Nico Martinez /

Platoon noses ahead

TP52 World Championship underway on the Bay of Palma

Tuesday July 14th 2015, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: Spain

German Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon team sit on top of the leaderboard after the first day of racing on the Bay of Palma for the TP52 World Championship Porto Portals. A gun to gun win in the opening race of the five days regatta, the first race win so far for the Platoon, was paired with a solid fifth in the second contest to leave them just one point up on the second placed Sled.

Takashi Okura’s Sled crew matched sixth to their victory in Race 2, their third win of the season, to sit two points clear of a trio of boats – Azzurra, Alegre and Rán Racing which all aggregated nine points today.

The opening day of the world championship sees the fleet at its highest level yet for the 52 Super Series. The return of Phoenix to the fleet arithmetically represents one more boat on the water, but from the outset they show themselves again to be a tough, talented top level team.

The mid-fleet battles are intensely tough. There are no easy passes, no automatic right of recovery and it is very, very easy to end up right back in the cheap seats when the closing titles roll and the finishing guns sound.

And, with 12 boats racing, a double digits score is heavy ballast to go forwards with. World Champions Quantum Racing and Porto Cervo winners Azzurra both had rollercoaster days – Azzurra marginally better with a 2,7, but Quantum Racing’s 3,11 opening salvo is not the start to their title defence they wanted. And there are other high quality teams feeling the pain of a double dip day.

A win is important to Müller-Spreer. But, as is often the case on this race arena it was easy won after they gained the prime spot, at speed on the gun on the pin buoy end of the line. Their game plan was executed precisely and from there it was plain sailing, extending to win comfortably ahead of Azzurra which was second to the left, second at the top mark, and second at the finish. Credit to Quantum Racing and Phoenix which both gained big time on the second beat, working left to take four or five boats. Eduardo de Souza Ramos’ crew lost third to Quantum down the final run, the world champions just slightly quicker running in the 6 to 8 knots of light sea breeze and boiling sunshine.

In fact Müller-Spreer and tactician Marcus Wieser were both prouder of their second race fifth.

“We sailed better then. The first race was easy once we had the pin and the left.” Wieser said conclusively. Platoon was the first of a cluster of boats to be closed out when vying for the pin end start and had to gybe away. That left them close to last, taking sterns up the first beat. But they gained on each leg to cross fifth, a result which ensures they lead the regatta.

Wieser, is of course wholly, objective: 
“We knew we can beat the other boats we are a good team. But then it is all relative, you have a good day, you have a bad day. It is all relative. Tomorrow Quantum Racing will be back.”

He is enjoying working with French ace Seb Col – a winner on Bastille Day – as strategist: “For me working with Seb Col as strategist it works very well because he is very analytic and I am much more about what I see and feel. The combination is good. But Porto Cervo was a tough week for Seb. I have known Harm for many years, I know how he thinks and I can look after him, you have to control him. He is a great helm and such a nice guy but he has his emotions and I have to manage that and expectations. But expectations are elevated now and so it is not easy. The standard is so high, there are some professionals driving the boats too and you can’t just come into the circuit and think you will be a top, top three boat. He did not sail for the last four or five years.”

Ross Macdonald, tactician on Sled said: “It was not easy at all today. Honestly we thought the wind would be a little stronger today and we thought the wind would shift a little right today. I think everyone went out with the same ideas. But it was typical Palma, anything can happen. But it is a fun venue, flat water. It was great.

"I think there were boats getting in to trouble with (protest) flags. For us it about keeping the boat moving well, good driving, good gear changes and trying to stay in the lines of pressure. We had a few close calls. The second race everyone’s plan was for the standard Palma day, to go left, where the left is favoured. We started near the committee boat with the idea we would have a nice lane when we flipped on to port, thinking we would be happy to get around the top mark in the top five, but as it turned out we were a bit better than that. We played a few shifts on the way out to the left, and then on the way to the weather mark we were just a couple of centimetres ahead of the next guys. The thing about Palma is to expect the unexpected. Although it can look like a sea breeze and looks steady, it has a lot of anomalies mixed in to it. We are just trying to keep the averages down.”

Francesco Bruni, tactician on Phoenix said: “We had a bit of an up and down day. Fourth in the first race is another confirmation that the boat is going well. We did not have great starts but we managed to sneak through the fleet in the first race. We were third and finished fourth, all good. Second race we had a pretty bad start. We were pretty much in the middle of the fleet then I made a couple of mistakes. But tomorrow will be better.

"In Palma once there is one side paying and everyone recognises it then it becomes very hard, not easy at all. It is super hard, you can see strong teams like Azzurra and Quantum Racing today being among the back markers and staying there.”



1. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (1,5) 6pts
2. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura USA) (6,1) 7pts
3. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (2,7) 9pts
4. Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (5,4) 9pts
5. Alegre, GBR (Andres Soriano USA) (7,2) 9pts
6. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (9,3) 12pts
7. Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (3,11) 14pts
8. Phoenix, BRA, (Eduardo de Souza Ramos BRA) (4,12) 16pts
9. Xio/Hurakan, ITA (Guiseppe Parodi ITA) (8,8) 16pts
10. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (11,6) 17pts
11. Paprec FRA (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (10,9) 19pts
12. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (DNF/13,10) 23pts

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