James Boyd Photography / www.thedailysail.com

TP52s in the Med - the show will go on

Class manager Rob Weiland brings us up to speed with the new Med circuit, plus the views of Niklas Zennstrom and Tony Rey

Wednesday January 25th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Following the demise of the Audi MedCup in December, so there has been much manoeuvring over the last month to get a circuit together in the Med this season for both the TP52s and the Soto 40s. After a meeting of the interested parties in Key West last week, so a preliminary schedule for the new ‘52 Sailing Series’ has been announced with more shorter regattas to be held over the course of 2012 with the newer IRC52s also invited and a new more compact management structure set up by the owners.

- Palma Vela, Palma, 18–22 April (tune up event - does not count towards trophy)
- Trofeo Conde de Godo, Barcelona, 23-27 May
- Sardinia Cup, Porto Cervo, 11-17 June
- Royal Cup, Palma, 10-14 July
- Copa del Rey, Palma, 16-21 July (does not count toward trophy)
- France Cup or One Ton Cup, TBD in France, 18–22 September
- Valencia Cup, Valencia, 9-13 October

The schedule has seven events (rather than the five in 2011). Some, such as PalmaVela, Copa del Rey and the Trofeo Conde de Godo in Barcelona, will see the boats will join these existing regattas. With the Copa del Rey expected to have the biggest turn out of the year, the Royal Cup, held over four days immediately prior to the Copa del Rey, is designed to be a warm-up for the main event, just as the Breitling Cup used to be, but run by the Club Nautico in Palma.

However there are two significant stand alone event in the calendar. The Sardinia Cup, has been the Mediterranean equivalent of the Admiral’s Cup in past years, but the class working with the trophy holders, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, this year plan to stage event for two boat teams comprising TP52s and Soto 40s.

“We are doing that in the easy mode,” explains TP52 Class Manager Rob Weiland, who has been chief mover and shaker in getting the new circuit together. “So you can enter individually and then we will pair them up, but if you want to have your own partner you can – so you can imagine that Quantum will have Iberdrola as their partner.”

Weiland adds that the nationality of the teams will be determined by the nationality of the TP. If there are uneven numbers of 52s and Soto 40, then the extra boats can race on their own for their individual class trophy.

While traditionally TP52 races on the Audi MedCup always included one coastal race, this is being dispensed with at regattas this season, with the exception of the Sardinia Cup. “There [off Porto Cervo] it is nice,” says Weiland of why this will happen. “All the other places we will go to they are hopeless for coastals. If there was a nice coastal course we would put one in...”

The other interesting event in the calendar is an attempt to rejuvenate the One Ton Cup. Basically the class wants to have an event in France and with the prestigious One Ton Cup, held by Stephane Kandler, who runs the Audi All4One team, this is one idea currently in the melting pot.

The final event of the year will be held in Valencia in October. This is partly because Weiland feels, rightly, that it would be a smart move to host the TP52 class out of the excellent facility that is Valencia's Port America’s Cup/Darsena. This could also be used as a base for the class, a place where hospitality or incentive sailing could take place between events and the boats could be moored at a reasonable cost.

In addition to the program in the Mediterranean, with the circuit's ‘MedCup’ tag defunct, there is now the opportunity for the TP52 class to branch out further afield. With eight boats racing in the ‘52’ class last week at Quantum Key West Race Week, so this is likely to become part of the circuit and Wieland says they would ideally like another event on the east coast of the USA next year before the boats return to Europe. “I would love to go to Virgin Gorda in March [to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's new facility] and then bring the boats back to Europe,” he says.

With a significant number of boats in Australia now, including the 2009-2010 Audi MedCup winning Emirates Team New Zealand boat, now campaigned by Marcus Blackmore as Hooligan, one can foresee an opportunity for the fleet to head down under at some point.


With seven events this year, Wieland is anticipating that there will be a minimum of six TP52s taking part at each event. However in what everyone is describing as a ‘transitional year’, so the IRC 52s have also been invited and Weiland says that the intent is to be reasonably relaxed this year in terms of the boats that can take part.

Weiland is awaiting the latest numbers from the RORC Rating Office to determine the exact rating band, but reckons that the highest, as it stands now, would be 1.388 to give some leeway for the IRC 52s fitted with for example more sail area and carbon rigging. He points out that in the 52 class at Key West there was a 25 point difference between the lowest rated - Ennio Staffini’s Anema & Core (the 2006 generation ex-Platoon) at 1.372 and the highest, Irvine Laidlaw’s brand new uber-TP Highland Fling XII, with its twin rudders and push button winchery at 1.397. So Wieland’s rating band would have Interlodge, the third hull to be taken off the Botin & Partners moulds of last year’s MedCup winner, Quantum Racing, more or less on the limit of the rating band and with Quantum Racing, in TP52 trim (as she was at Key West), five points shy of this.

So the idea in 2012 will be to run boats fitting into the TP52 rule boat for boat as normal and to have scoring under IRC running in parallel with it. Personally Weiland doesn’t feel it is absolutely necessary to run handicap scoring in parallel, giving the results at Key West as an example where the order of the elapsed time finishers was similar to those on corrected.

Weiland says that despite the rating limits, they are likely to be reasonably flexible in 2012 and for example this might allow the new Highland Fling to take part if they so wish. “I hope that Irvine will come. It is not really a TP but if he wants to do one of the events we are okay with that.”

“We also want to learn about how this functions and how much you have to do to give these guys [IRC52 owners] a winning chance. They sail much less, but their boats are equally as quick as ours.” Then there is the owner-driver question. In Key West Quantum Racing comfortably won with owner Doug DeVos on the wheel for the first time, so perhaps this isn't an issue.

In terms of boats for this season the big three will continue in Quantum Racing, Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán and the Alberto Roemmers’s Matador/YCCS Azzurra partnership, with Azzurra due to launch a new boat this season. While Container and Synergy are not participating this year, set to join the TP52 fleet is Tony Landley’s Gladiator from the UK, the Turkish Provezza VII, belonging to Ergin Imre (who was campaigning a Farr 40 at Key West with Peter Lester among the crew, but also has the ex-Cristabella TP) and a French team, led by Commodores’ Cup competitor Stephane Neve, under the colours of Paprec, sailing the 2007 generation Artemis Racing.

Weiland hopes that the crew of Container will be able to coax another German owner into buying their boat and coming to compete.

However in addition to this two of the US fleet (in addition to Quantum Racing) seem set to join in some of the events – in Peter Cunningham’s PowerPlay (ex BMW Oracle Racing/Synergy) and Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s new Interlodge.

While five or six boats are expected to do all the circuit, fleet numbers could grow to as many as 12 for key events such as Copa del Rey (which will be raced solely under IRC).


While Rob Weiland is running the show for the TP52s at present, a management company for the circuit is to be set up, funded, initially at least, by the TP52 owners. The plan is to have an individual come in to run this, with Wieland more in the background, with the aim of keeping the management small and to grow only as required. Race management will be sub-contracted to the same team that has run the racing on the Audi MedCup in previous years and for event management, for their stand-alone events, Weiland says they will again sub-contract.

“We cannot sustain it like it was,” says Weiland. “We have to have between 8 and 10 boats, rather 10 than 8. I think it will appeal to private owners. There is a company you can buy into. It has all been tried before, but it will make it much more transparent. They will be able to see what comes in and what goes out, what events cost, etc. Everything will be on the table. Whereas with the MedCup you had no idea what was happening. If you saw 120 people wandering around and everyone is making money apart from the eight owners – it is sometimes tough.”

The aim of the management company will be for it to break even at least. As a result the circuit is currently after a corporate partner and they are currently talking to one familiar German car manufacturer...

When he spoke to us last week, Rán owner Niklas Zennström was pleased with the progress. “We have had lots of meetings with owners. I think it is good that we take control of the future of the racing. We need to form a structure that is better geared for today’s environment.”

Having so successfully campaigned his Mini Maxi, so 2011 was Zennström’s first year in the TP52 class. “What was great was the quality of the racing. The race management was awesome, but you didn’t have the social scene like this [Key West]. It was very very serious. What you can see also was the whole hospitality side was too big. You could see that it was hard to make it as a viable business.

"Our idea is to try to invite other boats. There are a lot of good TP52s here and try to get some of them to come over and sail with us. That is also why our intention is in the 2013 season to start here and sail one more regatta on this side of the Atlantic.”

New to the TP52 racing in the Med will be Peter Cunningham’s PowerPlay team from the Cayman Islands. Along with Interlodge, PowerPlay’s route to the Mediterranean will be via the Caribbean where she will be participating in the International Rolex Regatta in St Thomas and the Voiles de St Barts, before the boat gets shipped to Genoa. “Then we will do five events in the Med and there is a possibility of doing Cowes Week,” says Tony Rey (the American version), PowerPlay’s project manager and crew member. “We are going to have a big season of racing PowerPlay and it is going to be great.”

PowerPlay is due to arrive in Italy at the end of May and their first event is likely to be the Sardinia Cup. The program in the Med will then include Copa del Rey, the One Ton Cup and the Voiles de St Tropez.

Since PowerPlay was acquired by her new owner, a new fin and bulb have been fitted to her to optimise her for IRC, with the boat’s internal ballast (in TP52 configuration) moved to the bulb. “We have played around with bulb weight and bulb position and we have finally found the sweet spot for the boat,” says Rey. "The biggest thing we have changed are the bigger kites for IRC and we are on our second generation of sails since we got the boat. We are hopeful there is more in the tank going forwards.”

Rey is still unsure of whether the TPs should have a long term future on the circuit racing under IRC. “The problem is that will encourage someone to build the ultimate IRC boat. Interlodge - they have kind of done that. Fling is trying to do that, but they have done it in a bit of an odd way. The fact that the TPs they are going to keep to a small area and the lower stability - that gives us a shot, suddenly we will be in the race.”

52s in the USA

Meanwhile for those owners with boats in the USA not looking to take them to the Med, a new circuit is being proposed along the East Coast of the USA.

Dee Smith, representing David Askew, owner of Flying Jenny (the former 2007 generation Bribon) was attempting to gauge interest in Key West. The circuit that seems likely to happen post Key West will be Charleston Race Week, then maybe a regatta they organise themselves in Annapolis during the third week in May, followed by the New York YC Annual Regatta in Newport and Newport Race Week with another regatta late in the season perhaps out of Annapolis en route back down to Florida.

“There are maybe three or four boats that could do Annapolis or Charleston because there are three boats going off to the Caribbean and the ones that don’t go to Europe might join everyone in Newport,” says Smith. The boats likely to take part are the new Highland Fling, Flying Jenny 7, Anema & Core, with Vesper (the first Quantum Racing) and Ashley Wolfe’s Mayhem joining the rest of the fleet in Newport after they finish in the Caribbean.

“I think we can get maybe six for Newport, which isn’t bad,” says Smith.


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