Hammer Down on GC32 Racing Tour
Sotogrande, Spain (September 22, 2016) – Adam Minoprio steered NORAUTO to five straight victories on a breezy first day at the GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup in the south of Spain.
The warm Poniente westerly breeze was blowing around 14 knots at the start of the afternoon but later picked up to gusting 20 knots, with the fleet putting a reef in their mainsails after two of the five races. It didn’t matter what configuration the GC32s were racing in, however, NORAUTO was the master of all situations.
Even when Minoprio pulled the trigger slightly too soon at the start of Race 3, the French team completed its penalty efficiently and was already vying for the lead at the bottom of the first downwind leg.
“The other boats rounded the first turning mark a bit wide and we managed a tighter turn which put us on the inside track before the first gybe,” said Minoprio, whose two years of solid training with Luna Rossa, the now disbanded America’s Cup team, has stood him in good stead for mastering the new science of high-speed hydrofoiling.
Team Tilt, with helmsman Sébastien Schneiter recently returned from competing at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, was looking sharp, coming second in three of the five races. However, gear failure led to a retirement from Race 4 which has added expensive points to their score. However the Swiss still hold second place overall on the leaderboard, on equal points with third-placed Team ENGIE who sailed a great day, completing all races and finishing second in race four.
Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco also sailed a very solid day, coming second in the first race and finishing all races, refusing to allow a problem with their mast track defeat them as they limped across the finish line of one race a long way behind the rest of the fleet. Realteam got better as the day went on, Jérôme Clerc steering the Swiss boat to third place in the final two heats, and sitting in fifth overall.
Flavio Marazzi was less happy with his outing on ARMIN STROM after the boat succumbed to equipment failure that put him out of the second and third races before getting back on the race course to complete the day. Normally Marazzi and his crew – which includes World Match Racing Champion Phil Robertson – love the big breeze so today will be seen as a missed opportunity for the Swiss crew.
For Naofumi Kamei, it’s early days at the helm of his GC32 called Mamma Aiuto!, and today’s strong winds were a big challenge for the team which is still short on training time. The crew is not inexperienced; it includes two 49er stars, former World Champion Javier de la Plaza and 2008 Olympic Champion Martin Kirketerp, but things happen quickly in the GC32 and there is no margin for error as De la Plaza explained: “We had just got on to the downwind leg in the second race and the boat was riding too high on the foil. We should have been running it lower so that the boat was riding lower to the water.”
The boat leapt out of the water before crashing back down at great speed, the boat rapidly decelerating from 32 knots to a dead stop. Kamei and crewman Manuel Weiller were thrown up in the air, over the top of the crew and past the front beam before they landed in the water. While Kamei escaped without injury, Weiller was taken ashore and to hospital to have an injury to his knee checked over. No major damage, although it looks unlikely Weiller will be part of the race crew for the next three days of the event.
Tomorrow the breeze looks lighter in Sotogrande which will come as a relief to some, although probably not NORAUTO who – at a top speed of 37 knots today – looked majestic and very much in command of the challenging conditions of day one. Friday’s racing begins at 1300 CET.
Teams competing at the GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup
ARMIN STROM Sailing Team (SUI) skipper Flavio Marazzi
Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco (MON) skipper Pierre Casiraghi
Mamma Aiuto! (JPN) skipper Naofumi Kamei
NORAUTO (FRA) skipper Adam Minoprio (NZL)
Realteam (SUI) skipper Jérôme Clerc
Team ENGIE (FRA) skipper Sébastien Rogues
Team Tilt (SUI) skipper Sébastien Schneiter
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: GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup 2016 – Sotogrande, Spain
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.