the last windward mark of the championship, they passed two boats in the closing moments of the downwind, one of them being outgoing 2022 champions Quantum Racing powered by American Magic, to finish second behind Provezza the team which had led the regatta since the end of the first day of competition.

    all images copyright James Tomlinson:

    While there was a measure of heartbreak for Ergin Imre’s Turkish flagged team which was on the verge of their first world championship title and their third regatta title of the season, there was a huge outburst of emotions for the hugely experienced Platoon team as they won the world title for the third time after triumphing in 2017 in Scarlino and 2019 in Puerto Portals.

    The last pair of races today, contested for the first time in an E’ly breeze of 7-10kts and nasty Barcelona choppy sea - proved to be a fitting, high octane climax to what has proven an especially high pressure, intense championship compacted to only three days of racing because of insufficient wind at the start of the event.

    Starting the day with a three points lead over their German rivals, Provezza handed the advantage back to Platoon when they opened their final charge with a sixth place – their worst race of the regatta. At the same time, when they really needed it Platoon unfurled an impressive victory ahead of Gladiator which had ETNZ’s Ray Davies guesting as tactician.

    Circuit leaders since winning the first event of the season in Saint-Tropez, Provezza then showed their mettle, delivering a clinically efficient, fast gun to gun win. All the way round the windward-leeward course they seemed to have the 2023 world title in the bag.

    But on the last downwind Platoon stayed right whilst both Quantum – which has Terry Hutchinson calling tactics this week and Interlodge erred left. The windshift and pressure favoured M?ller Spreer’s team and they surged through to cross second, not far behind their red hulled rivals, wresting the title from under their noses.

    It is also Platoon’s second regatta win of 2023, coming on the heels of lifting the Royal Cup in Mahon, Menorca last month. It is the second Rolex TP52 World Championship title for Platoon’s tactician Vasco Vascotto who again attributed some of the late gains to divine intervention from his recently passed dad.

    “I think maybe my dad was up there encouraging Terry to go left and me to stay right!”

    grinned an emotional Vascotto who paid tribute to the while Platoon crew not least Spanish Olympic and America’s Cup hero Jordi Calafat.

    “Before the day started Jordi and I had agreed that we needed most of all to stay calm and patient and the opportunity would come, as it did.”

    Platoon’s owner-driver Muller-Spreer was elated,

    “For sure this world title was the hardest. We were up and down the whole week first of all waiting two days for wind. We struggled on the first day and in the third race we got two red flags and ended up with a ninth. We had a strong comeback and the performance of the team and the boat was really really good.”

    He added,

    “It feels great, it's not something you can do easily. To achieve world titles in this class - it's a big honour. But we have to point out that Provezza is doing such a good job. They are so consistent it's really hard to beat them.”

    After getting two red flag penalties in Race 3, the last of a long, hot, sweaty three race day, Platoon delivered a 2,2,3,1,2 finish but still head to Puerto Portals for the season finale still with the same 18 points deficit they have behind leaders Provezza.

    Provezza’s helm John Cutler grimaced,

    “It was tough to win the race and still not win the regatta but it's the accumulated points that count and we just had a couple too many I guess. Now we have just got to focus now on the overall for the season and keep chipping away. If we keep sailing the way we have been doing hopefully that will be enough for Portals. But normally you should feel pretty pleased with a second at the worlds but we actually all feel a little bit like…. "aaaaaargh" because like everybody we left a few points on the table round the race track in the eight races we did so you always regret that. But once I've had a beer I'll cheer up and it'll be good.”

    Race 7

    The breeze moved around to the east and despite some rather ominous filled in nicely for an ontime start just after noon, local time. The velocity was consistent with the previous days, but the change of wind direction created a confused sea with the current running counter to the wind.
    Gladiator took the committee boat end and bounced right immediately while Quantum Racing owned the leeward end and was content to play on the left side. In the middle were the two main protagonists for the world title, Provezza and Platoon. The Turkish team was able to hold a land on starboard while Platoon tacked to the right side and then tacked back. In the end there wasn’t necessarily a favored size with Phoenix coming in from the left to lead at the first mark, followed closely by Gladiator and Platoon. For Provezza, what had seemed promising early in the leg resulted in a seventh around the first mark.
    Platoon methodically chipped away, picking off Gladiator around the leeward mark when the latter had a poor spinnaker douse and then Phoenix on the second upwind leg. On the final run, Phoenix would tumble to fifth, one spot in front ot Provezza, which was never able to find a passing lane. Gladiator took second, a resurgent Quantum Racing was third and Vayu fourth. Interlodge, Sled, Alpha + and Alegre, which incurred a penalty at the leeward mark rounding, rounded out the standings.

    Race 8

    Entering the final race, Platoon had a two-point lead in hand and the tiebreak, provided Provezza didn’t win the race. But then Provezza jumped off the line and played the first beat to perfection, rounding with a lead they wouldn’t not relinquish. Interlodge committed hard to the left side and rounded second, with Quantum Racing and Phoenix in third and fourth. Then came Platoon with three boats standing between them and the world title.

    At the leeward mark, Provezza took the right hand gate and ownership of the left side. Platoon, left with the difficult choice to follow or to split, seemed slightly indecisive before taking a left hand turn, though they did appear to pick one of the three boats they needed.

    The first part of the last beat of the world championship was fairly routine, but as the boat’s closed on the windward mark, Provezza did everything it could to inflict some pain on their rivals on Platoon, tacking on Interlodge and Quantum Racing and hoping one of them would pay forward, so to speak, the pain on Platoon.

    The lead at the windward mark was comfortable for Provezza, which had displayed good downwind speed all regatta. But it was somewhat out of their hands as Ergin Imre’s team needed either Quantum Racing, which slipped into second at the final mark, or Interlodge to stay in front of Platoon.

    Quantum Racing was quick to jibe away to the left-hand size, looking downwind, which opened the door. Platoon then used its downwind speed to position itself to leeward of Interlodge and then make the pass when boat boats jibed toward the finish. Now it was up to the wind gods and they decided in favor of the German team as Platoon surged past Quantum Racing into second and clinched the world championship. Quantum Racing took third, Interlodge fourth. Phoenix and Gladiator went fifth and sixth respectively, then Algre, Vayu, Sled and Alpha +.

    Rolex TP52 World Championship Final Standings
    1-PLATOON (GER), Harm Muller-Spreer, 1+5+9+2+2+3+1+2= 25
    2 PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 5+3+1+1+5 +4+6+1= 26
    3- GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 2+7+2+10+4+1+1+2+6=34
    4- PHOENIX (RSA) Hasso Plattner 7+2+6+5+1+8+5+=39
    5- QUANTUM RACING POWERED BY AMERICAN MAGIC (USA), Doug DeVos, 8+4+7+6+10+2+3+3=43
    6- ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 3+6+3+7+3+5+10+7 =44
    7- SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 6+1+8+3+6+10+8+9+= 51
    8- VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 4+9+4+9+9+7+4+8+=54
    9- INTERLODGE (USA) Augustin - Gwen Fragomen - 9+8+10+4+7+9+7+4+=58
    10-ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn and Tina Kang, 10+10+5+8+8+6+9+10=66
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