Minoprio the catamaran ace
Despite his lack of catamaran experience, former Match Racing World Champion Adam Minoprio proved his dominance on day two of the GC32 Austria Cup today, winning all his races to take the overall lead in this inaugural event of The Great Cup.
The competition also had a different complexion today, being held off the Allianz Traunsee Race Week centre of Gmunden at the northern end of Lake Traunsee. Away from Ebensee and ‘Little Garda’ where racing was held yesterday, there was a longer wait for the sea breeze to fill in. When it arrived, it did so slowly and with the light northeasterly breeze blowing straight off the land there were bullets of wind across the course, requiring tacticians to stay on their toes as once again they raced two lap windward-leewards.
Today the fleet has one light with a vital replacement part for SPAX Solutions Sailing Team due to arrive in Gmunden tonight. With only two of the Martin Fischer-designed GC32 catamarans available, so a fresh series was set up especially. This involved all six teams competing, first sailing a round robin where each team got to sail twice. According to their result in this, the teams were then divided into gold, silver and bronze matches for their finals, winner of the gold match claiming first place, etc.
Clearly comfortable with the boat on boat format (although it wasn’t being sailed under match racing rules) Minoprio first dispatched AEZ GC32 Youth Sailing Team and then SPAX Solution Sailing Team.
Similarly Marwin Team, skippered by Swiss Olympic Star sailor Flavio Marazzi, won their races against AEZ GC32 Racing, skippered by Austrian hope and former Tornado World Champion, Andreas Hagara and then Firefly, sailing their first race today with Dutch former Tornado Olympic sailor Pim Nieuwenhuis at the helm.
The gold final between Marwin Team and Minoprio was a classic example of racing today with Minoprio leading off the line and forcing his opponent off to the unfavoured right. Minoprio led comfortablty around the windward mark, but Marazzi found more breeze on the run and the two boats rounded the leeward gate overlapped. However on the next lap the Kiwi match racing ace got the better of his Swiss opponent to take the win.
In Minoprio’s crew is Austrian Thomas Tschepen, Italian Diego Stefani while on main sheet is half German, half American leading Hobie 16 sailor Andy Dinsdale. Recently Dinsdale has also sailed some Extreme 40s. “There is so much innovation in the GC32 - it is a beautiful multihull,” he says.
As to their success today Dinsdale praised Minoprio’s ability in the pre-starts. “He tries to keep his focus on the other boats and being ahead of them on the line - in starting sequences he is unbeatable which is really helpful on the short course.”
Also making a strong start today, after not being able to race yesterday was the Dutch Firefly team, which won the silver final race against AEZ GC32 Youth Sailing Team, to take third place overall today.
“I was very much looking forward to it, because we spent a lot of time waiting,” said helmsman Pim Nieuwenhuis. “The GC32s are awesome - nice boats to sail. It is nice doing this kind of match racing and all of the guys are having a lot of fun. All of our matches were pretty close and I tried to keep them that way because I don’t like people just banging the corners and putting it all on black. It was real battle.”
While the Firefly team have sailed together a lot before and there is considerable multihull experience in the team, Nieuwenhuis said that in the brief time they have had on board the boat they haven’t managed to get grips with the GC32’s state of the art S-foils and L-profile rudders.
For Laurent Lenne, helmsman of SPAX Solutions Sailing Team, it was his first real taste of the event he created, which has been 16 months in gestation: “The wind was very hard and it was very hard to know where you had to go at the beginning of a race. Sometimes you could come back easily but blow it at the end of the race. But the good guys were really good and it was a great enjoy day.
“I am loving it. It is even better than I thought it would be. Today the wind was good, even if it was a little light at the beginning. Then we had the live streaming up for the first time and people can see how we are growing into this stuff.
“And when the teams were not sailing we were on the VIP boat where we got an amazing view over the landscape. Everyone coming back from the boats enjoyed themselves. All the guests who have been on board like it. We have a big screen on the square. It is a great racing spectacle. That is where we want to go.”
Tomorrow Lenne’s own Spax Solution Sailing Team GC32 will be back in action bringing the brand new GC32s back up to their full complement of three. At Allianz Traunsee Week next year Lenne hopes his state of the art catamarans will have taken off and there will be more than 15 boats on the start line. Judging from the reaction of the sailors this is no pipe dream.
Photos below by Christophe Launay/www.sealaunay.com