Although Quantum Racing triumphed by six points, the competition in Key West was incredibly close. Behind Quantum Racing, six boats finished within two points of Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon, who took second place only on countback.
In Miami, 2016 US Olympian and multiple World Champion helmsman, Bora Gulari, steers championship winner Quantum Racing for the first time ever in the white heat of competition. Tony Langley’s British-flagged team will be getting to grips with their new Gladiator, which debuted at Key West as Interlodge – the latest Botín Partners design. And Peter Harrison’s Sorcha team return to the 52 SUPER SERIES with a bigger commitment, and after a successful 2016, debut in Sardinia and at the World Championship in Menorca.
Gulari raced as strategist in Key West, partnering with tactician Terry Hutchinson, but this will be his debut at the helm.
“It will be a new experience for me, and I am very excited about it. I am looking forward to doing my job, to do what is being asked of me. The team is so good, I love working with them – I just look forward to playing my part.” Says Gulara who has spent the winter sailing out of Miami.
“I think anything can happen here. It is getting back towards a more normal trade winds regime. But it will be what it will be. I can’t be worried by the things you can’t control.”
Tony Langley’s investment in a new boat is great news for the class and for the circuit, underlining the popular British owner’s continued passion for the 52 SUPER SERIES and his desire to keep improving. As Interlodge, the new Gladiator showed great speed potential finishing in Key West, but was let down by a couple of mechanical problems; teething problems with the boat which was just sea-trialled in November.
The change from the Vrolijk design house to Botín aligns Gladiator more closely with the winning Quantum Racing set up, which is known so well by Ed Baird, the new Gladiator tactician who has won three 52 SUPER SERIES titles with Quantum Racing.
Tom Wilson, the project manager for Gladiator said:
“The new boat should be a better boat for Tony’s style of sailing and allows us to really capitalise on Ed Baird’s experience with the Botín and Quantum Sails set up. We hope to turn that into good results. Now we really do have nowhere to hide. Looking to the future we also like the idea of being able to come into 2018 with a boat that is proven, and we will know better when others are getting new boats up to speed.”
Gladiator has been allocated an extra two practice days leading into the 52 SUPER SERIES Miami Royal Cup, because that will be the first opportunity the team will have to get to know their new boat. The previous Gladiator boat will race some US events, but is actively for sale.
Peter Harrison’s Sorcha has been updated since last year, returned from an offshore-inshore configured boat to pure grand prix inshore mode. That has meant weight stripped out of the boat, electronic systems rewiring, and upgrades and new sails, amongst other things. There are several new crew members recruited for the four regattas that Sorcha will compete in for this season’s 52 SUPER SERIES, including GBR 470 aces Nic Asher and Joe Glanfield, as tactician and strategist, respectively.
Campbell Field, Sorcha’s project manager and navigator explains:
“After a successful first experience of the 52 SUPER SERIES last season, we are keen to step up our game for 2017, to improve in every single area that we can, and to have a lot of fun along the way. The level of the fleet is still going to be a bit ahead of us since they will have effectively sailed two regattas since we last competed, but we have done a lot of work on the boat through the winter and put a lot of energy and resources to raise our game. We are really looking forward to it.”
Since the Quantum Key West Race Week finished in January, shore teams and programme managers have been working relentlessly to realise any small technical gains – the result of post regatta de-briefs. The strength of the four-boat Quantum Sails initiative was evident in Key West. With Interlodge (now Gladiator), that shared intelligence and knowledge initiative involves Quantum Racing, Gladiator and Platoon. Certainly, for one, Müller-Spreer’s crew – under John Kostecki – showed they have all the assets required to win a regatta. Likewise, Niklas Zennström’s Rán Racing will be channelling positive memories of their TP52 World Championship win in 2013 on the same waters, but any one of six or seven teams could win the coveted 52 SUPER SERIES Miami Royal Cup.
The official practice race is on Monday, thereafter points racing runs through Tuesday to Saturday. One of the social highlights of the week will be the welcome return of the 52 Sailors Band led by Rán Racing’s Kiwi Tony Rae on Thursday night at Monty’s.
All of the race action is broadcast live from the water on 52 SUPER SERIES TV Powered by Quantum Sails, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Programmes will start 10 minutes before racing is scheduled, and can be watched at 52SUPERSERIES.com. With every start, mark rounding, tack, gybe and finish, shown live, here too there is nowhere to hide.