Published: Tuesday, 16 May 2017

A fleet of 10 all-carbon racing yachts lines the breakwater of Marina of Scarlino, ready for the Rolex TP52 World Championship (May 15-20), which forms part of the annual 52 Super Series, consisting of six events in the USA and Europe. The battle will be underway on May 15 13.00 CEST.

Rolex Tp52 World Championship To Kick Off At Marina Of Scarlino 1

(Photos: Nico Martinez / Martinez Studio)

The 10 teams gathered know each other well and have competed at the Key West Race Week and the Miami Royal Cup.

Ed Baird, the former America’s Cup winner and 2007 Rolex World Sailor of the Year, racing as tactician on Tony Langley’s Gladiator sees clear reasons for the closeness between the teams coming into this regatta: “It is a highly competitive class because these are all the highest-level competitors. The owners and teams put tremendous effort into being at the very top, and we all enjoy being pushed to the very best of our abilities. 

“The fleet is incredibly close. The boats are all meticulously maintained, the teams have been together for a long time and there are very few surprises. Each team knows what their boat is capable of, what are the strong and weak points. Equally, we know each other very well. We know what to expect when we are next to any of our competitors and consequently the racing is extremely close. That makes it exciting and difficult for anyone to be consistently out in front.”

The racing programme schedules five days of competition, comprising four days of short course, windward-leeward racing. One day is reserved for a 35-45nm coastal course lasting around 3.5 hours.

Principal Race Officer, Maria Torrijo from Spain, has been with the TP52 Class for almost 10 years and knows what is expected of her: “The teams are very demanding. They are very precise; for example, the start line needs to be absolutely perfect.”

Rolex Tp52 World Championship To Kick Off At Marina Of Scarlino

Torrijo believes fleet can look forward a good week of racing, not least because the geography of the region makes it a challenging sailing environment: “The forecast for the week is good. We are expecting wind – not too strong, not too light. Because it is already very warm here, we expect a significant sea-breeze every day, certainly according to the locals! For example, today we had 12-15 knots.

“This is a tricky place to race. There is no regularly favoured side to the course, so the tacticians will be very, very busy just controlling the little wind shifts. The shape of the bay with hills behind and islands out to sea help create these conditions. It is a beautiful place to race because there are so many changes in the wind. Position on the course is so important.”

Scarlino in Tuscany is about 100km southwest of Florence. Its bay is formed by distinct headlands. The island of Elba lies across the mouth, siting the event’s sailing ground within a natural stadium. The resultant wind patterns are constantly changing, offering fresh challenges each day and even from race to race.

As well as being crowned World Champion, the winner of the 2017 Rolex TP52 Worlds will receive a Rolex timepiece, the recognised symbol of achievement in yachting, awarded to the winners of many of sailing’s prestigious events, including the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.