After an absence of four years, one of the circuit’s most popular and committed couples – Austin and Gwen Fragomen – plan to return to the 52 Super Series this season with their Interlodge team and their fifth TP52 since they started grand prix racing in 2007.
The New York Yacht Club members, whose programme is based out of Newport RI seized the opportunity to re-join the 52 Super Series when they purchased the well proven, successful 2018 boat Azzurra, which is in fact the defending series-winning boat, the victors of the 2019 52 Super Series .
Owner-driver Austin Fragomen, partner in a renowned New York law firm, commented:
“Team Interlodge is thrilled to be rejoining the 52 Super Series after an absence of several years. Gwen and I are particularly delighted to return to sail with friends and look forward to world-class competition”.
Agustín Zulueta, CEO of the 52 Super Series adds:
“We are delighted to be welcoming Austin and Gwen back to the 52 Super Series starting in Puerto Portals and wish them a lot of success and know they will have fun racing with us in 2021.”
The team is looking forward to the opening event of the 2021 season, the Puerto Portals 52 Super Series Sailing Week & TP52 20th Anniversary Invitational in Mallorca. They plan to arrive early, the new Interlodge 7 already being on the island ready for an extended training programme leading into the regatta.
Kris Matthews the project manager explains:
“We will do all the events this season.”
Matthews – like the owners and all the team – can’t wait to be back on Europe’s finest racing waters, competing in the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit. The appeal is absolutely as strong as ever.
“For us, we all always just loved it,” grins Matthews. “We loved the sailing, we love the venues. It is absolutely the top of the game and it all works well with our schedule here in Newport and everything else. Austin and Gwen really enjoy the travel in Europe, and we are all excited to be getting back to joining the best fleet in the world.”
“It has been a long 19 months, and we have been very cautious with what we do, so we have really done no sailing since 2019. We are looking forward to getting back onto the water and getting back into it. We got into a really nice opportunity to take on the Azzurra, a really great asset and a well proven boat. It was not really on the radar to be doing the 52 Super Series this year, but it was an opportunity too good to miss. This is our fifth TP52 and is Interlodge 7. We all know the game. This a proven boat that will take a lot of the question marks out of our decisions.”
Matthews says the Interlodge 7 team will be made up of a lot of the guys who have been racing on the Interlodge in the USA, plus a few proven 52 Super Series guys:
“Jono Swain is joining us, Andy Escourt, Rod Dawson has been with us for eight years, Dave Armitage. We have a few pieces to put in place too. We have a lot of familiar faces who have sailed with us on at least one boat.”
And he confirms that the owners’ passion for racing is stronger than ever.
“They are as keen as ever. Let’s put it this way, Austin really, really missed it on the year off. It is one of the main things he does outside of work, and he still works full time. He is really excited to be back on the circuit, looking forward to seeing friends.”
He pays a warm tribute to the championship winning Azzurra team for their help in the transition to the new boat:
“We have had a lot of help from the Azzurra guys, that was part of the appeal. We have all the data, all the intelligence, and so we will take that to our team and move it forward. We have a couple of their shore crews. We will use the North Sails, as the boat came with a lot of sails, some of them new because of the way things ended in South Africa, and there were sails on order, so the plan is to carry forward. We might have some new sails for the worlds. We are long time Quantum customers, but we will use what we have to start with.”
The Interlodge team has been going since 2007 and started out with a NYYC 42. Interlodge 2 and 3 were TP52s, Interlodge 4 is the custom Botin 44 that they race from the New York YC. Interlodge 5 was the boat they built in 2017 which became Gladiator, and then Interlodge 6 was the 2015 Bronenosec and now 7 is the 2018 Azzurra.