Platoon won the Rolex TP52 World Championship title on the Bay of Palma on the final day of the regatta on Thursday, but the German-flagged crew – led by Hamburg-based owner-driver Harm Müller-Spreer – did not make things easy for themselves during a tense and nervy showdown with their closest rivals – the Italian-flagged Azzurra.
Müller-Spreer’s men left the dock in Puerto Portals with a seven point lead with up to three races to be sailed on the last day of the championship, but remarkably picked two penalties points during the day’s two races for twice making contact with rival boats as and were hampered by two more penalties for other on-course infringements.
In the end though the team’s unerring consistency during Wednesday’s three race day – a fantastic showcase of speed and agility in a brisk offshore northwesterly wind when they put together two wins and a fifth – gave them a big enough cushion for the tight-knit team to hold on and emerge with its second Rolex TP52 World Championship title in three years, winning over Azzurra by two points.
Relief was the emotion most evident on the face of Muller-Spreer as he stepped ashore on the dock in the Marina de Portals.
“We shot ourselves in the feet a few too many times today but it feels great to win,” the three-time Dragon Gold Cup winner admitted. “On a day like this you absolutely have to keep your heads up that’s all, the race isn’t over until it’s over. You could see it today as well – so many windshifts, so everything could have happened in that race.
“Winning the title twice in three years says a lot about this team I think.”
“We have a great team, we’ve been sailing together now for three years, but we’ve never been in this position before – with a nice lead going into the last day,” Kostecki said. “It’s different sailing in the lead, you do probably do things differently, but we’re really happy it’s turned out well. So we’re going to learn from this and we’re going to be an even better team now.”
Kostecki said the whole team were looking forward to taking on their rivals Azzurra on their home turf in Port Cervo.
“We have a great team, really good teamwork and energy on board,” he said. “We’re gonna rely on our team and our teamwork to beat Azzurra in Porto Cervo.”
Although Platoon followed up Wednesday’s hot streak with a decidedly disappointing 8,9 scoreline on Thursday, the Azzurra crew fared only a little better.
On a day when Platoon appeared to be gifting them a third world championship title, the Italian-flagged team consistently failed to capitalise, finishing sixth in the day’s first race and then seemingly unable to shake off Platoon for an eighth in the second race.
But the Roemmers’ family team, which sails under the burgee of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, are nevertheless heading to their home club in Sardinia, Italy for next month’s circuit finale carrying a healthy seven-point lead in the overall series.
“It is a shame for us as it was a day full of opportunities and we failed to take advantage,” said Azzura helmsman Azzurra Guillermo Parada. “We started ahead of them in both races. We put a penalty on them in the first one and we never positioned ourselves to take advantage of that. They made a lot of mistakes, but once more, here we are, second by two points.
“There are some times you might be happy with that result if you feel like you did your best, but we did not do our best. And that is a strange feeling because in reality we took a lot of points back, but in reality we gave a away a big opportunity to become world champions. We need to put our heads together now and make sure that when we finish in Porto Cervo we are at least one point ahead of second!”
Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec took third in the 11-boat fleet – their first podium finish at the Rolex TP52 World Championship, after competing in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.
“It was a really hard day – we made some mistakes but we did enough in the second race to take third,” Liubomirov said. “We made some good calls downwind. But it is a great team effort. It is important for us but it is important to see how our team is working. We are pretty consistent on the race course and the results. We can still play in Porto Cervo.”
2018 world champions Quantum Racing struggled to match their form and consistency from last year, scoring podium results just twice (a win in the opening race, and a second in the penultimate race) to languish uncharacteristically in sixth place overall.
The Americans team lies in third place in the overall circuit standings, 10 points behind Azzurra, and no doubt owner/driver Doug DeVos will be looking salvage the season with a good result in Porto Cervo and a possible tilt at the series trophy.
Rolex TP52 World Championship Puerto Portals 2019
Final regatta standings
1. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (4,5,2,3,1,1,5,8,9,2 PEN) 40 p.
2. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (2,9,4,5,2,4,2,6,8) 42 p.
3. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) (5,8,3,6,6,3,1,7,4) 43 p.
4. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (9,1,1,2,9,10,8,4,1) 45 p.
5. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (10,4,5,1,8,2,6,3,7) 46 p.
6. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (1,7,8,4,4,7,9,2,5) 47 p.
7. Phoenix 12 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) (3,3,7,7,5,5,11,5,6) 52 p.
8. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Hasso Plattner) (8,2,9,9,11,8,4,10,2) 63 p.
9. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (12 DNF,12 DNC,12 DNC,12 DNC,3,7,3,1,3) 65 p.
10. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (6,10,6,8,7,9,11,9,11) 77 p.
11. Team Vision Future (FRA) (Jean Jacques Chaubard) (7,6,10,10,10,6,10,11,10) 80 p.
52 SUPER SERIES 2019
Overall season standings after four events
1. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto/Pablo Roemmers) 133 puntos.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) 139 p.
3. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) 144 p.
4. Bronenosec (RUS) (Vladimir Liubomirov) 150 p.
5. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) 159 p.
6. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) 175 p.
7. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) 202 p.
8. Phoenix 11 (RSA) (Tina Plattner) 203 p.