Marseille – During a perfect second day of sailing on the Roucas Blanc, with the wind ranging between 10 knots and the high teens, the GC32 foiling catamarans, racing at the inaugural Marseille One Design, had a long day, completing seven races.
At the close of play, Armin Strom Sailing Team continues to dominate, holding 14 points, with GDF Suez second on 23 and Team Magic Marine third on 25. However the lead boat, skippered by Swiss former Olympic Star sailor Flavio Marazzi, did not have it all its own way and her three race wins today matched by French Class 40 legend Sebastien Rogues and his crew on board GDF Suez. In fact everyone claimed a race today with Dutch former A-Class World Champion Mischa Heemskerk and his fledgling crew on Team Magic Marine winning today’s opener – an outstanding performance considering today was only the second on the water for both crew and boat.
Once again the boats were sailing a course similar to those used in last year’s 34th America’s Cup, with reaching starts and finishes and windward-leeward legs in between. The starts in particular were every bit as spectacular with the GC32 catamarans launching off the line, straight up on to foils and ‘fizzing’ their way across to the first mark at speeds at times approaching 30 knots.
Flavio Marazzi’s team prevailed demonstrating superior boat handling and suffering less breakage. Particularly noticeable was Armin Strom Sailing Team’s skilful genniker work, always the faster to deploy at the top mark and least out of control while performing foiling gybes.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m being a pain in the arse for the crew, but I try to push hard and not make the same mistakes twice,” explained the Swiss skipper “The concentration is really high and the races are only 12-15 minutes and it is working really well. You can always make improvements in manoeuvres and the stability of the boat for different conditions. Especially downwind it is a challenge to keep the boat flat and fast.”
After breaking a foil during practice racing yesterday, Sebastien Rogues’ GDF Suez returned to the race course today and showed the greatest improvement, claiming today’s final three races.
“Our philosophy today was really to try and improve race after race,” explained tactician, two time America’s Cup skipper, Sebastien Col. “We have a new team and Seb Rogues, who is helming, is not used to multihulls, so we need to go step by step. We focussed only on the simple things, like having good starts, not to take risks and trying to spot the good lines and be conservative at the roundings. That was key – it enabled us to build confidence during the day and win three races.”
Col said that the first reaching legs were both the most tense, but equally the most enjoyable. “With all the boats close together it is quite demanding, because we are quite nervous going 25-28 knots down a reach, flying, never knowing if the boat just in front of you or down to leeward breaks something or loses control… So we tend to be more conservative, but in the future for sure we will push more.” He points out that Marseille One Design is only the second event for the GC32 catamarans since gaining foils making them fully airborne earlier this year. “We have to wait a little bit and be more patient on the sports side an on the technical side also. I’m sure next year will be full on,” concludes Col, who is attempting to get his own GC32 campaign together for 2015.
Technical breakdowns hampered racing from time to time today, and this, as well as tactics and boat handling, caused lead changes in most of today’s races. When Armin Strom Sailing Team suffered a problem with furling her kite, her crew resolved this in around 10 seconds but even this cost them around 200m.
In particular for the brand new Magic Marine GC32 suffered teething issues. Today the Dutch team had among them ‘Mr Multihull’, Loick Peyron, now part of the Artemis Racing Swedish America’s Cup challenge and the man who will race the 102ft trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire VII across the North Atlantic singlehanded in this autumn’s Route du Rhum.
Peyron was sailing here today, mainly because he wanted to, but also because he refers to himself as a ‘test pilot’ for Artemis Racing, who are looking for suitable vessels to help them to America’s Cup victory.
“I really like the GC32s because it is a great size to work on the skills of the crew, for the helmsman, the complete team and it will also be good for younger guys.”
Compared to the AC72s the GC32 has relatively bigger foils. These Peyron says are necessary “because these boats are made to be shown to the public and they need to fly whatever the wind conditions.” While Peyron is used to racing the wing-powered AC45s and AC72s, the soft sails do come with many advantages, notably logistics of mooring the boats at night but also the ability to reduce windage in strong winds, by reefing – impossible with wings.
Tomorrow there is set to see a change of complexion for the GC32s competing at Marseille One Design with sub-10 knot winds forecast. Once again racing will get underway at 11:00 local time.