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British Gladiator team claim opening race victory in 52 Super Series at Palma Vela in Mallorca

Yacht Racing Podcast

Tony Langley’s Gladiator team took the first race win of the 2024 season at 52 Super Series Palma Vela Sailing Week after profiting from a bold call on the first downwind leg allowed the British flagged team to move up from eighth at the first windward mark to lead by the leeward gate.

With four times 52 Super SeriesS champion Guillermo Parada steering, owner Langley calling tactics and Italian navigator Bruno Zirilli completing the afterguard, the recovery saw them finish clear ahead of Takashi Okura’s early leaders Sled in second and Doug DeVos’s Quantum Racing powered by American Magic in third.

“Yes there was a bit of luck,” acknowledged Parada explaining the second part of their recovery. After a start line mix-up they were last by some distance behind the fleet, but by the windward mark Gladiator had used the shifting wind and were already into the back markers.

The 8-9 knots breeze proved quite unsettled under the dark clouds, and there were many place changes through this one and only race which was sailed in the late afternoon after a long delay ashore waiting for a racing breeze to fill in.

“We did well to get back into the fleet and then went hard left on the run and it worked,” Parada said. “When these things come your way you have to take it, don’t you.”

Evaluating what he has seen so far this season the past circuit and world champion went on:

“I think that this Platoon should be the top contenders this season, they are a good crew they have a new boat which they are still learning but they will get their very, very quick and they will do the whole season.”

With Murray Jones steering this week as the owner had to return home today, Sled started nicely on the pin and did well on the early left and were able to tack in front of the fleet at half way up the beat to lead. Sled this season now have Brit Ado Stead sailing as tactician, the past world and circuit champion tactician returning to the fleet after an absence of more than a year.

“We had a good first beat and we could get across but Gladiator did well on the run and we chased hard,” said Stead. “There is a lovely chilled vibe on Sled they are lovely people. It is the first time for me sailing with Murray and with Don Cowie so that is a real pleasure. It is great to be back on the circuit, the racing is better than ever, the teams are stronger than ever, there are no weak boats, you look around and every race is a battle. You have to sail well, you have to start well, sail fast, put it all together and you can do well but for ten races that is hard.”

Quantum Racing powered by American Magic’s started solidly and sailed a good percentage race for third with their four new young team members sailing their first ever 52 Super Series race.

“It was shifty and tricky we are happy with how it went getting a solid result and we are just working on developing our relationships on the boat,” said skipper-tactician Victor Diaz De Leon. “It is going better and better and we are getting stronger and stronger we feel. It was really tight today, a lot of passes and a lot of getting passed. We are just happy we had a good one. There were tight crosses, a tight weather mark rounding, a good way to start our season.”

Image © Nico Martinez

Current circuit champions Platoon Aviation finished fourth on their first race with their new boat, charging hard on the final run to nearly catch Quantum Racing powered by American Magic.

Three race are planned Tuesday with the first warning signal at 1300hrs CET.

Main image © Nico Martinez