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Slow Day at GC32 Championship

Published on March 3rd, 2017

Muscat, Oman (March 3, 2017) – A challenging third day for competitors and race management alike at the GC32 Championship saw France’s Team ENGIE claim the only race to be completed successfully. After a disappointing seventh place, Oman Air still leads overall, but is now just three points clear of Jes Gram-Hansen and Rasmus Køstner’s SAP Extreme Sailing Team in second.

The GC32 Championship is being run in Oman off Muscat’s Al Mouj by the GC32 International Class Association in association with OC Sport. Today race 10 of the Championship got underway on time at 1300 local (UTC +4) in an 8-9 knot northerly, that at times reached double figures, enabling the 11 one design catamarans to get fully up on their foils.

Given the proliferation of general recalls and black flags during the previous race day, the first start was surprisingly not general recalled, although there were three boats over early: Team Tilt, Argo and Red Bull Sailing Team, who all had to drop back behind the last of the boats that had started legally, before they could sheet on again. Most found it hard to recover from this although Team Tilt, skippered by Sébastien Schneiter, came out best, managing a fifth.

After a slow beginning to this inaugural GC32 Championship, Chris Steele and Graeme Sutherland’s newbie GC32 crew on Tawera Racing have been getting in their stride and managed the best start in today’s race. However the Kiwi crew got rolled at the second leeward gate by the old hands on SAP Extreme Sailing Team. As the breeze turned patchy on the second upwind, Sébastien Rogues’ Team ENGIE found more consistent breeze on the opposite side of the course and went on to take its second bullet of this Championship.

“Yesterday we went out training in these conditions because on the second day we saw that when it was lighter, it was difficult for us,” admitted Rogues. “So we learned a few things with our coach and we practised our manoeuvres. It worked, because today was very good for us: We had good speed and Gurvan [Bontemps] was good on our strategy. We are very happy.”

Several attempts were made to complete a second race. One got most of the way round the course despite the wind dropping to 5 knots, before the 35 minute maximum race time limit was exceeded and it was abandoned.

This race had been started under a black flag, warning of instant disqualification for any boat over early. Despite this Team ENGIE nailed the start perfectly and Rogues was pleased that, for a second time, they had been leading when the whistle was finally blown on this race. Today’s result moved Team ENGIE up to fifth place overall.

Peter Greenhalgh, Oman Air’s mainsail trimmer, who has been sailing regularly in the waters off Muscat for almost a decade, said that today’s conditions were not unusual and hoped that tomorrow would provide more opportunity to hold racing. Of their race today, he added “our start wasn’t so good and while you always have a chance to get back on the first run, the first run didn’t go that well either for us, while it did for SAP Extreme Sailing Team. Then up the last beat and we let two boats go past.”

SVB Team Germany and the other new youth team, Youth Vikings Denmark, have been occupying the bottom of the leaderboard so far this week as they learn the ropes on the powerful GC32 foiling catamaran. However today the Germans had a promising second race when they were lying third at the leeward gate, before the race was subsequently abandoned.

Tactician Max Kohlhoff, one of three Kohlhoff brothers sailing on the German GC32, said: “We were really looking forward to this light day, because we knew it would be a bit easier to finish closer to the front of the fleet. Also it is good practice for us. Unfortunately the wind completely died.”

Conditions are looking similar tomorrow, the penultimate day of the GC32 Championship, with the wind peaking at around 1400 local time, so PRO John Craig has made the call to start racing an hour earlier – at 1200 local.


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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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