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Newport 52 Super Series event wide open after practice day

Yacht Racing Podcast

Just on cue, after a somewhat wet weekend, Newport RI turned on both sun and wind for the official practice race day for XS 52 Super Series season Newport RI Trophy, the second event of the 2024 52 Super Series season. And the good news is the breezes look set to be in for the full wee, according to some of the fleet’s top navigators.

With a sea-breeze today of between and 15 and 20kts conditions were ideal for the final tune up before racing starts Tuesday. Two different boats won the practice races – Takashi Okura’s Sled from the historic host club the New York Yacht Club and Tony Langley’s Gladiator won the other race. The British owner is also a club member and has enjoyed racing here for five or more years.

And over the two races Quantum Racing powered by American Magic, skippered by young Victor Diaz de Leon with Harry Melges IV steering, also proved they are poised to go one better than at the season opener, May’s 52 Super Series season PalmaVela Sailing Week, where they were runners up to Ergin Imre’s Provezza.

With a second and a fourth today helm Melges says they are in good shape and have clear targets to improve on, “We feel at home here, it is great to be in the USA. And now, after today, we are happy going into the first day of the regatta. We came off a pretty good high after that last event in Palma, we need to keep carrying that forwards but just keep improving on every little thing. We had good starts and good boat speed there. We need to piece that together more and the key for us is closing it out on the last day, not cracking under pressure.”

The Sled team would also love to deliver on their owner-driver Takashi Okura’s club and they, too, will be contenders here as the circuit visits Newport for the first time ever.

Strategist Ado Stead reported, “We had a couple of good starts today and really we are going quite well, and feel like we are picking up where we left off at PalmaVela. We were the last boat to go sailing this season so we knew we needed to be sharp there. We sailed well. And this is Mr Okura’s home yacht club which is more fun, we love the history of this place and this is his club, so we are really looking forwards to this.”

Of the keys to the race course here, Stead explains. “You have to be open minded here, sail with what you see. There is always something going on. We know that in this SW’ly breeze there are little shifts. Everyone has sailed here so many times. I think it is a lot tighter here than in Palma where it was very unstable and there were lots of opportunities. Here there is swell, with some current that chops it is up. To win you just need to keep bashing away, keep going forwards, every metre, every top mark rounding, every bottom mark rounding, don’t give anything away and make it as hard as you can for the opposition.”

This second event of the season again sees 10 TP52s racing representing seven different nations. Hasso and Tina Plattner’s Phoenix return to the circuit after missing out on the first regatta of the season. With Hasso driving today they were in the mix and should be podium contenders.

Racing starts Tuesday and runs to Sunday. Friday is devoted to the host club’s Around The Island Race which is not part of the season long championship.

Main image © Nico Martinez