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TP52 Key West Regatta 2017 – Brad Marsh – Sled Sailing Team

This year promises to be an exciting year for the TP52 fleet, well actually it may be more exciting to watch than to participate! Onboard these grand prix race boats we fight a war of inches lost and inches gained in an attempt to make the crucial port starboard cross that could mean the difference between 3rd and 7th in a race.

It all starts a long time before we step aboard the boats on a race day. Every team has a full time shore crew of at least three personnel who’s job it is to prepare our teams boat in the highest standard possible. They are responsible for ensuring everything runs perfectly and every performance development has been carried out before the regatta begins. They polish the hull before every regatta, they dive the boat every single day of the regatta. They service every mechanical item before the regatta, they check every mechanical piece during the regatta. They relentlessly wash and polish the boat, they wash and polish the chaseboat that carries the sails and the coach. They wash and polish the two 40 foot containers that also follow the team around to serve as a workshop, sail storage, crew mess, spare parts hub and office. The work tirelessly to ensuring as a team we are completely self sufficient during a regatta and completely optimized.

However this year the shore crews have had a tough off-season so to speak. With Key West Race Week in Florida in early January it meant the shore crews had to work through xmas to ensure we were ready to go with no excuses.

Most sailors are familiar with the Key West Regatta. Its unique green water, steady winds and carnival atmosphere make it the US version of our own Bay of islands Race Week, the Australians Hamilton island Race week or the Italians Maxi World Championships in Sardinia. For people in the northern hemisphere the Key West Race week is a break from the terrible winter conditions and for the kiwis the race week is a chance for us to escape the office for a couple more weeks.

The Tp52 fleet has gone from strength to strength over the past 5 years. It now represents the highest level monohull sailing in the world and is the platform for all professional sailors to display the best of their talents. From the RAYC there are three members participating in this series and we are all on different boats. I sail on Sled and fellow Akarana members Tony Rae sails on RAN and Pierluigi De Felice sails on Bronenosec. They are three fantastic teams with great owners who have chosen to drive the boats themselves instead of hiring a professional helmsperson. We are all a part of the tight battle for the elusive owner drivers trophy. RAN are the current trophy holders, they claimed it from Sled last year and Bronenosec are always in the hunt.

For us on Sled we did not have a very good week on Sled. We struggled with the short and choppy sea state, we struggled with the short start lines and we generally were a little slow in getting into the groove of the regatta. With 10 boats all at the highest level it does not take much to slip a few places after a couple of bad results.

The 52 super series is an annual event with 6 events combining to create an overall placing. Every race counts and through the entire season no races will be dropped. It rewards the most consistent team over the course of the year through the different venues. The next regatta is in Miami in March, then we return to the Mediterranean where we will sail in Scarlino (Italy) Porto Cervo (Italy) Porto Portals (Spain) and Mahon (Spain). More information can be found at www.52superseries.com

Lastly congratulations to fellow Tony Rae team on RAN, they finished a very tight regatta tied for second. Bronenosec not far behind in 6th and then Sled bringing up the tail. A long season lies ahead of extremely close racing, fantastic for spectators, brutal for us sailors!

Brad Marsh
Bowman Sled Sailing team