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May 20, 2015

West Coast Talent Shines at 52 Super Series

A TP52 bowman earns his pay at Valencia Sailing Week, the first of five events in the re-energized 52 Super Series. 

© 2015 Pedro Martinez/Martinez Studio

As the global financial crisis wanes, top-tier international yacht racing seems to be booming, and nowhere is this positive trend more evident than in the 52 Super Series, a premier one-design event for TP52s, composed of five regattas in the Med between May and September.

Formerly known as the Audi Med Cup, the series was all but left for dead when series sponsor Audi pulled out in late 2011, leaving organizers struggling to field a half dozen boats during the 2012 season, rather than the 20+ seen in previous years. Fast forward three years and the re-named 52 Super Series is once again thriving. Kicking off the 2015 season this week with the Ford Vignale Valencia Sailing Week, a dozen boats — including an incredible nine brand-new builds — have begun their quest to win what is arguably the most prestigious title in the world of inshore Grand Prix racing, that of TP 52 World Champion. 

To say that the racing within the 12-boat fleet was tight would be a gross understatement. 

© 2015 Pedro Martinez/Martinez Studio

With competition in the Spanish yachting mecca now midway through the second of five days (as we write this), Latitude 38 readers will be proud to see a couple of NorCal boys calling the shots at the top of the owner-driver fleet. Tied on five points apiece is TP 52 newcomer Alegre and class stalwart Rán Racing (next best is Provezza with 14 points). Bay Area native and America’s Cup champion John Kostecki serves as tactician on the new Botin Partners-designed and British-flagged Alegre, while Santa Cruz native Morgan Larson is calling tactics for Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom on the brand new Judel/Vrolijk-designed, Swedish-flagged Rán Racing. The American-flagged Quantum Racing — the most successful syndicate in the history of the class — has gotten off to a slow start with owner Doug Devos’ 22-year-old son Dalton on the helm. Quantum won the world title in 2011, ’12 and ’13. Today, with a brand-new sistership to Alegre and most of the same core group of rockstars from the past — from Ed Baird in the back of the bus to Greg Gendell on the pointy end — it should only be a matter of time before the distinctive new zebra-colored racer gets on the pace and competes for the podium. See more here.

The Russian entry Bronenosec from the St. Petersburg YC looks for an open lane during an upwind charge. 

© 2015 Pedro Martinez/Martinez Studio

Letting the World Know They’ve Circumnavigated

Quite a few Latitude 38 readers have circumnavigated, but to the best of our knowledge, Charlie and Cathie Simon of Nuevo Vallarta and Spokane — but who got their sailing chops on San Francisco Bay —  are the first to have had their achievement announced on the big electronic billboard at New York City’s Times Square. We have no idea how that came about.

The Simons did their 14-month circumnavigation as part of the 20-boat World ARC fleet, which started and finished in St. Lucia. "It was easy," Cathie told us during an interview we conducted with the Simons at the Bar of the Forgotten in St. Barth.

The thing we found most surprising is that the Simons, who are almost as old as the Wanderer, doublehanded 12 of the 15 legs of the circumnavigation, even though their boat, the Taswell 58 Celebration, displaces nearly 80,000 pounds. "It’s all about mechanical advantage," said Charlie.

For more on the Simons’ achievement, check out Changes in Latitudes in the June issue of Latitude 38.

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