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Scarlino will see changes among top contenders as 52 Super Series' Royal Cup comes to Tuscany

by 52 Super Series 23 Sep 18:44 BST 26 September - 1 October 2022
Royal Cup 52 Super Series Scarlino © 52 Super Series

The fourth regatta of the five event 2022 52 Super Series season opens Monday in beautiful Tuscany, Italy with the official practice race for the Royal Cup 52 Super Series Scarlino.

Points scoring starts Tuesday on racing waters that the world's leading grand prix monohull circuit has visited twice, for the first time in 2016 when Quantum Racing won and then in 2017 when Platoon lifted the Rolex TP52 World Championship title.

But before racing starts the competing teams will be doubly focused on making the very best use of practice time. Several crews have changes - some by choice, others by necessity - which will need as much time and carefully optimised effort to ensure performance is the best it can be come Tuesday and beyond. And even for others with no changes, after exactly two months away from 52 Super Series racing a few drills and practice starts will surely not go amiss.

After winning in Puerto Portals, Mallorca in late July the Plattner family's Phoenix hold a narrow circuit lead of just two points, over Doug DeVos' Quantum Racing which won the first two regattas of the season. The Phoenix team are proud to welcome back owner-driver Hasso Plattner on board to steer Phoenix at his first 52 Super Series event since Cape Town in 2020.

"We are looking forwards to it, the team are excited and Hasso is super excited to be coming back. He was unfortunate to miss out in Portals as he had a last minute health hiccup. He has been doing some sailing and we will make the most of the practice days, but Hasso has sailed a lot of different boats to the highest level over the years he will slip back into it." - Enthuses Tony Norris, project manager for the Phoenix team.

Tactician Tom Slingsby notes, "Personally I have never sailed in Scarlino but am looking forward to. But I will be arriving late from the Cadiz SailGP event so will have to learn fast. I think we are confident that we can perform well as a team in all conditions but there are many teams who are also confident."

As well as Hasso returning, Tina Plattner - who has missed this season due to back problems - is expected to do some light training on Phoenix with a view to her steering in Barcelona for the final regatta.

Quantum Racing see talismanic owner-driver Doug DeVos return to the hot seat on Quantum Racing. After DeVos missed July's Mallorca - where Quantum Racing finished fourth, 19 points behind Phoenix - the American flagged team's afterguard are back in their usual positions but the crew will be missing long time mainsheet trimmer, four times America's Cup winning Kiwi Warwick Fleury. Fleury is recovering from a health problem and will be substituted in Scarlino by Chris Hosking.

"Of course we will be going out to win for Warwick and would love to see him back, but it will be a bit of a challenge for us. Things won't be as automatic as it has been over the years. We have time to work on it before the event. But I think the afterguard works really, really well together. And we like the set up of the boat. We are fundamentally fast enough to play the game." - World Champions Quantum Racing's Team Director Ed Reynolds highlights.

Harm Müller Spreer's German flagged Platoon, second in Baiona, second in Cascais at the Rolex TP52 World Championships but sixth in Puerto Portals and presently lying third overall on the season standings, some 23 points behind Phoenix, have made an afterguard alteration. They have recruited Italian ace Vasco Vascotto as tactician to work with strategist Jordi Calafat and navigator Jules Salter.

Vascotto is delighted to be returning to the 52 Super Series.

"It will be great to sail with Jordi Calafat who as a kid I raced at regattas where he was a legend I looked up to. I am very happy to be coming back and to sail with guys like Victor Mariño who I spent many years with on the Farr 40 Nerone including winning a world championship, he is a great sailor and a friend. And I'm happy to be back in the magical world of the 52 Super Series."

Owner-driver Müller Spreer explains the change, "Sometimes you need to make changes and unfortunately the first three events of the season didn't go as expected and we are not where we want to be on the season standings. Vasco is a tactician with a track record of winning in the TP52 class as well as many others and I think he will add some fresh air."

And Andy Soriano's Alegre bid farewell to hugely experienced British tactician Ado Stead - who has stepped down to spend more time with his family - and welcome Australian 470 double Olympic medallist Will Ryan who will sail as strategist as fellow past 470 World Champion Nic Asher moves to become tactician. Scarlino 2016 was Asher's first 52 Super Series regatta as strategist, Alegre finishing second. The two former 470 champions are looking forwards to working together.

"We have known each other more than ten years and get on well as friends, sailing other classes together. We have similar ideas and so Will was the first call. And it is good to have some younger blood coming into the class." Says Nic Asher.

He adds, "I feel like I have a good track record in Scarlino where it looks changeable this week, we should get a little bit of everything."

The Royal Cup

The Royal Cup is one of the TP52 class's most prestigious trophies, usually raced for annually. The holders are Platoon, winners of the huge trophy in Menorca last year. The Royal Cup, or in full, the Royal Cup Challenge Trophy, was originally donated in 1995 as a challenge trophy for IMS50 racing by King Harald of Norway, Pasquale Landolfi, Willi Illbruck and Yannis Costopoulos as a top award in what was then the world's premier level rating class. The TP52 has been the natural successor to that class, the Royal Cup being first presented in the first year of the 52 Super Series, 2012. Only Quantum Racing has won the Royal Cup twice, in 2013 and 2014. Other winners include Rán Racing, Azzurra, Luna Rossa and Provezza. From the IMS 50 days famous boat and owner names inscribed on the massive trophy are: 1995,1996 and 2001 Brava Q8, P. Landolfi, in 1996 Mean Machine, P. de Ridder and in 2000, Innovision 7, H. J. Eekhof.

Racing starts Monday with the official practice race and runs Tuesday to Saturday.

52 Super Series 2022 Overall Ranking after three regattas: (Baiona, Cascais, Puerto Portals)

1 PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 27+42+25 = 94 pts
2 QUANTUM RACING (USA), Doug DeVos, 19+33+44 = 96 pts
3 PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 26+40+51 = 117 pts
4 SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 43,5+44+36 = 123,5 pts
5 ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 43+41+52 = 136 pts
6 PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 61+54+42 = 157 pts
7 INTERLODGE (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 39+71+50 = 160 pts
8 VAYU (THAI), Whitcraft Family, 45+54+79 = 178 pts
9 GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 60+73+71 = 204 pts

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