The racing series consists of short windward/leeward and longer, offshore races that will take the fleet to the Bahamas and back.
'Victory in this regatta will be achieved by the team that performs flawlessly and finishes well in every one of the ten scheduled races as there is no discard race,' said TP52 class executive director Tom POLLACK. 'This regatta will be a true test of each team's skill, daring and preparation as they compete to be named the inaugural Rolex TP52 Global champion.'
'The appeal of the TP52 is sailing on an incredibly high performance and fun boat against the best sailors in the world on an extremely level playing field,' said John COUMANTAROS (USA), owner of Bambakou. 'We were exceeding 25 knots of boat speed in Key West, in January, and it was, mostly, all under control.'
Introducing an element of offshore racing to the mix have proved one of the assets of the TP52. The race schedule for the 2006 Rolex TP52 Global Championship will feature two days (7-8 March) of windward-leeward buoy racing, followed by an 18 to 24 hour long distance race (9-10 March). According POLLACK, if the weather and the Gulf Stream oblige, the distance race will be a literal blast across to the Bahamas and back. The next day is a five to seven hour coastal race (11 March), and the event concludes with a final day of windward-leeward racing (12 March). The scoring for this no discard, boat for boat series is also weighted with the distance and coastal races scoring 1.5 times and the 1.25 times the points earned, respectively.
This combination of challenges is what attracts not only many of the world's top sailing crew to the TP52, but also the boat owners, who get to steer their own craft. Under the rules, only the owner or a sailor who is Category 1 (an amateur under the ISAF Sailor Classification) can helm. For the Rolex TP52 Global Championship there is an additional trophy for the top scoring owner who decides to be on the helm for the start of every buoy race plus the start and first 30 minutes of the distance and coastal races.
Nine teams will take the start line with the largest contingent from the USA, including race veteran COUMANTAROS and his Bambakou, Charles BURNETT (USA) on Braveheart, John BUCHAN's (USA) Glory and Michael BRENNAN (USA) on Sjambok. From Honolulu and California comes one of the USA's most prolific sailor/owners, Philippe KAHN and his latest Pegasus, while the newest of the American boats is Tom STARK's (USA) new Farr-designed Rush, second in January at Acura Key West Race Week.
'There is a lot of talent in this fleet and any of the participants can win,' says KAHN of the line up. 'It will be real tight racing and our goal is to sail to our best potential.'
Europe is represented by Irishman Eamon CONNEELY's Patches and Stuart ROBINSON's (GBR) brand new Farr-designed Stay Calm.
From the opposite side of the world comes Beau Geste, owned by Hong Kong based owner Karl KWOK.
While any of the nine entries is capable of winning, Stay Calm can perhaps be considered favourite for Miami, as the boat beat Rush when the class last locked horns in Key West.
'We hope to minimize mistakes and stay in close contention to have our shot at the title on the last day,' says Bambakou owner COUMANTAROS of their prospects. 'There are the coastal or distance races which we feel are our particular forte. This mixes it up a bit from around the buoys. The new boats are fast, no doubt, and have to a degree a competitive edge, but by far the overriding factor is sailing well as a team. If we sail well, we will be very much in the hunt. It is going to be a great event.'
Punctuating the racing is a series of social events; some combined with Acura Miami Race Week, the event in which the 2006 Rolex TP52 Global Championship takes part. The social schedule culminates after the distance race on 10 March with a party hosted by Rolex at the magnificent Casa Casuarina on Ocean Drive. Here the brand new two metre tall TP52 Global Championship Perpetual Trophy will be presented.