Sander van der Borch Photography / Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour

GC32s sharpen their foils

Airborne cat racing at Sailing Cup Kiel fires up on Kiel Fjord tomorrow

Wednesday July 29th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: Germany

Racing gets underway tomorrow for the third foiling one design catamaran event on the 2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour, the Sailing Cup Kiel. This runs for the next four days on Kieler Förde, in the heart of Kiel on Germany’s Baltic coast.

Flavio Marazzi’s ARMIN STROM Sailing Team arrives in Kiel fresh from victory in the Cowes Cup last month. But whereas that was on the relatively spacious waters of the Solent, in brisk conditions, the Kiel race track will be might tighter.

“I’m looking forward to yet another different GC32 event this time on the Kieler Förde,” says Marazzi, who represented Switzerland four times at the Olympic Games in the Star keelboat. “After sailing on calm Lake Traunsee and the tidal waters of the Western Solent in Cowes, we will find a challenging ‘stadium-like’ course within the city of Kiel.”
 
The tight courses will favour teams or crew with backgrounds in the Extreme Sailing Series. These are Sultanate of Oman, Alinghi and Spindrift racing, whose helmsman Yann Guichard previously skippered the Gitana Extreme 40 and was tactician for Alinghi. “But,” Marazzi adds, “I’m pretty sure that all teams will find themselves often in first or last place.
 
“As we saw in the last two events, it will be all about consistency that makes the winner. I hope for nice ‘Kaiserwetter’ with great winds and sunshine to impress not only the sailors, but also the spectators and citizens of Kiel.”
 
Marazzi is also the GC32 International Class Association President and in this capacity he adds: “Kiel has been fanatical about sailing for a long time and the GC32 Class is proud to host an event in Germany for the first time. After last year’s Vodafone spectacle ‘Sailing Mona Lisa’, the GC32s are back in the Baltic Sea to carve new lines in the water.”


ARMIN STROM Sailing Team and Team ENGIE match race. Photo: Sander van der Borch / Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour
 
If the Extreme Sailing Series teams are the ones to watch, then one of the favourites should be the 2014 champions, Alinghi. In Kiel Californian Morgan Larson will stand in for Ernesto Bertarelli on the helm. However unlike his arch-rival Leigh McMillan, Larson wasn’t on the Extreme Sailing Series when it visited Kiel. “I haven’t raced there since Kiel Week in the 49er a long time ago,” he admits. In fact it was in 1999 and then it was out on the open waters off Kiel rather than on Kiel Fjord in the heart of the city.
 
“I think that will make it more boat handling-intensive. It will push us for sure, but that is a good thing,” says Larson of his expectations for this week. He also anticipates a good reaction from German fans: “The people there are enthusiastic about sailing there, so I think we’ll have quite a few people checking it out. You are going to have a lot of people coming down just to see us foiling.”

Sebastien Rogues, skipper of Team ENGIE is also looking forward to the fresh challenge of racing in Kiel’s confined waters: “We’ll adjust to this new configuration. These races will be the same for everyone; we’re not worried about that.  Only the rules change.
 
“There will necessarily be different rules, and different priorities will apply. We will need fast reflexes on these boats because they  move very quickly. That’s going to spice up the races, even more so because the courses will be very different from what we had in Austria and in England.”
 
While Leigh McMillan and his crew on Sultanate of Oman come race ready from winning the Extreme Sailing Series in nearby Hamburg last weekend, Rogues comes match fit having just completed a substantially longer event, the Tour de France a la Voile - a series of regattas around the French coast in 24ft long trimarans. However Rogues doesn’t see this as being a bonus for him.
 
“I don’t think the Tour de France à la Voile experience will contribute much to the GC32 experience. It’s completely different: The boat is longer, more powerful and speedier. We’ll be going from three to two hulls; the sensation is not at all the same. It’s true that I’m starting to acquire multihull reflexes, but the two different types of boat don’t perform in the same way. I’m excited about getting back to the GC32 circuit and I’m anxious to sail in it again.”
 
Racing at the Bullitt GC32 Sailing Cup Kiel gets underway on Wednesday at 14:45 CET with media sailing before at 1100-1300.

Competitors at the Bullitt GC32 Sailing Cup Kiel

Alinghi - SUI - Ernesto Bertarelli / Morgan Larson
ARMIN STROM Sailing Team - SUI - Flavio Marazzi
Spindrift Racing - FRA - Yann Guichard
Sultanate of Oman - OMA - Leigh McMillan
Team ENGIE - FRA - Sebastien Rogues
 

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