The 52 SUPER SERIES will welcome a new team to the world’s leading grand prix monohull circuit when Hong Kong based team Alpha Plus Racing debuts in the beautiful south of France when the 2023 season gets under way May 2-7 at the 52 SUPER SERIES Saint Tropez Sailing Week.
For the owners and crew who are long time fans and followers of the circuit it will be something of a dream come true when step up from high-calibre national and international racing out of Hong Kong to test themselves in the uncompromising, high octane world of 52 SUPER SERIES competition.
Their TP52 Alpha Plus which was built and launched as Luna Rossa in May 2018 and has been in refit with Guy Barron and a small techncial team in Sagunto near Valencia is due to be launched in April for test sailing just prior to the Saint Tropez curtain raiser.
The owners and crew have been very much inspired by the success and obvious enjoyment evident during 2021 and 2022 by Thailand’s Whitcraft family as Team Vayu. The owners are originally from China and now live in Hong Kong and have had boats for just over 10 years, always having the distant goal of racing a TP52 and then, when the time was right for them, joining the 52 SUPER SERIES.
After a Beneteau cruiser-racer they built a Ker 46+ and when the opportunity to buy Luna Rossa came up in January 2020 they seized the chance.
Enthuses Steve Trebitsch, runner trimmer and one of the long time driving forces of the Alpha Plus crew, “We have been quite lucky over the last couple of years in that we have been able to go sailing a fair amount, racing against a few local TP52s so we have done a bit of sailing but we join the circuit looking to learn, to improve and with no real hopes and expectations beyond that.”
“The team have come a long way together. With the Ker we basically started at the back of the fleet and kind of no one really knew what was going on and then over the course of two or three years we learned together, got to the stage where we were pretty competitive. When we sailed well we did alright.”, Trebitsch recalls.
Some of the core members of the team started out on the Beneteau and have progressed together to this level so this is a close knit group which is looking forwards to their new challenge together. They have three Grade 3 professionals in the Alpha Plus crew but the main core of the crew are amateurs. But seasoned 52 SUPER SERIES pros will reinforce the line up in Saint Tropez and are understood to include Paul ‘Flipper’ Westlake, Craig Monk, Simon Daubney and Ian Walker.
Trebitsch continues, “We love the 52 SUPER SERIES. We have loved watching all the live broadcasts from afar and now can’t wait to be in amongst it. It has come at a perfect time for us. And our owner is very keen on bringing in younger sailors, we have a strong connection with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, we are very much a local team to there.”
He adds, “Over the first season we are coming to learn, we have no real goals. We know the learning curve is going to be steep and really the first objective will be to get the boat around the track well and then build on that, make some friends on the circuit. We don’t have any illusions about getting results. It will be the first time our owner has really campaigned like this.”
“We are quite an eclectic team of Hong Kong locals and ex-pats. We are all around the yacht club a lot and a few of us have kids around the same age. Some of our guys have raced against Team Vayu in Asian regattas over the years and we have seen them now go out and really make a good account of themselves, so that is giving our guys and bit of confidence. And the Vayu crew seem to be really enjoying it.”
Guy Barron who was most recently with the Provezza team concludes, “I think when we saw the boat sail on the circuit last as Luna Rossa it was a very good boat which was well sailed. It is very simply set up and has not really been pushed hard these last couple of seasons. I would say we still have a very new boat. And it is encouraging because a few of the sailors we know on the circuit are saying ‘wow, you have a good boat there’. One of the things I think is looking at the Vayu team and how they are relaxed and enjoying themselves and learning from that. Everybody there are friends. And the atmosphere in this team is really great.”