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Team Vayu’s Whitcraft family crew snatch Newport victory on final day

Yacht Racing Podcast

Team Vayu, the Whitcraft family crew from Thailand, kept their nerves and seized every opportunity they could, to win the XS 52 SUPER SERIES Newport Trophy today at the end of two dramatic last races contested in light winds off Newport, Rhode Island.

It is a powerful statement result for the crew which finished 10th from ten in Palma in May. With young Don Whitcraft steering, Palma Mallorca ace Manu Weiller stepping in as tactician along with Wales’ Will Best in as substitute navigator, Vayu overturned the three points deficit that they had behind Quantum Racing powered by American Magic going into today to lift the top trophy by two points ahead of Tony Langley’s Gladiator.

It is the best result for the crew which is led by brothers Kevin and Tom and this time includes four of their family, Malee, Nick, Dylan and Don. After taking third last year in Scarlino – also with Weiller calling tactics – they simply never gave up.

Kevin Whitcraft enthused, “This absolutely blows us away. We’re totally amazed. We didn’t expect to be first today. Mind you we did watch “Born to win”, John Bertrand winning the 1983 America’s Cup movie as motivation last night , just to prove it can be done. It’s just fantastic it just shows that hard work, never giving up, always works and always pays off. We were last in the rankings after the last event and we came first this time. So it’s possible.”

And the significance of the family crew winning when the USA and other nations are celebrating Fathers Day is not lost on them:

“Winning on Father’s Day is coincidental, my son was born on Father’s Day, who is helming today. I guess it’s a lucky day for us,”

“In terms of keeping nerves, we didn’t really, but we knew we already had a podium going into in the last race, which was fantastic for us. I think that calmed us down quite a bit. We just never gave up. We rounded the last mark in last and we were able to come back and squeeze just enough points to win.”

After starting so strongly – winning three races from four and having looked all week like they would deliver a regatta win on the waters of their home club, the New York Yacht Club, Quantum Racing powered by American Magic once again failed to close out the regatta victory on the last day.

They were over the start line on the first light wind race of the afternoon and had to chase up the first beat in 10th. With Vayu fifth across the finish line on a race won by Platoon Aviation and Quantum Racing powered by American Magic in ninth Vayu led into the last race showdown by a single point.

At the final leeward mark it looked for all the world as if the wheels had fallen off the Vayu title challenge. After a slow mark rounding they were well behind Quantum Racing powered by American Magic up the beat.

But Weiller and the Vayu crew sniffed out one final opportunity and gybed early at the last mark. The US flagged team carried on to the right – rather than cover their rivals, who they only needed to finish ahead of. Vayu came in hard and fast at the finish line, pipping Platoon with Quantum again languishing in 10th place.

“That was a very tough day for us,” Quantum Racing powered by American Magic’s skipper Victor Diaz de Leon acknowledged. “We are very disappointed with how today went. We made some unforced errors, being over the line on the first race and then, on the second race we could have done things differently and probably would have been better off. We’re gonna review the mistakes that we made and the weaknesses and try and come back strong.”

Of jumping the start gun he added. “We did some practice with a little bit of lighter air and we thought that that process was gonna work in a similar way as when it was a little windier. We did the final launch and it was such a good launch that put us over the line. I think it goes back to being a little safer and not pushing so hard when things are tight and control our emotions and the afterguard emotions. Being able to perform under pressure.”

With Tony Langley’s British flagged Gladiator winning the last race and the fives times circuit champions in tenth, Gladiator stole second step on the podium, relegating Quantum to third.

Helmsman Guille Parada smiled, “It was close at the end. We did everything we could to try and win the race without thinking of the podium, and when we finished and looked backwards we said this is going to be tight. At the end we only missed the regatta win by two points. That’s all good. We had a very good last day, we had a good result on the week and we are in a good position overall. So obviously we are satisfied and happy.”

The unassuming, down to earth winning tactician Manu Weiller left Newport wearing a huge smile.

“It’s been amazing,” he beamed. “It can’t get any better than this. The finish was so exciting, and right until the last meter. We are super happy. We had a great first race. We were lucky Quantum was OCS, so we managed to stay ahead of them. We started the last race one point ahead of them and it was all down to the last, I don’t know, 50 meters. At the last top mark we saw it was two minutes on starboard and nine minutes on port and they went straight. We knew we had our chance there. It was the only thing we could do and we took it.”

“For me this is super good. I hope I get to be fixed on one of the teams for the next year, that’s my goal. Maybe someone calls me. I’m happy.”

After two regattas this season Quantum Racing powered by American Magic lead the circuit standings on 63 points ahead of Gladiator on 72 with Takashi Okura’s Sled lying third on 75 points.

The fleet will remain in Newport for the next event on the calendar: the Rolex TP52 World Championship Newport 2024 with racing from July 15-20.


1. VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 2+3+1+9+1+4+5+8 = 33
2. GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 8+4+5+8+6+1+2+1 = 35
3. QUANTUM RACING POWERED BY AMERICAN MAGIC (USA), Doug DeVos, 1+1+4+1+8+2+9+10 = 36
4. SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 3+8+8+4+4+5+6+4 = 42
5. ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 5+10+3+2+9+3+7+5 = 44
6. PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 6+2+7+3+10+8+4+6 = 46
7. PLATOON AVIATION (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 4+5+9+5+3+11+1+9 = 47
8. INTERLODGE (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 9+9+6+6+2+7+3+7 = 49
9. PAPREC (FRA), Jean-Luc Pethuguenin, 10+7+2+7+7+6+10+2 = 51
10. ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn & Tina Kang, 7+6+10+10+5+9+8+3 = 58


2. GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 37+35 = 72
3. SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 33+42 = 75
4. INTERLODGE (USA), Austin & Gwen Fragomen, 32+49 = 81
5. ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 37+44 = 81
6. VAYU (THA), Whitcraft family, 51+33 = 84
7. PLATOON AVIATION (GER), Harm Müller-Spreer, 45+47 = 92
8. PAPREC (FRA), Jean-Luc Pethuguenin, 49+51 = 100
9. ALPHA+ (HKG), Shawn & Tina Kang, 51+58 = 109
10. PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 25+88 = 116
11. PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso & Tina Plattner, 77+46 = 123