Preparing for the big one
The 2016 GC32 Racing Tour’s concluding event, Marseille One Design, is just a week away and while the teams on the podium are looking secure, the final order isn’t.
Franck Cammas’ NORAUTO powered by Groupama Team France has dominated the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour, with the Volvo Ocean Race winner swapping helming duties with Kiwi former Match Racing World Champion, Adam Minoprio. They have won every event this year, except the GC32 Malcesine Cup. But nipping at their heels throughout has been the Swiss crew on Team Tilt, which has also never finished off the podium this season. Team Tilt goes into Marseille One Design just three points behind the leader.
This being the sole French stopover on the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour, Franck Cammas is reclaiming the helm of NORAUTO with Adam Minoprio moving to mainsheet.
Of their position on the leaderboard, Cammas realises the competition remains wide open, but “it is better to be three points ahead than three points behind! Adam has done a very good job in the last two events, so I hope we can continue that.” However Cammas admits he hasn’t sailed the GC32 since the second event of the season in Malcesine.
As to the racing in Marseille mid-October, Cammas says it could bring anything: “If it is the Mistral, maybe it is too strong, but if it is an easterly it can be flat water or there might be a sea breeze which would be nice, 15 knots. Marseille is a big city, there are a lot of sailors there and it should be a great event for the public.”
In last month’s La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup, Team Tilt finished second. Given that skipper Sébastien Schneiter had just returned from campaigning a 49er at Rio 2016, and Sotogrande was his first time helming a GC32, he was buoyed by the result.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” admits Schneiter. “We saw after the first day we were in the hunt for second and then our goal was to hang on to that. NORAUTO was a step ahead, but by the end of the event we had managed to close the gap. It will be interesting to see in Marseille, with a few more hours on the boat, if we can battle on with them.”
Still new to the GC32, Schneiter is hugely enthusiastic about the one design foiling catamaran. “Sailing this kind of boat, there is a lot more adrenalin than on others, because of the speed and the foiling – still something quite unusual in sailing. It feels more like Formula 1 where you have to be really sharp on the manoeuvres. It is really interesting, really fun racing.”
For Marseille, Schneiter is hoping to bridge the three point deficit and is also looking forward to racing in a bigger fleet – Marseille will see the return of the young Swedish crew on GUNVOR Sailing and, from the USA, ARGO of two time Melges 32 World Champion, Jason Carroll.
More confident of where he will finish this season is Flavio Marazzi, skipper of ARMIN STROM Sailing Team and GC32 Class Association President. Holding third overall in the 2016 Championship, seven points astern of Team Tilt but eight points ahead of Pierre Casiraghi’s fourth placed Malizia - Yacht Club de Monaco, the Swiss team is looking comfortable in third.
“Our team has almost no chance of coming second or fourth,” says Marazzi. “For that reason we could risk something, but our aim is to try and finish top three in the event.”
ARMIN STROM Sailing Team will keep the same crew in Marseille as it had for Sotogrande, including the ‘Million Dollar Man’ and present Match Racing World Champion, Phil Robertson and fellow Kiwi and Olympic singlehanded sailor, Andrew Murdoch. Sharon Ferris will return as coach/team manager.
Marazzi is looking forward to Marseille One Design being a grand finale to the season and is keeping his fingers crossed for either a 20-25 knot Mistral, the notorious local northwesterly wind or an easterly which would mean racing in flat water, which the GC32s relish, enabling them to hit speeds well over 30 knots.
This is the third consecutive year the GC32s have competed at Marseille One Design and Marazzi has raced all of them. “The level compared to last year is much higher. Everyone is coming from different areas of high level racing and it is hard to finish in the top three in every race.”
The third team from Switzerland is Realteam led by Jérôme Clerc. Scoring a 10, 9, 7, 5 so far in this, the team’s first season on the GC32 Racing Tour, they have shown steady improvement. “We are on a good curve! In Sotogrande, we were very close to the podium, so our goal now is to get on the podium in Marseille,” says Clerc.
He adds: “In Sotogrande we had four wonderful days of sailing with a lot of races so we could really improve racing the other guys. For example we hadn’t sailed upwind with the genniker before, so we improved a lot in the light conditions. We are getting better and better.”
Clerc says he and the Realteam crew are very much enjoying sailing the GC32. “It is an amazing boat. Every day we sail on it we learn a lot and we enjoy it. We had an amazing day in Sotogrande in big winds – it is a crazy boat! We have done 36 knots… It is not the record, but it is close.”
Nine GC32 teams are competing at Marseille One Design, with racing taking place from Thursday 13th October, until Sunday 16th. This is the third time Marseille One Design, organised by Sirius Events, has hosted the GC32s - part of its build-up to being European Capital of Sport in 2017. It will also be the venue for the sailing events, should Paris win its bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
Teams competing at Marseille One Design
ARGO (USA) skipper Jason Carroll
ARMIN STROM Sailing Team (SUI) skipper Flavio Marazzi
GUNVOR Sailing (SWE) skipper Gustav Petterson
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
|Pos||Team||Riva Cup||Malcesine Cup||35th Copa del Rey MAPFRE||La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup||Tot|
|3||ARMIN STROM Sailing Team||3||6||2||4||15|
|4||Malizia - Yacht Club de Monaco||8||5||4||6||23|