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North Sails NEWS
2018 52 SUPER SERIES PREVIEW
The World’s Best Grand Prix Monohull Racing Circuit Starts Its Seventh Season On May 23rd
“It’s going to be exciting,” predicts Paul “Flipper” Westlake, VP of North Sails Group and a SUPER SERIES veteran. Twelve boats, nine of them new for the 2018 season, a handful with aspirations to win the America’s Cup in 2021, will sail the series opener in the brand new venue of Sibenik, Croatia. After ten races, it could be anyone’s regatta. And with four more events through the summer and no throw-outs, every single result will count toward the overall prize.
Flipper will be onsite, along with North Sails Grand Prix designers Mickey Ickert and Juan Meseguer, to support the nine boats using new 3Di RAW 880 inventories. “We’ve got two kinds of clients here,” Flipper explains. “The ultimate client of North Sails is the owner of the team. But I also consider every single one of the sailors on board as clients as well, as they are hands-on with our product and deserve all the support North Sails can provide to maximize performance.”
Each team can declare up to 18 sails for the season. Flipper expects most teams to declare around 10 sails for this first event, in order to cover the entire wind range.
“All the upwind sails are 3Di RAW 880, our new high-carbon content Grand Prix product that we developed specifically for the TP52 class in 2017. Downwind, they are all nylon and polyester asymmetrics.”
Some owners elect to steer their own boats, while others hire a pro driver. Either way, they are all competing for the same prize. “They do have an owner/driver award, but I can assure you that every one of the owner/drivers is equally passionate and focused on trying to win the whole circuit.”
The forecast for Sibenik is for light air and flat water, which will level the playing field so much that Flipper refuses to pick a favorite—other than predicting that “a North Sails boat will win the first event.” Since that includes two-thirds of the fleet, it seems like a safe bet. “Azzurra just won Palma Vela, with all the latest 3Di RAW 880 sails,” beating all but two of the other new boats. But Flipper cautions that the well-prepared older boats can’t be counted out either, because teams sailing new boats will need to switch from the ‘boat-building’ mode of trying to optimize a new toy to “racing the thing like it was your old pair of runners.”
Experience helps, of course.
“Obviously the established teams that have been doing this for a number of cycles will always be the benchmark. But I really think it’s a very open event, because it’s a new venue, and you’ve got nine new boats. It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be exciting.”
Here’s a list of North Sails clients, all contenders for the 2018 Super Series.