First capsize as SPAX Solutions wins Cowes Week
After setting a new speed record yesterday, another new limit to GC32 racing was discovered today. While leading the final race of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, Flavio Marazzi’s Marwin team capsized its boat – the first time one of the all-new Martin Fischer-designed catamarans has ever turned over.
As usual today’s race started in relatively light winds only with a downwind start on this occasion taking the boats east down the Solent. Marazzi, twice Switzerland’s representative in the Star class at the Olympic Games, led the Laurent Lenne-steered SPAX Solutions off the start line. However Lenne was able to get back into contention after the Swiss team experienced issues with its genniker furler at the second leeward mark rounding.
The lengthy Cowes Week course then took the two GC32 catamarans on a long upwind leg into the western Solent. During this Marazzi was able to fight back to regain the lead, reaching the top mark comfortably ahead. Unfortunately while bearing away around this, the final mark of the course, with the wind up to 20 knots and a short chop having developed the tide having turned, the Swiss team managed to bury its bows, their boat tumbling over on its side.
Impressively, their GC32 remained on its side without inverting completely and it took just 15 minutes for the Great Cup’s support RIB to right it, after towing it slowly sideways. No damage was caused to the boat.
“It is part of the learning curve,” admitted Flavio Marazzi. “When we started sailing the GC32 we were trying to figure out how much we could do and where the limits were - today we definitely found the limit! During the bear away, maybe the main sheet wasn’t totally eased. There was also a lot of current going west against the wind and I think we caught a wave at the wrong stage.”
Aside from this, Marazzi says he has enjoyed racing on the Solent this week having previously only sailed his GC32 on lakes in central Europe and his native Switzerland. “I have never raced at Cowes Week. It is quite different from any other place I’ve been. There is a lot of current - it is like a river sometimes, but the sailing is great and the feeling is that people who come here are very enthusiastic about sailing.”
Andrew Macpherson, COO of the Great Cup, the circuit for the GC32 catamarans, was thrilled with the racing at Cowes Week. “It has been an absolute blast. It is the first time we’ve had the boats in front of such a huge group of people and been able to sail in perfect conditions. We built the boat to sail in this stuff.”
Yesterday and today the races both finished with the sea breeze having built to 20 knots. “We got to play in some wind and some waves and the most fun part I think was going around the fleet and seeing the difference in the speeds with other boats,” continued Macpherson.
Overall after four days of racing it was Laurent Lenne’s SPAX Solutions that came out on top, but it was close with Marazzi’s Marwin team also winning races.
The intention is for the GC32s to return to Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week in 2014.
In the shorter term, the GC32s now move on to Lake Lugano in southern Switzerland where they will compete in Regata Coppa Roda di vela at the beginning of September. After that they will take part in the biggest regatta on Lake Garda, the Centomiglia.
On a technical side there is also great development afoot. The GC32s are set up with daggerboard boxes that can accommodate different shapes of board and this autumn the intention is to install a new set of lifting foils, similar to those fitting on AC72s. So soon the GC32s will also be defying gravity, fully foiling, just like the catamarans currently racing in the America’s Cup. “That is one of the advantages of our boat. You just have to change the top and bottom bearings. 12 bolts and it is done,” concludes Macpherson.