Britain's new (and only) GP42 campaign

We speak to John Bassadone about Peninsula Petroleum

Friday June 18th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Britain has a new face on the Audi MedCup circuit this year. John Bassadone is in fact from Gibraltar where he is Managing Director of worldwide fuel trader/supplier Peninsula Petroleum and this year is campaigning a GP42 bearing his company’s name.

Gibraltar born and bred, Bassadone, 33, grew up sailing Optimists, Lasers and with his father in the Gibraltar fleet of Victory keelboats. He was in the UK from the age of nine, during which time he pretty much gave up sailing.

His business in the oil trade, makes him the second owner in that professional competing in the Audi MedCup after Artemis’ Torbjorn Tornqvist. “We don’t have the whole of Russia to deal with unfortunately,” he says in reference to Tornqvist’s company Guvnor. “There are three sides to our company: We sell oil to tankers and shipping and we have our own oil in certain locations and we have offices worldwide, in China and Singapore, etc.”

Bassadone says he only got back into sailing four years ago when he purchased a J/109 from persuasive Paul Heys of Key Yachting. He has since traded up to a Comet 41, which he raced for two years in the south of Spain and Palma, and now to the GP42.

“It came about last year,” Bassadone says of his latest water-born acquisition. “We were invited to the GP42 Worlds in Lanzarote and we sailed on the Roma 1. We loved it and thought it was brilliant. Then an opportunity came about, speaking to Jose-Maria van den Ploeg from Madrid who was selling his boat and I ended up buying it. And with Inaki [Castaner], who has been involved with the whole project, I bought the boat, had it touched up and here we are.”

Masterminding his sailing program, Inaki Castaner is a former America’s Cup and Whitbread sailor (known as ‘Yoda’ within the team), who previously the Ono campaign for 11 years, seeing it through the transition from IMS into the TP52. Their TP52 was the famous one with the mirrored ‘Ono’ logo on the hull and the much photographed spinnaker featuring a giant eye. For this year’s new GP42 campaign there has been a melding of crews between Bassadone’s Comet crew and former members of Castaner’s Ono team. With the exception of Bassadone, who coming from Gibraltar and living in nearby Sotogrande speaks Spanish as an equal first language, all the crew are Spanish save for one, Argentinian trimmer German Panei.

When we first encountered Bassadone in Cascais prior to the first race of the first event of the 2010 Audi MedCup, he admitted to being slightly apprehensive about competing in his first event against such an illustrious line-up. For while the GP42 may be considered the B-division in the Audi MedCup there is still no shortage of talent in it from the likes of Castaner, to Gabriele Benussi, tactician on AirisEssential to the Iberdrola team where half the crew were with Desafio Espanol or with Telefonica on the Volvo Ocean Race to the Paolo Cian driven Madrid-Caser Seguros, owned by the 1992 Finn Olympic Gold medallist Jose Maria van der Ploeg.

So why buy a GP42 rather than anything else, we queried Bassadone? “For me, my personal program within sailing was to be involved in the stages and without any rush, to progress through the ranks. I have never wanted to just go straight in and buy a TP52 and crew it up to the hilt. I’d rather go through the paces and enjoy the different stages. The reason the GP42 came about was we were going to go down to Lanzarote any way on the Comet and they invited us to participate in the GP42 World Championship.”

As to how the Cascais event ended up for Peninsula Petroleum, Bassadone admits: “In the end, I unfortunately had to leave at the end of Friday, so I missed the Saturday and Sunday but more unfortunately we broke the top part of the mast, so we had to retire on the Sunday. But Cascais, I’d say was satisfactory. In terms of the result it wasn’t amazing, but I think it was as good as we could have done given the fact that it was my first time, etc. It was fantastic, very exciting and everything I thought it would be.”

There is also a cost aspect to it. Compared to the sizeable squads being employed by TP52 teams, the Peninsula Petroleum team only has one shore crew, who is also the stand-by if a member of the sailing team has to stand down. Bassadone says they are carrying out their campaign in a “modest way” - other than buying the boat he hasn’t had to shell out enormous money (other than sorting out the repair to the top of the mast post-Cascais), as prior to their purchasing it, the boat had been immaculately maintained by van der Ploeg.

The plan for Peninsula Petroleum is to compete in the whole Audi MedCup circuit this year culminating in the World Championship at the end of the season in Sardinia. Bassadone says he may also compete in the Copa del Rey and other regattas in the Gibraltar/Soto Grande area as time allows this year.

In this video Inaki Castaner describes the pros and cons of sailing GP42s versus TP52s:

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Latest Comments

  • ptweetybus 19/06/2010 - 08:00

    They'll be fixing the top of the mast again in Marseilles, bugger!

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