Life on a distant planet

Published on November 29th, 2018

Rob Weiland is class manager for the TP52 and Maxi72 associations, two planets existing in a distant orbit from most sailing organizations. Regardless, we found his observations in Seahorse magazine interesting nonetheless:

At the TP52 annual meeting, held in Valencia, the class members discussed the future, as in how, when and where to sail from 2020 onwards. The 2019 Super Series is already announced. It is good to hear each other instead of guessing about opinions, but it has risks as the more introvert are easily less ‘heard’ than the more extrovert. As well as that today’s opinion is not always tomorrow’s.

There are clear trends, however. Over the years one of them is that a majority of owners prefer racing in the 52 Super Series because it is an open competition, so no restrictions like owner-driver or on pro crew.

I am always a little puzzled that this is supported so wholeheartedly as I also see owner-drivers at times struggle as a result of it. Then again I understand and sympathize more when I am at owner-driver or restricted (pro) crew events and hear the debates and accusations of owners being helped during maneuvers, or when I see the ‘best amateur crew money can buy’ teamed up with pro sailors.

I have first-hand experience of the owner-driver concept in the Maxi72 class. If I try to imagine whether the balance of owner-driver rules and controls of that class would work in the 52 Super Series I can only comment that ‘it would not!’

It would be a complete nightmare to police at the (near zero) tolerance level that competitors expect from Super Series. But the members of the Maxi72 class are equally adamant that the owner-driver rule is why they prefer that class over other options, while the members of the TP52 class are of the opposite persuasion. I love them both.

When and where to sail is a harder nut to crack. In order of importance the TP52 owners place sailing conditions first, then location quality and in third the economics of it all. Over the years a fourth condition has surfaced: the wish to avoid as much as possible sailing in the summer months of July and August.

All in all this presents a puzzle that is impossible to resolve if limiting activity to the traditional racing period of May-September for five events in the Med. Even with April and October added, at quite some risks to number 1, ‘sailing conditions’, it makes for difficult planning once we restrict ourselves to the Mediterranean.

This tighter geography is in contrast with the Maxi72 owners, who seem to live on a smaller planet, as they transport their boats substantially more and further. Their three criteria can best be described as location, location, location.

Possibly also because the draft of their boats (5.4m) limits their choices more than in the case of the TP52 (3.5m) they generally need less discussion to nail down their favorite locations and races.

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