When the 2023 52 SUPER SERIES season opens on May 2nd with the first races of the 52 Super Series Saint-Tropez Sailing Week, the first of five regattas this year, it will be a very different crew lineup aboard the defending champions.
‘Quantum Racing, powered by American Magic’ take up the challenge of retaining both the 2022 circuit title and the Rolex TP52 World Championship, which was won by Doug DeVos’ USA-flagged team last year, doing so with an impressive record of victories in four of the five events.
The new Quantum Racing, powered by the American Magic brand, reflects a changed focus, now incorporating the best new, young American talent into the established, successful lineup of top global talent. Their objective is to enhance the skills and experience of up-and-coming talent by racing the TP52 on the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit.
So while big names like tactician Terry Hutchinson and strategist Lucas Calabrese are now entirely focused on winning the 37th America’s Cup with American Magic, a group of young sailors are already integrated into the team and were training in early April in Valencia along with new tactician John Kostecki.
Among the new faces are Harry Melges IV, who will steer Quantum Racing, powered by American Magic; Victor Diaz de Leon, as navigator-strategist, who will work closely with new tactician, America’s Cup and Ocean Race winner Kostecki, who guided Platoon to two TP52 World Championships; Sara Stone sails on the mid-bow, and the new grinder is Scott Ewing.
Management of expectations is key for Saint Tropez and the first events. Often the class warms up in early May at Palma Vela, but this 2023 season starts earlier than usual, and so straight away it will be something of a baptism of fire on the Gulf of Saint Tropez for the young sailors, many of whom are from skiff, sports boat, and foiling classes.
Ed Reynolds, Team Director, is confident the new crew will integrate quickly and smoothly, but the fine detail of communications and boat placement and timing may take a couple of events,
“The pleasing thing is they are all so into it and enthusiastic,” says Reynolds. “The difficulty with a bigger group coming in is getting used to the equipment. I don’t think any one of them except for Sara had previous experience with a TP52 before, and so it is about learning the boat; when you can slow them down and when you can speed them up. All those little things that you can do, fitting in a Melges 24 into places where you can’t ever fit a TP52. That and probably the biggest thing is, and it happens all the time, is Victor Diaz de Leon – who is navigator-strategist – and John Kostecki getting the communication each of them wants. That will be a work in progress.”
But Reynolds believes their boat speed will prove an important asset:
“I do think we will be competitive and strong. Last year we had probably the best year any TP52 has ever had, so I don’t want to put pressure on anyone and say I think we will be doing that again. I am not making excuses, but I think the first couple of events we are going to kind of be feeling our way, but once we come through the first couple of events, we should be good. And everyone on the team is so committed to it.”
Starting and the first upwind are often where races are shaped, and this will be one of the main areas for work. “The biggest thing I would say, if I have one concern, and it is a concern because I just don’t know, is how quickly we get the communication and the experience on the starting line,” says Reynolds. “That is where you see new drivers and new teams struggle the most on the 52 SUPER SERIES.”
And, he believes they have a solid, dependable, and hugely experienced tactician in the American Kostecki who will be out to prove his capacity to win after being replaced on the Platoon team late last season.
“Watching him over the years, I think in terms of course management, I have never seen anyone better than John Kostecki,” says Reynolds. “I watched Platoon, and they did not have terribly good starts, and I would watch John turn eighths or ninths into thirds or fourths. And that is really important in the 52 SUPER SERIES. He has been on the circuit forever. He and Victor are not very alike at all, and so their communication and their tempo and other things will need work, but looking at risk management and getting a boat out of a bad situation, I have watched John for 15 years at least, and he is as good as there has ever been.”
The 52 SUPER SERIES fleet is mustering in Saint Tropez, preparing for the official practice race Monday, May 1st, with points racing Tuesday to Sunday. Eleven teams are expected to compete.
This content was originally published on the 52 Super Series website.