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52 Super Series Season Starts in South Africa

After the first three days of sailing in the 2020 season, defending 52 Super Series champions Azzurra have used consistency to work their way to the top of the leaderboard in Cape Town, South Africa. With no wins, but, more importantly, no deep finishes in the light and oftentimes shifty breeze, the Roemmers family and their team on Azzurra — almost entirely unchanged since 2019 — have opened up a dominant lead over local favorite Phoenix 11 and perennial contender Quantum Racing.

Fleet racing in Cape Town
The fleet beats toward the shore on the opening day of the 52 Super Series in Cape Town. Getting to the left early proved to be a winning strategy during both races on Day 1.
© 2020 Nico / 52 Super Series

Sailing their first-ever event in Cape Town, let alone in the entire Southern Hemisphere, the 52 Super Series has broken new ground in their debut regatta of 2020. The premier monohull racing circuit is back this year with 12 teams, though only 10 teams made the long journey to this first event. Hosted by former Morning Glory owner and now local TP52 owner Hasso Plattner and his family, the Super Series will hold their first two events, including their annual world championships, in Cape Town before departing for Europe.

Plattner and his crew on Phoenix 11 got their 2020 campaign off to a dream start with a 1-3 scorecard in stunning conditions on the first day. They looked to keep the ball rolling with a solid bullet to start off the second day, but grinding pedestal and winch failures have rattled them into turning in dismal scores of 7-8-7 since then. Benefiting from a significant amount of pre-season training and testing, Phoenix 11 was on form from the first warning gun, but as the rest of the fleet has begun to get into a groove at this season-opening regatta, the competition is ratcheting up on each successive day.

Rail meat hiking
Bronenosec Gazprom during action on Day 2. Though she is a Russian-flagged boat owned and skippered by Vladimir Liubomirov, Californian Morgan Larson helms her. Larson’s longtime friend and sparring partner Jonathan McKee of Seattle is calling tactics.
© 2020 52 Super Series

In seventh place but currently just five points off the podium is the Russian-flagged Bronenosec, steered by Santa Cruz native Morgan Larson. A mainstay on the 52 Super Series circuit as well as other international circuits, Larson and his crew managed to lodge a second in the opening race and took a bullet in the second race of Day 2. Aside from that, they’ve generally been fairly deep in this ultra-close and competitive fleet where parity in boat speed has resulted in a lot of flags and protests on the water. Backing up Larson is fellow West Coast sailor and two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan McKee, who is calling tactics on Bronenosec.

After three days of glamour conditions with plenty of sunshine and mellow winds on Table Bay, Day 4 is forecast to bring cloudy and rainy conditions. Much stronger breeze should test all the teams early in this season. Follow the 52 Super Series here, and on their excellent Instagram and Facebook feeds @52superseries. The 10-race regatta wraps up on Friday.

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