The Thai Vayu surprises at the premiere of the ABANCA 52 SUPER SERIES Baiona Sailing Week


· The last team to join the circuit of the prestigious 52 SUPER SERIES gave a surprise this Tuesday by placing second tied with the leader

Hasso Platner’s South African Phoenix is first in the provisional classification thanks to some risky decisions that led him to take different paths from the rest of the fleet

Despite the fact that the start of the tests had to be delayed for an hour due to lack of wind, the Rías Baixas finally offered the fleet splendid conditions for sailing

Spectacular start of the ABANCA 52 SUPER SERIES · Baiona Sailing Week. The Galician Rías Baixas lived this afternoon with great expectation the first tests of the competition that arrived in Galicia at the hands of the Monte Real Club de Yates and thanks to the sponsorship of ABANCA and Turismo de Galicia through the Xacobeo.

Start of the first test of the day in the Rías Baixas – Photo © Rosana Calvo

After the official practices on Monday, the appointment with the TP52 took a more serious turn this Tuesday with the entry into play of the first scores and the surprise of the day was given by the Thai boat Vayu, debutant on the circuit. The Thais had an exceptional performance in Galician waters and left much more experienced teams behind.

Led by Don Whitcraft and with the tactics of the British Olympic medalist Nick Rogers, the team reinforced its crew in Baiona with the incorporation of Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons, who lives in Vigo.

“The key today has been that we have had a couple of very good starts that have allowed us to be in the leading group at the first mark, and from then on it is easier to maintain that position. The tactician has read the course very well, especially in the first sterns, always going to the right, but above all it should be noted that Don, the helmsman, has handled the boat like a true professional. Today he has had nothing to envy the other skippers, he has taken the boat that gives pleasure”, explained Cuervas-Mons at the end of the regatta.

The TP52s fought hard for victory – Photo Nico Martínez

The debut of the 52 SUPER SERIES in Galician waters was a complete success. The regatta area located at the entrance to the Vigo estuary presented very good northwesterly wind conditions that made it possible to hold the first two races of the ten that make up the program in Baiona. The contest began with winds of 8-9 knots at the start of the first heat of the day and increased to 13-14 at the start of the second, always with practically flat seas, ideal conditions for the TP52 competition.

Despite Vayu’s surprise, the first test of the season was quite a show of strength for Hasso Platner’s Phoenix. Olympic champion Tom Slingsby, tactician for the South African boat, knew how to read a race course unprecedented on the circuit better than his rivals when he pointed to the right side of the course against the decision of the rest of the fleet to go to the left.

The TP52 fleet sailing past the Cíes Islands – Photo © Rosana Calvo

After an initial few minutes led by Interlodge at the head of the bulk of the field, Phoenix emerged from the opposite end of the field and took the lead midway through the first stage to start a rare breakout in the 52 SUPER SERIES arena. More than two minutes of advantage in the finish line confirmed the candidacy of the Phoenix to the group of favorites in this start of the season.

Second came the Vayu of the Whitcraft family, the great surprise in Baiona. The Thai boat was at the head of the chasing group from the first pass through the buoy and knew how to defend itself from the attacks of rivals with more experience in the circuit, signing a solid second ahead of the winner of the 52 SUPER SERIES 2021 and current world champion of TP52, the American Sled, who today recovered his owner Takashi Okura at the helm.

Despite having to postpone the start of the competition for an hour, the conditions were finally very good – Photo © Rosana Calvo

The second round of the day went to Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon, who opted for the right side of the field, an area that was once again the winning bet of the day, although not as decisive as in the previous test. The tandem formed by the American tactician John Kostecki and the Mallorcan strategist Jordi Calafat managed to make up for the discreet fifth of the first assault with a valuable victory that allowed him to rise to third place in the provisional standings.

Behind the German boat, Phoenix and Vayu staged an exciting duel for second place, which opted for the Thai boat by only three seconds at the finish line. The sum of the two partials of the day allowed Phoenix (1+3) to return to Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona (MRCYB) as the first leader of the season, tied on points with Vayu (2+2).

The action of the ABANCA 52 SUPER SERIES Baiona Sailing Week returns tomorrow, Wednesday, Wednesday, starting at one in the afternoon, with the first tests. Prior to the competition, moments of relaxation in the village of Monte Real, with breakfasts and meetings of the crews and technical teams; and in the afternoon, at the end of the tests, the village opens again for tastings of Terras Gauda, Martin Miller’s Gin, Estrella Galicia and Coren, among others.

The boats that opted for the right side of the field, such as the Platoon, benefited most – Photo © Rosana Calvo

Provisional classification ABANCA 52 SUPER SERIES Baiona Sailing Week

1- PHOENIX (RSA), Hasso and Tina Plattner, 1+3=4
2- VAYU (THA), Whitcraft Family, 2+2 = 4
3- PLATOON (GER), Harm Müller Spreer, 5+1= 6
4- SLED (USA), Takashi Okura, 3+6=9
5- QUANTUM RACING (USA), Doug DeVos, 4+5=9
6- INTERLODGE (USA), Austin and Gwen Fragomen, 6+4=10
7- GLADIATOR (GBR), Tony Langley, 7+8=15
8- ALEGRE (GBR), Andy Soriano, 9+7=16
9- PROVEZZA (TUR), Ergin Imre, 8+10=18

Statements of the day

Antonio Cuervas Mons (ESP), Vayu grinder (THA):

“It is a complex course that does not usually host regattas, but it is really spectacular: With conditions like those of today’s second regatta, it is a regatta course that is difficult to improve, with about 15 knots, flat sea, and above all in an environment as incredible as the Cíes Islands and the Vigo estuary. On days like today, there are few places in the world that can beat it.”

Víctor Mariño (ESP), Platoon trimmer (GER):

“The first one didn’t go well, they squashed us quickly, in the first two decisions we weren’t right and we had to come back. It is a difficult course, in all these races the first quarter of the race is everything, you have to make the decision where to go, the course is very open and even for the locals it is not easy. It all depends on that first room. In the first one we were a little scared because it was the beginning of the day, and sometimes the right doesn’t pay that much, but by the time we wanted to change to the right it was too late. In the second, with the wind already established, we had a very clear right and we were right, but we had to fight a lot. A little strange days, but that’s the beauty of this place.

Paul Wilcox (RSA), Phoenix (RSA) mainsail trimmer:

“I think we’re picking up where we left off last year, which is good. The boat is running well and this new keel fin seems to be doing what it is supposed to. And we have some new candles, which always helps. Today was all about linking up the roles, there was a very gusty breeze and Tom (Slingsby, tactician) did a good job. I think we have a little confidence. We know that we can do well, that we have good boat speed. We have been practicing maneuvers, penalties, spinnaker changes. We have confidence in him (Slingsby) and he has confidence in us. This is very important, people make an effort and do their job very well”.

Terry Hutchinson (USA), tactician for Quantum Racing (USA):

“It has been quite a challenge. Today we did a fourth and a fifth. It is a difficult place to navigate. At the first mark of the second regatta we were third, halfway through the course we were last and we were fifth again. The disappointing thing about the second race is that we started pretty well and failed on the first stern, but we weren’t the only ones so you feel better about that. But you want to be perfect in all your decisions. In that sense, it is a very complicated course, with many challenges and we were not aggressive enough. Our room is representative that we play it too safe. Phoenix has played well, they bet on the right and that’s where they left. We didn’t come out of the water with a good feeling, but we probably didn’t lose the race today and there is a lot to play for on that race course. It’s complicated and very subtle.”