Kiwi Kings at GC32 Racing Tour

Published on August 3rd, 2016

Palma de Mallorca, Spain (August 3, 2016) – Phil Robertson applied his Kiwi magic to the GC32 Racing Tour on the opening day of foiling catamaran racing at 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE.

Taking over the helm of Flavio Marazzi’s ARMIN STROM Sailing Team, and with a crew including Sharon Ferris-Choat, currently the GC32 Racing Tour’s sole female competitor, Robertson coolly steered the Swiss catamaran to podium finishes in all but one of today’s five races. This was despite this being his first GC32 Racing Tour regatta as helmsman.

“It was fantastic today,” commented Robertson. “A little bit tricky with the waves, as the breeze built and the day wore on – it got harder and harder to keep the boat stable downwind, but it was a lot of fun.”

Racing started at 1300, with a couple of false starts, both due to third party craft erring on to the race course before they were ushered away by course marshalls who police the perimeter of the race course. Crews got the chance to ease themselves in slowly with 8-9 knots of wind, building to around 14-15 and backing as the sea breeze developed through the afternoon.

While Robertson made it look easy, in fact it was anything but. “The boats are beasts to keep up with and the crew is always scrambling to stay one step ahead of the game. We have put quite a bit of time into making sure our manoeuvres get better, and we seem to be getting a handle on it. Our speed was really good today – we felt really quick, which was a massive positive.”

However it is tight at the top: ARMIN STROM Sailing Team ends the day just one point ahead of the French NORAUTO, on which another Kiwi, Adam Minoprio, has temporarily taken over the helm from Volvo Ocean Race winner Franck Cammas.

Unlike the Swiss leader, NORAUTO’s day was one of dramatic improvement, scoring two bullets in the final two races. A fifth in race one occurred when a gennaker halyard slipped on the second run. The French team is hampered by a couple of last minute crew changes – the final one, Franck Cammas’ C-Class World Championship winning crew, Louis Viat, only arriving in Majorca this morning.

If the short chop continues this week, it could favour Minoprio who spent much time match racing GC32s in Brittany over last winter in similar waves to today’s.

“It’s challenging, but I find it awesome when there’s a good sea state,” said the former Match Racing World Champion and Volvo Ocean Race sailor. “You really have to work the boat hard downwind to keep it stable and fast. We felt very fast downwind, which was good, but if you weren’t fast around the reaching mark, you’d have to get around the guy(s) in front of you and do extra gybes.”

Team Tilt, winner of the last event on the GC32 Racing Tour, got off to a good start today winning the second race, but finished last in race four after a technical issue and followed this up with a disqualification for being over early under a black flag start in the last race. This leaves Team Tilt sixth overall, level on points with Mamma Aiuto!

The GC32 Racing Tour’s only Japanese entry, this is Mamma Aiuto!’s second tour event, but first with Japanese owner, Naofumi Kamei, driving. Tactician on board is local sailor, Manu Weiller, who won here in Palma last year under IRC on the Mamma Aiuto! team’s TP52. Today they started with a promising two races but are now seventh overall, tied on points with Team Tilt.

Naofumi Kamei helmed for the whole day, and Weiller observed: “In the last two races it was on the limit of windy and wavy conditions for him. In the first two races, he did an awesome job, with very good starts, etc. So, it was much better than expected for the first day. We are very happy.”

The GC32s were today sailing their traditional windward-leeward course, but with a reaching start and finish. This was on the Copa del Rey MAPFRE course closest to the shore where the bottom shelves steeply, a feature which contributed to today short chop. As Phil Robertson observed: “The waves are steep as well so it is hard to stay stable and a lot of people were crashing down. That is going to be a big key – there will be some opportunities to pass and be stable rather than just follow the leader. It will be a good week – the leaderboard will be up and down.”

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About the GC32 Racing Tour:
2016 is the fourth year of the GC32 Racing Tour and its third since the GC32 was transformed into a foiler over the winter of 2013-4.

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.

2016 GC32 Racing Tour schedule:
26-29 May: GC32 Riva Cup – Riva del Garda, Italy
7-10 July: GC32 Malcesine Cup at The Foiling Week – Malcesine, Italy
3-6 August: 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE – Palma de Mallorca, Spain
22-25 September: TBA
13-16 October: Marseille One Design – Marseille, France

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: GC32 Racing Tour

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