The Barclays 52 Super Series 2014 Capri, the first regatta of the season, marked the first sale of an existing TP52 to an enthusiastic, passionate owner who is looking to step up his team’s performance for the 2015 52 Super Series.
Renowned French owner Jean Luc Petithuguenin agreed the purchase of the Vrolijk-designed current world champion boat Rán Racing, confirming that his Paprec Recyclage team are ready to write the next chapter of their 52 Super Series campaign armed with one of the best prepared and most competitive modern generation TP52’s.
The sale reflects an initiative driven by existing stakeholders of the 52 Super Series to keep their boats within the circuit fleet.
Petithuguenin, whose core crew have moved up the race boat spectrum with him over a 15 year period, was delighted with the prospect of a new boat for his team:
Jean Luc Huguenin (FRA) owner Paprec Recylage: 'I am very happy to be the new owner of Rán Racing. In Capri it was good to see an older boat Vesper leading the regatta and I hope we can be competitive and keep getting better as a crew next season.'
Rán Racing’s owner Niklas Zennström (SWE), one of the three main stakeholders in the 52 Super Series who, correspondingly, is in the process of specifying the new successor to his existing TP52, said:
'It is really one of the things we wanted to achieve when we decided to build a new boat for next year, to sell the existing boats into the fleet. This is really good but it is also really good to see Paprec which has been getting better and better with an older boat ready to have a boat which they will be able to improve more and more with. What we saw in Capri at times was the oldest boat leading the fleet at times, and so while there should be a little bit of an edge with a new boat next season, the older 2011 and 2012 boats should still be as competitive.'
It is understood that five new build TP52s are already signed up with designers and builders for next season, or are in the throes of being signed up. The split between the Botin Partners and Judel Vrolijk design offices – which have been the most active and successful in the 52 Class history – remains very close to 50-50.
Class Manager Rob Weiland (NED), based on his experiences over recent years, believes that there might be as many as ten new boats for next season, including Phoenix:
'If we are seeing five new boats signed up or being signed up at the moment in June, and normally that activity takes place in August or September, I don’t think it is unrealistic to think about the possibility of ten new boats and a fleet of 12 for the 2015 52 Super Series. That in itself is exciting but it is also a considerable tribute to the owners who have supported and embraced the changes we have made in recent years to keep developing the TP52, especially the three owners who have underpinned and driven the 52 Super Series forwards. It is gratifying then to see Phoenix, the newest TP52 racing, looking so thoroughly up to date, what you would expect to see as representative of the modern grand prix monohull which clearly owners and crews want to go racing with.'
'In fact I think the differences between the new boats and the existing 2011-2012 generation boats – once updated for next season – can be relatively small. I feel it is still possible to bring older generation boats into the game, but there comes a moment that the investment required does not balance out anymore with being quite a bit less allround than the new boats. Let’s say for 2015 the cut-off point has moved from 2007 to 2009 generation boats and once we reduce displacement further from 7.000kg to 6.900 or 6.800kg it will be only the 2011-2012 generation boats who can follow that step. But then we are talking 2017 most likely.'
Designer Rolf Vrolijk (GER) was in Capri speaking to existing and potential future clients:
'As a design office we are trying to get as many new boats on the water as possible for next year and so far we have some very positive reactions from existing clients and at the same time we are also speaking with new people who want to come into the class.
From what we hear and from the other teams it sounds very positive. It looks like there will be a very good group of boats next year. Realistically we hope to have at least three to four new boats for next season.'
The Barclays 52 Super Series 2014 is a calendar of four European regattas. They complement the US 52 Super Series which comprise Quantum Key West regatta which took place January in Key West ( USA) and was followed by a regatta in Miami, fifth to 9th March.
• Rolex Capri Sailing Week , Capri , Italy , 20-24 May
• TP 52 World Championship , Porto Cervo , Italy, 10-14 June
• Copa del Rey, Palma, Spain , August 4-9
• Royal Cup Marina Ibiza , Ibiza, Spain , 17-21 September Event website