On the circuit’s second successive visit to the chic, purpose-built Tuscan marina resort, the waters off Scarlino seem set to offer a welcome range of varied conditions for the 10-boat TP52 fleet. The forecasts are promising. The winds are often influenced by the island of Elba, which lies six to ten miles to the SWW depending on the positioning and orientation of the race track, and also by the high land at the back of the Piombino promontory more to the north.
Tacticians, strategists and navigators describe this scenic NE corner of the Tyrrhenian Sea as one of the most challenging race courses to read anywhere on the circuit, perhaps ranked for difficulty along with Menorca, where Quantum Racing won the 2016 TP52 world title.
James Lyne, uber-coach to the Quantum Sails teams, Quantum Racing, Platoon and Gladiator unpicks the key elements of the race course and what is likely to be seen.
“There are two breezes here that compete with each other, one from the south west and one from the north west; coming round into the bay on different sides. So there are different race tracks with different, quite large geographical bends to the wind. And so when you sail up the track there are persistent shifts. It is all about working that out, how far do you go into it and what is the real layline? It is interesting.”
“But in saying that, tomorrow’s opening races look set to be in a gusty, offshore north easterly, up to 15 to 20kts. Then during the week we should see two scenarios of south westerly and north westerly winds.”
Teams have had a full five days of valuable training, including today. For the world champions Quantum Racing, that has included intensive starting practice for new helm Gulari.
“Initially that has been about working to improve acceleration off the line, but then, as other boats have come out to practice, more boat-on-boat stuff, but we are in better shape.” Coach Lyne reveals.
Fresh from repairs post Miami, Tony Langley’s Gladiator has proven quick during practice, more often than not among the top three during informal tests.
“The truth is, we still have a bit to go before we can be thinking about winning an event but we are making good progress. It will take time but now as you start to climb up the fleet a little bit, which we hope we are, now we have to know when to put the elbows out and when to fight hard for the tight spots. But the boat feels good and fast.” Ed Baird, Gladiator’s tactician comments, “The shore team and the team at Persico did a great job to get us here. We have been out every day that the rest of the group have been out and there have been no issues. The boat feels great. It has moments when it is really happy. Once we are fully pressed up in 10-11kts with everyone hiking, it is happy. It is very similar to Quantum. The nice thing for Tony is that it is a more forgiving boat, easier to find the right angles and keep the speeds up.”