Countdown to GC32 Racing Tour

Published on April 24th, 2017

For its fourth season, the GC32 Racing Tour will once again be visiting top venues in Italy, Spain and France with the aim of offering competitors ‘the best foiling experience’ with solid winds and flat water. The venues also offer the most stunning scenery, making them ideal for inviting guests be they sponsors, friends or family, who can experience the GC32 social scene, while the select few may get to ride on board as a guest.

For the second consecutive season, the GC32 Racing Tour will open in Riva del Garda, again hosted by the Fraglia Vela Riva. With flat water and strong winds, plus the lake’s breath-taking setting, surrounded by the towering Italian Alps, Lake Garda is considered a sailing mecca.

More than 10 teams will compete this season representing three continents, with sailors represented from four. They include a mix of professional and owner-driver teams, including several gearing up for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.

Among the ‘pros’ returning to try to improve their position on the leaderboard, is the longest serving of the GC32 teams – ARMIN STROM Sailing Team of Flavio Marazzi, President of the GC32 International Class Association. Third overall in 2016, the Swiss four time Olympic Star sailor is gunning for the top step of the podium and believes the key is his crew: “We’ve been looking for sailors who have already been to the Olympics at least once and are at a high enough level.”

Marazzi has been recruiting from the high performance 49er class, whose sailors already feature prominently in America’s Cup teams such as double Olympic medallists Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling and Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge. Joining ARMIN STROM Sailing Team is German Erik Heil who claimed bronze at Rio 2016. Also on board are Alain Sign and Iago Lopez Marra, leading 49er sailors respectively from Britain and Spain.

Marazzi explains: “There’s a lot of pressure and you need people who are used to the speed and the tactics required to sail fast boats – how you look ahead, do the starts, etc.”

As Class President Marazzi is pleased the GC32 Racing Tour continues to grow both in terms of its fleet size and competitiveness. “Everyone recognises you have to practice more, so the level will definitely be higher this year.”

Also returning is another Swiss team in Esteban Garcia’s Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc. Clerc said: “Competing at an international level with the best sailing teams has been a campaign objective from the outset. The GC32 Racing Tour is unique for its one design boats being at the cutting edge, but it also features spectacular venues, such as Lake Garda and Palma, and brings great excitement to crowds and sailors alike.”

Realteam finished ninth overall in 2016 which Clerc acknowledges was due to their lack of time in the GC32. This time they have trained more – one or two weeks every month since January. The team also competes in Switzerland on D35 and Flying Phantoms catamarans.

Among their crew, Loic Forestier, Cédric Schmidt and Rémi Aeschimann remain, but joining their squad are three from Team Tilt – Lucien Cujean, Bryan Mettraux and Arthur Cevey, plus Christophe Carbonnières, previously with Team ENGIE.

Frenchman Sébastien Rogues and his Team ENGIE have also been putting in the hours on the water, the pay-off from which they demonstrated regularly podiuming in races at March’s GC32 Championship in Oman. Rogues says their 2017 objective on the GC32 Racing Tour is to win more and finish on the podium. “In Oman we reached a new level and I think it is possible to win the Tour. With ENGIE, our objective in year one was to discover the flying boats, in year two it was learning about them and year three, this year, it is to be competitive.”

Team ENGIE’s crew remains the same as it did for the end of the 2016, mostly comprising young talented sailors from the F18 and Flying Phantom catamaran classes, such as tactician Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot, who joined Team ENGIE from Spindrift racing.

Rogues is especially looking forward to having two French events on the 2017 circuit in Marseille and Calvi. In the meantime he can’t wait for Riva. “It is just amazing – the perfect spot for sailing. It is good for GC32s, for windsurfing, for kitesurfing, it good for everything. So I think we will take it all…”

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2017 GC32 Racing Tour
11-14 May – GC32 Riva Cup / Riva del Garda, Italy
28 June-1 July – TBA
2-5 August – 36 Copa del Rey / Palma de Mallorca, Spain
13-16 September – TBA
12-15 October – Marseille One Design / Marseille, France

About the GC32 Racing Tour:
2017 will be the fifth year of the GC32 Racing Tour and its fourth since the GC32 was transformed into a foiler over the winter of 2013-14. The GC32 Racing Tour seeks to attract both private owner-driven boats and commercially-backed teams with a circuit aimed at providing the best foiling catamaran experience for participants. This remit includes choosing venues known to provide optimum wind conditions for foiling and race courses large enough to enable the boats to hit maximum speeds.

About the GC32
The GC32 is a 10m long (12m including bowsprit) by 6m wide foiling catamaran conceived by Laurent Lenne and designed by Dr Martin Fischer, now part of the Groupama Team France design team. It is built in carbon fibre by Premier Composite Technologies in Dubai.

The GC32 is fitted with T-foil rudders and J-shaped daggerboards/foils, conceptually similar to those used on the America’s Cup catamarans, with adjustable rake on all appendages. However relative to the boat’s size, the foils are substantially larger, allowing the GC32 to foil even in low wind speeds and with much great stability and ease. Despite having big foils, GC32s are fast! Alinghi holds the record with a peak speed of 39.21 knots.

Unlike the AC catamarans, the GC32 features a more manageable soft-sail rig and has one design sails. It is demountable with a two piece mast for easy transportation.

Source: Sailing Intelligence

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