The 2022 Rolex TP52 World Championships title is wide open • Live Sail Die
The Rolex TP52 World Championships return to Cascais, Portugal next week, to a popular venue that nearly all of the nine teams due to compete hope to build on its worldwide reputation for high winds and Atlantic waves.
While three of the crews have the experience of winning the coveted title at least once, the race is now so close on the world’s premier monohull grand prix circuit that any of the teams could rightfully claim the title. 2022 Rolex TP52 World Champion.
Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing team have won the last two occasions when the TP52 last raced in Portugal’s racing mecca, in 2019 and in 2018 when they were crowned Rolex TP52 World Champions. And the American-flagged team skippered by Terry Hutchinson arrives in Portugal after winning the first regatta of the season, contested last month in Baiona, Galicia.
They could indeed seem to win the world title alternately, in 2014, 2016, 2018 (there was no world in 2020) and therefore the sequence favors them, and they have won three of the four regattas contested in Cascais in the ten years of 52 SUPER SERIES history, but as always, Quantum Racing takes nothing for granted.
But saying that for a team that’s hardwired to be risk averse, knowing that striving for top three/four results in the race is what wins the championship throughout the season is not necessarily a recipe for winning world titles.
Team principal Ed Reynolds notes:
“We would really like to win the world championships. It’s one of the biggest trophies you can win in the world of sailing, it’s the Rolex TP52 World Championship. But it’s a bit more difficult for us because it’s very out of our nature. We like to win regattas, but on the 52 SUPER SERIES, for us, it’s always about winning the season. We have to change our strategy a bit because we don’t want to get a second or a third at the world championships. We want to win. It’s the only regatta where you have to take a little more risk, you have to be a little more aggressive, but it’s really exciting. It’s one of the biggest trophies you can win in the world of sailing, it’s the Rolex TP52 World Championship.
The reigning titleholders are the sled of Takashi Okura who triumphed by the narrowest of margins when the 2021 Rolex TP52 World Championships in Palma last November went down on the final day. Talismanic owner Mr Okura was unable to attend last year’s regatta and gave the team carte blanche to push as hard and risk as much as it takes to retain the title with him at the orders.
“Mr. Okura wants to do well in the world championships, he is keen for us to push as hard as possible in the world championships and not worry too much about the season. He wants to win the world championships. For us , worlds are to be pushed Congrats on winning the Rolex TP52 World Championships probably packs a little more punch than winning the season We’ll go out there looking for the win.
enthuses Don Cowie, Sled mainsail trimmer and project manager.
The defending 2021 Sled Tour Champions had a modest opening for their 2022 season in Baiona as Cowie acknowledges,
“You have to be fast in all conditions and navigate well in all conditions. We made some pretty straightforward mistakes in Baiona. We have some small changes in the crew. So, for example, we were comfortably second in the last race and we trawled the kite at the last mark, which is so uncharacteristic of the Sled program. So we need to improve our communication. When you’re downwind you need to have clear communication and we’re comfortable sailing in the big breeze. But each team picked up the slack. I think every team has the ability to win the event and I think every team, in their mind, knows they can win the event.
In the five-year history of the Rolex TP52 World Championship, only one team has won twice, the peloton team of German owner Harm Müller Spreer led by John Kostecki. The talented Hamburg-based pilot-owner is a Rolex watch collector who jokes that the 2017 and 2019 world titles, won on the flat waters of the Mediterranean, were his most expensive Rolexes to date. But for the team which has just finished second to Quantum Racing in Galicia at the end of May, the high winds and waves of Cascais have never adapted their Vrolijk design which is the best at 10-12 knots and in marginal downwind conditions.
Olympic gold medalist and America’s Cup winner Jordi Calafat is their strategist,
“Historically Cascais has never been in our best condition but we will give our all and fight hard to be in the top three. We know how important it is to win the World Championships. If you win the World Championships world and you don’t win the tour title, it’s still a good season. Our boats are better at 10-12 knots and solid in marginal surf conditions which would be ideal. But we all know how Cascais is, and that doesn’t normally happen, but we can hope. I think we sailed the boat well in the breeze, our maneuvers are good and we’re turning the boat well, downwind we’re particularly good and Harm is very, very good at the helm. When he gets into these big conditions he’s really practical. We feel comfortable in the big breeze and don’t usually make a lot of mistakes.
While these three teams are all former or current Rolex TP52 World Champions, perhaps the team outside of this trio that most claims the world crown is South Africa’s Phoenix team captained by Tom Slingsby. Mistakes made one day in the middle of the regatta cost them their chance to win in Baiona and seven months later they are still suffering from a kite torn in two which caused them to lose their challenge for the championship title. world Rolex TP52 in Mallorca.
Back in a venue, Cascais, where he won his first world laser title in 2007, Slingsby is clear on what they need to accomplish aboard Phoenix,
“For Phoenix, we really have to be error free, pick the right side and have great speed. I’m very confident in the work of our crew and the speed in most conditions. We haven’t sailed much in windy conditions so hopefully our speed is good, we were very close to winning last year but we let it slip through our fingers so we hope to have a good shot in Cascais.
The Rolex TP52 World Championships also count as the second of the five regattas that make up the 52 SUPER SERIES 2022.