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Skipper Victor Diaz De Leon leads young Americans looking to become 2024's 52 Super Series champions

by 52 Super Series 12 Apr 20:33 BST
Skipper Victor Diaz De Leon leads young Americans looking to become 2024's 52 Super Series champions © 52 Super Series

True to an initiative launched last year by team owner and 52 SUPER SERIES champion Doug De Vos that aims to provide younger sailors with experience and learning at the highest level of grand prix racing, Quantum Racing powered by American Magic will have four new younger athletes on the crew for the 2024 season, led by newly appointed skipper Victor Diaz De Leon.

The selected new athletes have already been put through their paces during a tuning and training week on the Bay of Palma last month when the Quantum Racing powered by American Magic team worked alongside Tony Langley's new Gladiator - also Quantum powered - which was previously Alegre.

After sailing as both strategist and as tactician last year when the team finished in third overall for the season despite afterguard line-up changes at every single regatta, Victor Diaz de Leon is delighted to have been appointed as skipper as well as tactician.

Dream come true

"It is so exciting. For me this really is a dream come true. At the same time it's a huge challenge that I'm really excited to take on, it feels amazing to have this opportunity." Enthused Diaz De Leon whose top level activity spans International Moth racing to SailGP.

The new skipper, whose first time leading such a big grand prix program this will be, is clear what he believes will be fundamental to their approach, "I think with such a big team it's key to have great communication and to trust the people around you. I think we're very lucky that we have so many experienced, high level sailors on board. In my mind, the key to success for us is going to be how do we integrate the new, less experienced, younger sailors? And how do we work together with the experienced group and the younger group? How do we bring the younger group up to speed and how do the experienced guys mentor these new people? I think the new people need to pay that forward with hard work and enthusiasm to strive to be the very best"

Diaz De Leon says he also plans to do all he can to let the older, more experienced America's Cup winners and past 52 SUPER SERIES champions, take the lead "The people that we have on Quantum Racing powered by American Magic are so excellent and basically I think I'm just gonna let them do their thing. The guys that have been sailing on Quantum they're used to winning the 52 SUPER SERIES and the TP52 World Championships super series or used to winning World Championships and so the younger guys and girls are learning from the best, they have this core group as mentors and for me, it's how quickly can we get the new group to work at a high level of the Quantum racing gold standard."

Last month's first training period allowed the crew to get to know each other and what is expected of the younger members, how the program works day-to-day as well as tuning up the Quantum Racing boat which has undergone various, unspecified technical updates as well as locking in the sail design updates sufficiently in advance to have new sails ready for the first regatta 52 SUPER SERIES Palma Vela Sailing Week which starts on the Bay of Palma on Sunday April 28.

"The week was really positive."

Victor Diaz de Leon recalls, "It also gave us a chance to introduce the new team members and I think, you know, looking back at my own season last year I was very overwhelmed, especially at the beginning, I'd never sailed such a big boat before and it was such a large team. I think getting these days in in advance is really good for the new people because I'm sure they're gonna go through the same thing that I went through. Now they have time to go home and reflect - to reflect on what they saw, what they learned, what works, what doesn't, what is expected of them, what's their daily routine going to be like. And that is from when they get to the container in the morning to on the boat to back to the hotel. All of that was really positive. But, yes, I was kinda shocked and a little bit out of my comfort zone and overwhelmed last year. Now I am making sure that I'm there for the new guys, to kind of be there for them at the beginning and make sure that they're feeling comfortable and involved and included and they understand what our goals are."

At 33 years old the new Quantum Racing leader is their youngest ever skipper. He states what the team has set as three primary shared goals, "We aim to operate at a high level through preparation, accuracy, and effective communication. That's number one. Then, two is to maximize our gains right through the season by focusing on worst first, that is turning deficiencies into strength. Especially with a new group, and young group, we're going to have a lot of deficiencies early on, and we're gonna have a lot of challenges and things are not going to be perfect. If we can work on what we are worst at first, then we should be able to have a big gain rate. And number three is to focus on the process. Because if we operate at a high level and maximize the gains through the year, we will likely be in contention to win the series at the end of the season. So in my mind, those are the keys for us this year. everyone on the team is on board with this and we came up with these goals collectively."

High fliers

Among the new talent joining Quantum Racing powered by American Magic will be the circuit's first female navigator, Evelyn Hull. Although she is an expert in electronics systems and control engineering and worked previously with NASA developing simulations and simulation software for commercial airspace research, she is still relatively new to grand prix raceboat navigation.

The other new team members getting ready for the season to start are Nevin Snow who will be strategist, Ian Liberty trimmer and Alex Sinclair mid bow.

Quantum Racing powered by American Magic's coach James Lyne explains the goals of their successful training week,

"Number 1 objective was process. We have a group of young talented American sailors with limited or no experience in the TP52 so our training week was focused on our afterguard learning their roles both on and off the water. #2 was communication afterguard learning what and when to give the right pertinent comms #3 leadership, Victor working on leading the team on the water, that means vocal tone comms etc #4 Quantum Sails have been doing a lot of design and build process work through the winter so we needed to ground truth that development on the water and bring that forward in to our race sails this season."

Credit where it's due

Team director Ed Reynolds has high hopes that the Quantum Racing powered by American Magic team can be on the podium again, perhaps even win, "I don't see why not, considering last season threw so many extra challenges our way and we still did well is a testament to the team. But I this will be a bigger challenge as the ratio of new, young sailors to the long serving established team is that bit higher."

says Reynolds, "But I have to give massive credit to these guys who give us complete commitment and buy in to this initiative with the younger sailors. Let's face it one or all of them could join in any other program and be pretty much guaranteed winning, so credit to them. In other mainstream career is they say learn your craft, do your craft and then, later, teach. And that that, to a great extent is what these older guys are going. Credit to them."

Doug De Vos's Quantum Racing powered by American Magic will be pitching to extend their record to six 52 SUPER SERIES series titles this season.

The five regatta 2024 52 SUPER SERIES season starts on Sunday 28th April and will feature 10 TP52s from seven different nations racing, including a brand new Platoon for 2024 circuit champions Platoon (Harm Müller Spreer, Germany) and a new Alegre for Andy Soriano.

Quantum Racing powered by American Magic provisional crew list:

  • Harry Melges IV (USA (helm)
  • Victor Diaz de Leon (USA) skipper/tactician
  • Nevin Snow (USA) strategist
  • Evelyn Hull (USA) navigator
  • Warwick Fleury (NZL) mainsheet
  • Sean Clarkson (NZL) runners
  • James Dagg (NZL) trimmer
  • Ian Liberty (USA) downwind trimmer
  • Piet Van Niewenhuizen (NED) grinder
  • Alex Sinclair (USA/Antigua) grinder
  • Matt Cassidy (USA) pit
  • Sara Stone (USA) mid bow
  • Lara Poljsak (SLO) float
  • Greg Gendel (USA) bow

Key Dates

52 SUPER SERIES PalmaVela Sailing Week, Palma Mallorca, Spain:
27 April, Saturday: Official practice race(s)
28 April, Sunday: WL Races
29 April, Monday: WL Races
30 April, Tuesday: WL Races
1 May, Wednesday: WL Races
2 May, Thursday: WL Races and prize-giving ceremony

52 SUPER SERIES Newport Trophy, Newport RI, USA:
10 June Monday: Official practice race(s)
11 June, Tuesday: WL Races
12 June, Wednesday: WL Races
13 June, Thursday: WL Races
14 June, Friday: Layday / Around-the-Island Race
15 June, Saturday: WL Races (+ Annual Regatta)
16 June, Sunday: WL Races

ROLEX TP52 World Championship Newport 2024, Newport RI, USA:
15 July, Monday: Official practice race(s)
16 July, Tuesday: WL Races
17 July, Wednesday: WL Races
18 July, Thursday: WL Races
19 July, Friday: WL Races
20 July, Saturday: WL Races

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week, Spain:
27 August, Monday: Official practice race(s)
28 August, Tuesday: WL Races
29 August, Wednesday: WL Races
30 August, Thursday: WL Races
31 August, Friday: WL Races
1 September, Saturday: WL Races

Valencia 52 SUPER SERIES Royal Cup, Spain:
23 September, Monday: Official practice race(s)
24 September, Tuesday: WL Races
25 September, Wednesday: WL Races
26 September, Thursday: WL Races
27 September, Friday: WL Races
28 September, Saturday: WL Races

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