North Sails NEWS
SÎME FANTELA: OLYMPIC GOLD TO TP52’s
New Boat. New Expertise. New Ventures.
Brononosec recently launched the only new boat competing in the 2019 52 Super Series. They also have a fresh sailing team that includes Olympic gold medalist Sîme Fantela.
After winning at Rio2016 in the 470, Sîme (pronounced “Shee-meh”) is now sailing the 49er with his brother Mihovil. For most sailors, an Olympic skiff campaign would be enough of a challenge, but Sîme says joining Team Brononosec for the 2019 season is a great fit. “Doing the pro circuit gives me an edge in the Olympic world, but also vice versa—I am so sharp coming from a big fleet, where everyone is so hungry and all the guys are living one hundred percent the Olympic campaign. On the pro circuit, I’m quite young and I push hard, so I think I have the edges on both sides.”
Brononosec sailed Palma Vela as a warmup regatta after only a week of training on the new boat, so they were happy to post a couple of top-three finishes over four days of racing. “The goal was to see if everything works correctly,” Sîme explains, “see if we can get the boat around the course in one piece.” He laughs. “The shore crew must be quite happy because we didn’t have any major things for repair! And the sailing team is really happy with how the boat performs—there is no weak point of the equipment or the sail inventory. In a straight line we can beat all the boats, so that’s the best we can ask for the beginning of the season.”
“It is really good fun, really amazing sailing, 20 knots plus flying downwind surfing! We put the boat under nice pressure and nice loads, so I think it’s ready for the series.”
Despite straight line speed, there’s plenty of work to do before they will win regattas in such a tight fleet. The goal for 2019 is to synchronize teamwork and polish boathandling. “Everyone is trying to find the best way to run the boat from the start to the finish,” Sîme says, adding that he first met many of his new teammates just before the regatta. “It’s a mix of younger and older guys, all hungry with the same passion as me—wanting to win, wanting to give their best and perform well. Everyone is searching for that small, small difference and try to get an edge to win.”
As a strategist, Sîme’s job is to keep an eye on the overall race course and feed his observations to tactician Morgan Larson. “Where the gains will be, where we should start, and which side we should take upwind and downwind.”
Sailing with fourteen people is quite different from steering a double-handed boat, and he’s excited by the chance to focus on one skill. “All my life I was doing many roles all together; meteorologist, strategist, tactician, and helm. Here every member of the team is doing one job. That’s why communication is super important; as few words as you can, but be precise. What you say, when you say it, and how you give information is as important as boathandling or tweaking and tuning the boat.”
Sîme also jumps in to help grind during the prestart, helps hoist and drop the spinnaker, and plays the vang downwind when the breeze is strong enough. “It is really good fun, really amazing sailing, 20 knots plus flying downwind surfing! We put the boat under nice pressure and nice loads, so I think it’s ready for the series.”
The first scoring event of the 2019 52 Super Series is underway in Menorca, and Sîme plans to focus on starting well. “We can improve definitely there, and that would be the biggest gain for our team.” As for those who tell him that big-boat sailing will distract from his 2020 Olympic goals, Sîme shrugs. “I tell them winning in the 52 Super Series is about consistency, so it’s very similar to Olympic sailing.” Such high-level racing is also a childhood dream come true, he adds. “I really like it, and I’m excited about the rest of the season.”