The 2016 52 SUPER SERIES season only finished on Saturday, 15th October with a glorious prize-giving ceremony in Cascais, Portugal, but teams are already well into the process of making changes to boats, rigs, sail inventories and personnel line up in order to be race ready for the start of the first races of the new season.
The 2017 season comprises six events that are all aggregated towards the overall season 52 SUPER SERIES title. The circuit returns to the USA with Quantum Key West Race Week (15th to 20th January) and the 52 SUPER SERIES Miami Royal Cup 6th to 11th March). Four events in Europe start with the TP52 World Championship SCARLINO 2017 in Scarlino, Tuscany (May 15th to 20th) followed by the Porto Cervo 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week in Porto Cervo, Sardinia (June 20st to 25th), Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week in Puerto Portals, Mallorca (July 23th to 28th) and the Menorca 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week in Mahón, Menorca (September 18th to 23rd).
“We are very happy with the line up of regattas for the 2017 season. They comprise of venues that proved popular and offered a good range of different conditions, and consequently tested a wide range of different strengths and skills during 2016. We are excited to be delivering a circuit that spans Europe and the USA, requiring teams to compete on both continents for the overall points, reflecting the strength and depth of the TP52 Class and the Circuit. We anticipate visiting more new venues in different countries in 2018.” – Commented Agustín Zulueta the CEO of 52 SUPER SERIES.
The short winter close season is placing pressure on the teams. Almost half the fleet that were in Cascais are being shipped directly to Florida where they will make any changes to their boats. Teams already have their training programmes and partnerships mapped out.
More than 12 boats will race in Key West, which will witness the maiden race outing for Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s new Botin Partners designed Interlodge, which is reported to be nearing launch date in Spain.
“It is going to be a long season. Teams are fully engaged from January to October effectively. And my own feeling is that nobody walked out of Cascais last week knowing exactly what they have to do.” – Reveals Ed Reynolds, the chief of the 2016 champions Quantum Racing.
“But I like the balance of the venues. Key West really is a known quantity to most. It’s a boat speed venue, then we have Miami where anything can happen, anything. Porto Cervo and Puerto Portals are very well known now but really Scarlino and Mahón are still a blank sheet of paper, we saw a good range of conditions at these locations, which were new this year. We are very happy with the mix. There are boatspeed venues, there are venues which really place a premium on the starts, and lots of ‘tactical’ venues, which is how we would describe Miami, Scarlino and Mahón.”
Quantum Racing have to factor in changes to their winning crew line up. Skipper Ed Baird will move to sail with Tony Langley’s Gladiator, which moves to a Quantum sail inventory; as will the new Interlodge.
In contrast, Azzurra are planning to stick with the same crew line up, seeking to capitalise on their consistency of personnel. Tactician Vasco Vascotto says:
“The season that has closed a few days ago has proved to be a vintage, really special and the really the TP52 class has proved to be the class most in demand in the world. There are moments of crisis for other circuits but with another new boat being built the 52 SUPER SERIES is going from strength to strength.
We worked a lot in recent months and have reduced the gap with Quantum and by winning the final regatta of the season we prove we are in good shape for next season. It was a tough, intense season and the work continues. Our plans for 2017 are already in motion. It seems like changes may affect the winning team but our strength is staying with the same group and that could make the difference.”
Race Schedule for the 2017 52 SUPER SERIES
Quantum Key West Race Week, January 15 – 20.
52 SUPER SERIES Miami Royal Cup, March 6 – 11.
TP52 World Championship SCARLINO 2017, Scarlino, May 15 – 20.
Porto Cervo 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week, June 20 – 25.
Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week, July 23 – 28.
Menorca 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week, September 18 – 23.