GC32 catamarans to compete at Cowes Week
Launched earlier this year, The Great Cup, is to make its UK debut at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.
The circuit, due to launch properly in 2014, is raced in latest generation GC32 one design catamarans. These have been designed by foil expert and fluid mechanics PhD Martin Fischer, designer of several World Championship winning F18 dinghy catamarans such as the Phantom, as well as the foils on Franck Cammas’ Volvo Ocean Race victor, Groupama.
These 10m long by 6m wide catamarans are built by Premier Composite Technologies in Dubai and feature reverse ‘Dreadnought’ bows, L-profile rudders and unique double S-shaped daggerboards, with control lines to alter their pitch.
To get technical momentarily - the daggerboards are not raised and lowered between tacks, but are always either fully or partially down. Fully lowered, the daggerboards provide maximum area to prevent leeway when sailing upwind. Uniquely, in this configuration the pitch of the windward board can be altered thereby pulling the weather hull down and creating extra righting moment (a feature banned on AC72s). When off the wind the boards are raised slightly. This causes their surface area to be reduced and, thanks to their double-S shape, the boards to become angled in, providing vertical lift.
Three GC32s will be competing in the Multihull class at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.
Spax Solutions is being campaigned by Frenchman Laurent Lenne, creator of the Great Cup and the GC32 catamaran. While he now runs his quality management company in Amsterdam, Lenne spent his formative years studying yacht design in Southampton. “I am really exciting to bring this new class to Cowes Week,” he says. “It has been years since I last sailed on the Solent, but I have great memories of it and I am looking forward to some exciting sailing there.”
Racing with Lenne will be his right hand man in the Great Cup, Australian former Tornado sailor Andrew Macpherson, plus Swedish Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mikael Lundh and young New Zealand match racer and former China Team AC45 crewman James Williamson.
An all-British GC32 crew will be racing on Time on the Water, named after the company run by former Team GBR Olympic Tornado sailor and Extreme 40 helmsman Hugh Styles. On board with Styles, who is today coach of British Laser Radial ace Ali Young, will be other ex-Team GBR squad members, 470 sailor Richard Mason and 49er crew Rick Peacock, plus catamaran expert Adam Piggott.
“It's great to bring such a cutting edge technology catamaran to the UK,” enthuses Styles. “I’m really looking forward to steaming down the Solent at 27 knots. Cowes will be a great venue to showcase the boat in conventional Solent course racing. Plus the GC32, like the X40, can race with a fifth man on board, so in the afternoon we can share experience with any guests who are lucky enough to have a go.”
Another strong contender will be Flavio Marazzi’s Marwin. Marazzi is making his transition to catamarans having previously represented his native Switzerland in the Star class at both the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games. Also racing on board is Swiss 470 turned Nacra 17 Olympic catamaran sailor Matías Bühler, Diego Stefani from Uruguay and France’s Nicolas Heintz.
“I'm looking forward to my first Cowes Week and the first international appearance of the GC32 class in a traditional regatta on the open water,” says Marazzi. “We also feel ready to test the boat in windy and choppy conditions in the Solent. The regatta will show that catamaran sailing can be indeed a lot of fun for sailors, guests AND spectators.”
The first ever regatta for the Great Cup was held during Allianz Traunsee Race Week on Lake Traunsee in Austria in May, and the boats have since competed in the Bol d’Or Mirabaud, the foremost event on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. As Marazzi states, Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week will be the first ever occasion the GC32s have raced on ‘the sea’. The crews are looking forward to competing in some more lively conditions than they have seen to date. At full throttle the boats are capable of sailing in excess of 30 knots.
The GC32s are entered in the Multihull class at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week and will race over the final four days - Wednesday until Saturday (7-10 August). While they will sail the one race per day with the Multihull class, if conditions allow they may hold additional racing informally elsewhere on the Solent or sail around the Isle of Wight afterwards.