[Source: 52 Super Series] When it comes to the 52 World Championships it is the record of Quantum Racing which is the 52 fleet’s most outstanding. They start next week’s Gaastra 52 World Championships in Miami, Florida as a programme which has won three world titles from the four which have been contested since 2008. The year that they missed out was only on countback.
A slightly unfortunate final day at Quantum Key West 2013 last month suddenly saw Quantum Racing’s chances of opening this season’s account with a victory disappear, but they over the series the team which is skippered by America’s Cup champion Ed Baird proved that they are very much on winning form.
Crucially, in terms of putting in places the building blocks to win their fourth Worlds title, Quantum Racing did a lot of important ground work in Key West last month. Owner Doug DeVos – who steers this week in Miami – put in a solid shift on the helm at the 52 SUPER SERIES regatta and will arrive fully attuned to the boat and ready to race.
Since Key West Quantum Racing has planned modification, changing to a new, lower drag keel fin.
And, looking ahead to the Mediterranean season for the 52 SUPER SERIES, the team reveal that Terry Hutchinson, who skippered the team to win both the MedCup and the worlds in Quantum Racing’s inaugural season, will return as tactician to work alongside Baird onwards from May in Barcelona.
Their worlds titles are important in the history of Quantum Racing and there is a very high determination among the crew to now win on US waters with their owner steering. Among the four team stalwarts who have been with the campaign since it started in 2008, is Rhode Island based Tom Burnham, a central figure in every sense of the words, as the pitman who runs the middle of the boat and orchestrates many of the key moves.
Burnham was part of the key transition of skippers from Hutchinson to Baird and is now looking forwards to working with both this summer. But first, there is a world championships to win. And for the first time the worlds are includes as a points scoring regatta on the 52 SUPER SERIES.
Burnham explains the priority they attach to the GAASTRA 52 World Championships this season:
“ As a team it is ‘the worlds’ so it is a big regatta but we also have to look at it in the context of the overall 52 SUPER SERIES as for the first time the Worlds are part of the ‘tour’ and so every point is going to count. But at the same time it is the worlds and winning the worlds is always the goal. Coming second in the worlds is not really the point, but if for whatever reason we can’t win or don’t win, then saving points is always the target so we can win the 52 SUPER SERIES overall.”
“ The overriding goal is to go out and win the event. And if we do that then that takes care of the other part of it. That is how we approach this event. There have only been four proper TP52 World Championships as an ISAF Class, and on Quantum Racing we have won three and were tied on points in the fourth, so we definitely want to go out and win again. That is the goal.”
Part of the strategy towards winning the worlds has been to make sure that DeVos arrives having had enough helm time, and so Key West in January was important to them:
“ Key West was great to have Doug steering the boat, he does a fantastic job. He is a very good sailor and we are happy when he is with us steering the boat. That is fantastic. Having sailed with us in Key West was great to have him used to steering the boat again – he had not steered a boat in the year prior to Quantum Key West 2013 – and he has also sailed on board at other events but not as helm. We won a World Championships with him as a grinder, and so it is always good to have him as part of the team as helmsman.”
Their new keel fin is not exactly a secret weapon, but the team are confident it will be a positive benefit in what is a very tight fleet:
“ We have a new fin for the World Championships. The boat will be sailed with that for the first time in Miami. It is relatively untested but it is just the fin, not a radical departure from where we were. There are just some small refinements which we hope will make just enough of a difference to be effective. It should just give us some small gains in specific situations. In this class it is all about small gains.”
“ It is now a little bit more small fleet oriented now, so more of a fast forwards mode, a little less drag, nothing radical. Hopefully, in theory according to the information we have, it should be generally quicker around the race track. We maybe give away a very little of our height upwind, but that should just be a very little offset that we give away. We have been pretty strong in our height mode, but with the fleet getting a little smaller it is not as advantageous to have a height mode as it is to have a fast forwards mode.
“ I think we have made steps since Key West, the new keel will make a difference and we have bolstered some of the weaknesses we have talked about before. We have worked on a couple of new sails and recuts since Key West. Those are the technical things and then we work more on the techniques on the training days before the worlds in Miami. Between the sails and the boat we have the tools to win the regatta. We just need to go out and execute it as a team and win this regatta.”