Takashi Okura’s Sled wins Rolex TP52 World Championship in Spain
Sled’s one-point win in the World Championship in Palma also earned them their first 52 Super Series title after a three-regatta season in Spain.
Takashi Okura’s Sled team were crowned as this year’s 52 Super Series champions and Rolex TP52 World Championship winners in Palma, Mallorca. Sled has competed on the series since January 2014 and became only the third crew to have won the circuit, following Azzurra (2012, 2015, 2017, 2019) and Quantum Racing (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018).
Holding a one-point lead in both the series and Worlds after the penultimate day, the team which won two of this season’s three regattas had a nervous wait ashore until the final day’s scheduled racing had to be cancelled because of gale-force Mistral winds on the Bay of Palma.
Sled won the Rolex TP52 Worlds by one point from both Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing and Harm Müller Spreer’s Platoon, securing the series by one point from the former and two from the latter.
Kiwi helmsman Murray Jones, a five-time America’s Cup winner, said: “We are just delighted. It was hard to sit around and wait when we really were keen to get out there and race. We like sailing in the breeze as a team. We were a bit disappointed not to go sailing but we’ll take it!”
Sled’s experienced team represents the New York Yacht Club, but is a multicultural mix including other America’s Cup winning New Zealanders such as veteran Don Cowie, the mainsheet trimmer and project manager, and Josh Junior, the youthful Finn Olympic ace and more recent AC winner.
Their overall victory required them to overcome successive crew line-up changes imposed by travel restrictions. All their core Japanese sailors had to miss the second regatta and substitutes found.
Usual Australian ace Adam Beashel called tactics for the first regatta win in Puerto Portals in Mallorca (August 23-28), then Italian Francesco Bruni had to step in cold when Beashel could not travel for the second and third events in Menorca (September 27-October 2) and the Worlds (November 1-6) in Mallorca.
Okura, the passionate owner-driver, could not attend this season because of the health situation, but his crew and the circuit paid him a warm tribute for making sure Sled was on all the start lines this season.
The foreshortened three-event circuit went right to the wire, proving the closest season yet with five boats arriving in Palma within four points of each other, but a substantial win in what proved to be the breezy final race of the season proved conclusive.
Bruni, Sled’s tactician, said: “This class is the pinnacle of the sport and it’s great to see the TP52 class with this strength again. I think it’s going to stay strong, and this year has been really incredible. It is impressive that the circuit has boats with such a high level. And this has been a real team effort.
“Without a doubt, this week was a bit tougher than the usual because of the stress and the nerves. Concentration was the key and trying to overcome the bad moments, which we all had. In the end it is a very close competition: one point has decided the whole season.”
As Rolex TP52 World Champions, Sled joins Rán Racing, two-time victors Azzurra, Platoon and six-time world champions Quantum Racing.
Rolex TP52 World Championship RCNP 2021
1. Sled – 30 pts (7,2,5,1,6,1,7,1)
2. Quantum Racing – 31 pts (4,5,3,4,5,7,1,2)
3. Platoon – 31pts (3,3,4,8,2,2,3,6)
4. Phoenix – 32 pts (1,1,6,7,3,3,6,5)
5. Alegre – 42 pts (5,9,1,10,1,5,8,3)
6. Bronenosec – 43 pts Gazprom (2,8,9,2,4,8,2,8)
7. Interlodge – 53 pts (9,4,7,5,8,6,5,9)
8. Provezza – 54 pts (10,7,2,9,9,4,9,4)
9. Gladiator – 59 pts (8,10,8,3,10,9,4,7) Code Zero (6,6,10,6,7,10,10,dnf) 66 pts
The first Rolex Fastnet Race to finish in Cherbourg was won by Sunrise, Tom Kneen’s boat based in the race’s former finishing point of Plymouth