Having just taken overall honours at both the Heineken St. Maarten Regatta and Stanford Antigua Race Week Benny Kelly`s TP52 Panthera is now on a ship back to Europe from a very successful Caribbean campaign having joined the very famous list of names as winners of the Lord Nelson Trophy and the St. Maarten Cup. Winner of Class Super Zero at Cork Week 2006 Panthera has spent the winter in the Caribbean winning against impressive opposition such as Rambler and Leopard 3. With the promise of a fleet of TP52`s at this years Cork week Benny Kelly has decided to return to Cork from the Caribbean to take on what will prove an extremely tough challenge with several newer generation TP52`s in the fleet and a vast array of Americas Cup talent amongst the crews.
Amongst the new TP`s to Northern European shores are many of last seasons MedCup front runners including Stuart Robinson`s Stay Calm and Eamon Conneelly’s former Patches boat rebranded under new ownership.
The preparation for Cork is intensifying by the minute as the teams begin the IRC conversion of their MedCup boats trying to eek every rating benefit out of the IRC system. Fat head mains, bowsprits and bigger kites are but some of the many add ons that turn the TP52`s into IRC racing machines. With so many advances in TP designs over the last 5 years the newer generation have a clear advantage on the water over older boats such as Panthera, but with talk of IRC offering (grandfathering) age benefits to the older TP`s by the time ACCBank Cork Week begins there could be a very level playing field with Panthera once again mounting another serious challenge.
Serious Irish Challenge
Another team bound to mount a serious challenge for honours in this class is sure to be Dublin based, Colm Barrington who will again return to Cork Week, this year with his recently acquired Flash Glove, an IRC modified TP52. Colm and his team won Class Zero and the coveted Boat of the Week title in 2006 in his beautifully appointed Ker 50 Magic Glove.
Flash Glove has been in the USA for the early part of the season where she finished 2nd and 1st at Key West and SORC regattas respectively, winning the combined trophy, beating JV66 Numbers and other IRC 52’s such as Samba Pa Ti and Windquest.
Flash Glove will be fielding a strong crew line up which will include Robert & Peter Greenhalgh, Dave Lenz and as usual Colm Barrington on the helm.