The TP52 Rule is a Boxrule, the boats build under this rule have to literaly fit a box of the dimensions as given in the TP52 Rule. That is a simple idea, easy to understand for everybody. However there are quite some rules underneath the box, or if you wish hidden inside the box, like the rules on construction (ABS or ISO from 2010), the rules on safety (OSR) and the World Sailing racing and equipment rules (RRS and ERS), that have to be read and understood as well.
The TP52 Rule reads in its Introduction:
The Transpac 52 Rule is intended to produce a class of fast, monohull keelboats for level racing. Reliability and self-sufficiency are primary objectives. Development is allowed in such factors as hull shape, foil shape, construction, interior, deck layout and rigging. However speed producing factors such as lenght, displacement, draft and sailarea are strictly controlled. Yachts in this Class shall sail without time allowance. Any developments which are contrary to this purpose may give rise to rule changes.
And that is just what we aim for.
As things are never perfect also our rule gets updated constantly. Every Annual Meeting sofar changes to the rule have been approved by the TP52 Members. A big step was taken in 2007 when a complete rewrite of the TP52 Rule was unanimously accepted by the Members. This rewrite deleted IMS as one of the underlying Rules for the TP52 Rule. That was achieved by writing the parts that the Class used of IMS into the TP52 Rule, thus making the rule a lot more compact and easier to read.
However it is widely felt this is not enough as the main stumblings blocks of the IMS, the inaccuracy and complexity of measuring the hulls and of the inclining procedure are still in place. So further study is underway to see whether it is possible to replace these IMS relics basicly by a seperate box for the keel and fin, so that keel and fin are controlled by given dimensions and weights, instead of trying to establish the boats centre of gravity in a costly and complicated way. Of course the main consideration for the transition will be not to hurt the competitiveness of the current fleet. The existing TP52’s should be as competitive as they are under the current rule after they adjusted their keels and interior ballast situation to what the update of the Rule requires. I like to think the results of this study and the decision on how to proceed will be made late 2008, possibly for implementation in 2010. Under our Bylaws it are the Members who are in control of this.
2 Years later
We write september 2009 and the TP52 Class Members have decided to put a complete new TP52 Rule in place for 2011. No more inclining, no more hullfiles, etc. Just weights and tape measurements, like IRC. The new rule in wording and set-up is streamlined to ISAF requirements for class rules and it is attempted to use terms that follow the Equipment Rules of Sailing. Allready in 2010 the first of the new breed TP52's is expected to stretch its legs and show us the way to go for the next decade.
Six new boats build to the 2011 TP52 Rule are now racing in the Audi MedCup, together with two of the 2009 generation boats. We have achieved what we aimed for, the updated existing boats are competitive and race on par with the new generation. The first generation 2011 boats have explored various lines of thinking on design and layout and we are by no means near a final optimum solution for the 2011 concept. Downwind the boats are significantly faster due to being lighter and better balanced, upwind there is marginal improvement. Structurally the new rule truly produces boats that can race in any condition. The boats are very much a TP52, loosing a lot of coachroof volume has helped to even cleaner looks.
The demise of the Audi MedCup forced us to rethink our planning. The class members have decided to set up a management entity in charge of marketing and organizing our racing from 2013. 2012 is to be seen as a transitional year in which we will race at some of the best events in the Med as well as organize a few events ourselves. Noticibly the Trofeo Conde de Godo (Barcelona), the Sardinia Cup and three events organized by the Real Club Nautico Palma, the Palma Vela, Royal Cup and Copa del Rey.
Indeed the number of participants of 52 Super series has grown by 40%. We now feel another step in rule development is required to encourage owners to build new boats. In Europe and the USA we can not really expand anymore without new boats being build. The Class, inspired once more by Bill Lee pushing for a new "Fast & Fun" concept, HPR, decides to further speed up the TP52 and go more high tech on the rig and rigging as well as permit to build to the latest trends in deck layout. The 2015 TP52 Rule is put in place. In 2014 we already will see boats build to that rule, but temporarily slowed down to race level with the existing fleet. For 2015 we foresee over half of the Super Series fleet to be new boats. Existing boats can be adapted to the 2015 Rule.
The TP52 Phoenix is build to the 2015 rule and races the 2014 Super Series at par with the existing fleet by reducing her draft and sail area. She shows the way to many owners interested to build new. In fact nine owners decide to do so and by the end of 2014 TP52s are under construction in Spain, New Zealand, Italy and Dubai.
With 12 boats, of which 9 new, on the water at the first Super Series event in 2015 there was no need for further convincing the sailing world and the owners that 'we' made the right move. The boats are truly state of the art for 2015, they perform as they look and sailors and press are united in their opinion, great racing / great boats. The 2015 TP52 Rule will be kept stable for a minimum three years now. Earliest 2018 we will possibly see an upgrade again. Development never stops, the class will keep the finger at the pulse of our sport and come the time decide which road to follow...
By mid 2017 the owners, looking ahead and realizing that a number of new builds were to be expected for 2018 if there would be a guarantee for rule stability for another two to three years, decided to put that stability in place. Only minor rule changes were passed at the Annual Member Meeting, like some cleaning up of the rules concerning the use of titanium and on the choice of engine, as the former models were outruled by environmental laws in the US and EU. So not much change rulewise till 2021. By then we know whether a foiling monohull is taking on...