2022 GC32 Racing Tour. Alinghi Red Bull Racing demolishes GC32 Riva Cup competition

Technically helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis and his crew on Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 8 won the GC32 Riva Cup with two races spare. In reality, given the 24-point advantage they had earned prior to today, the GC32 Racing Tour’s defending champions could have stayed in bed today and still won by five points. Of the 16 races they sailed since Thursday they won half. They finished off the podium just once. They were a class apart. 

It feels great,” said a beaming Psarofaghis. “It is the first win for our new team, Alinghi Red Bull Racing.  It is great to have done this. It was a super regatta: The fleet is stronger this year; every race was hard to fight for.

The Swiss team seemed to go the right way, were fast and never broke. One theory is that now they are challenging for America’s Cup they are elevating their game still further. Even in today’s first race when they were OCS they still recovered to second. “We’ve worked really hard on all the factors – the boat, strategy and the speed,” continued Psarofaghis. “This week we showed that one more time, but we still need to get better, because we are making a lot of mistakes, only less than our competitors…

A consolation for the rest of the GC32 Racing Tour teams is that the same happened last season and by the second event the field had closed up again.

Today’s conditions were unusual. Following overnight rainstorms, Lake Garda was overcast and threatening but this caused the northerly Pèler to remain blowing, at 10 knots when racing got underway at midday, then building into the high teens by close of play. The Swiss team’s tactician Nicolas Charbonnier described it: “It was really nice, shifting a lot and gusty, so there were more options for the tacticians. I just tried to get into a good line of pressure. It was not ‘normal Garda’ so you forgot that and just kept your eyes open.” At times today the cliff on the west side of the course was strong but the middle and opposite side too.

Today each of the five races had a different winner, excluding GC32 Class Association President Simon Delzoppo’s .film AUS Racing, new returnees to the GC32 Racing Tour after a three season absence and the Swiss America’s Cup team’s second team on Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 15 led by Maxime Bachelin. Nonetheless today .film led for much of one race, while, after their team mates, SUI 15 was the most consistent never scoring worse than a fifth.

Team Rockwool Racing won the first race only to be let down by breakage. “We had a pretty good first event of the season,” summarised skipper Nicolai Sehested. “But we had a lot of boat issues. Today we destroyed our Cunningham which is inside the rig so you can’t actually fix it. We sail pretty well and we are happy with coming second in our first GC32 event this year.”

Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team bookmarked the GC32 Riva Cup winning its first race on Thursday and the last today. Like everyone apart from Alinghi they have lacked consistency this week, said their top Italian crewman and America’s Cup sailor Pier Luigi de Felice. “We had a hard week. We had a capsize on the first day after we had won the first race. We felt pretty strong and where we wanted to be coming into this event, with our preparation. But we’re not where we want to be, although we still ended up third. We had a lot of ups and downs – lost a lot of points on the race course, but we need to keep working over the rest of the season.”

De Felice added of the venue: “Lake Garda is beautiful. I have been sailing here since I was a kid and love coming back. The lake is so good for foiling boats. I hope we come back next year.”

While Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 8 dominated the GC32 Riva Cup, the competition was much closer in the event’s Owner-Driver Championship. Erik Maris’ Zoulou led the event overall at the end of day one, but it went to the wire today when Jason Carroll’s Argo won today’s third race taking the lead by a point. Sadly for the US team, Zoulou won the next race as they scored a deep result, handing the trophy to Maris.

It was a busy day after a good few days ‘in the office’,” said Maris, happy to be back on aboard foiling catamaran he began campaigning in 2014. “Everyone is at the top of their form. Alinghi is almost in a class of their own, but then there were four boats neck and neck from Black Star to Argo. It was fantastic racing. The fleet is very tight and when you make a mistake you go from hero to zero very quickly.

Maris added “we should be thankful that for the two other owner-drivers who come from America and Australia to race with us.

The GC32 Racing Tour now moves on to the first of two events in Lagos, Portugal, the first over 22-26 June followed by the GC32 World Championship over 13-17 July. 

25 May 2022

2022 GC32 Racing Tour sets sail tomorrow in Italy

gc32 Racing Tour
Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

With great anticipation the ninth season of the GC32 Racing Tour sets sail tomorrow (Thursday 26th May) with the GC32 Riva Cup. This will be the first of five events in 2022 spanning southern Europe for the foiling one-design catamaran fleet created by Dr Martin Fischer, now Chief Designer with the INEOS Britannia America’s Cup challenger. 

Surrounded by towering Italian Alps at the northern end of Lake Garda, Riva del Garda is a favorite venue with the GC32 teams and world-renowned for its flat water and strong winds, ideal for high-speed foiling catamaran racing. The GC32 Racing Tour is being hosted here as usual by the Fraglia Vela Riva, the event itself supported by the Trentino province, Comune di Riva del Garda, and Cantina Toblino. 

As ever, an enticing feature of the GC32 Racing Tour is the make-up of its fleet. Here in Riva, there are four privately-owned teams – Simon Delzoppo’s .film AUS Racing, Jason Carroll’s Argo from the USA, Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team from Switzerland, and, from France, Erik Maris’ Zoulou. But in addition two represent an America’s Cup team and one a team from SailGP (more from this circuit will be announced soon). Being able to race against such teams represents a unique opportunity for owner-drivers on the GC32 Racing Tour. 

Returning for their second season on the GC32 Racing Tour is Team Rockwool Racing from Denmark, skippered by 32-year-old match racer turned round the world sailor Nicolai Sehested. While participating on SailGP is the team’s priority, the GC32 Racing Tour provides not just valuable training to keep Sehested and his crew race fit, but also a valuable corporate entertainment platform. This week around 150 corporate guests of the Danish manufacturer of mineral wool products, from Italy, Croatia, Germany and Denmark will be present at the GC32 Riva Cup, with many getting to go out sailing on the flying catamarans and to meet ‘their’ crew. 

Until this week Team Rockwool Racing hadn’t sailed their GC32 since the last event of 2021 in Spain’s Mar Menor, but during training this week they have rediscovered the boat. “We won’t be as sharp for the first few days, but it will come back,” admits Sedested, whose crew remains similar to last season but rotating grinders. New on board is powerful Swede Julius Hallström, part of last year’s Red Bull Sailing Team’s GC32 World Championship-winning crew. 

While this is the first time Team Rockwool Racing has competed on Lake Garda, Sehested is no stranger to it having raced dinghies and then keelboats here extensively during his youth. As to this year’s competition, he feels that the main contenders will be the Alinghi Red Bull Racing teams and Black Star Sailing Team, which was heavily on the ascent in 2021. “They will be very strong – it is a hard fleet,” Sehested warns. 

As previously reported, the Alinghi Red Bull Racing challenger for the 37th America’s Cup is fielding two GC32 teams. Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 8 will have its usual skipper in Arnaud Psarofaghis while Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 15 will be helmed by Maxime Bachelin, fresh from a 49er Olympic campaign. 

The reason for the Swiss challenger’s second GC32 Racing Tour team is partly an exercise in training up young Swiss crew but also as an assessment platform, to source talent for their America’s Cup crew. Personally Bachelin, 24, is a highly experienced foiling sailor having raced on Moths, the 69F skiff and on the GC32’s little brother, the two person Flying Phantom foiling catamaran.

Nonetheless, the GC32 is a big step up, having trained on it for just two weeks. Tomorrow will be his first race in anger and while he too is familiar with Lake Garda, this will be his first ever race skippering a crew of five. “I would say we are quite confident – the old crew of the other boat have been helping us and giving us some knowledge and advice about the GC32 so we learn quite fast,” Bachelin says. “But we have never sailed against other boats on the fleet, so we don’t know yet how it will be.

“For me, it is a bit weird because I’ve always followed the GC32 Racing Tour over the past years and now it is me on the helm of one of the Alinghi Red Bull Racing boats! It is very exciting to start this regatta on beautiful Lake Garda. Hopefully it will be windy – perfect conditions for the GC32…”

Racing is scheduled to start at 1300 CEST tomorrow but given that Lake Garda produces its best wind early in the morning and late afternoon, PRO Stuart Childerley may adapt the schedule in order to make the best of conditions.

19 May 2022

Owner-driver championship strengthens for 2022 GC32 Racing Tour

A key attraction of the flying GC32 catamaran is that it provides individuals with a way to experience the latest state of the art foil-borne yachting. Typically private owners join the GC32 Racing Tour having been successful in other catamarans circuits like the Extreme Sailing Series or in high performance dinghy catamarans but also from one design keelboats such as the Melges 32 and Farr 30. It is for this reason that the GC32 Racing Tour several years ago introduced its own Owner-Driver Championship, compete with prizes at each event and for the season. With one week to go from the GC32 Riva Cup, opening event of the 2022 GC32 Racing Tour, this Championship is being revitalised this season following a break due to the pandemic.

Overdue in his return to the GC32 Racing Tour has been GC32 International Class Association President Simon Delzoppo who competed in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, ending on a high with a third place finish, including a race win at the final event in Toulon. His .film Racing also finished third in the Owner-Driver championship that year.

On board .film AUS Racing with Delzoppo this season will be two who sailed previously with the Australian team – Ed Powys (mainsheet/tactics) and reigning GC32 World Champion Rhys Mara (trim). Joining his team for the first time will be the otherwise familiar figures of America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailor Guy Endean (float) and the Kiwi SailGP team’s James Wierzbowski (bow).

I’m really happy to have such an awesome team this season and to be representing Australia with a good bunch of Aussies!” jokes Delzoppo (technically Endean is a Kiwi and Powys is a Brit with a Australian passport), adding on a more serious note: “We will be putting in a fair bit of training and hopefully will get up to speed pretty quick after a few years away from the GC32 Racing Tour. We plan on competing in all five events, so the Owner-Driver Championship will be our first goal, along with giving the pro teams some good competition.

Ahead of .film Racing on the Owner-Driver Championship leaderboard in 2018 were Jason Carroll’s Argo and Erik Maris’ Zoulou. Both are returning this season. Carroll has some additional big guns on board in Match Racing World Champion Taylor Canfield and America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailor Luke Parkinson. He is looking forward to their first GC32 outing this year: “Riva is our home away from home and our favourite place to race the GC32. We’re excited to take on the challenge and to sail again with our old friends on the circuit.

Similarly on Erik Maris’ Zoulou, the French team have engaged the services of the French SailGP team’s Timothé Lapauw, who significantly has also previously been a regular crew on the GC32 Racing Tour with 2021 defend champions Alinghi and hopefully will bring with him some winning knowledge and approach.

Obviously, we very much look forward to this new season, which promises to be exciting with a great mix of old and new teams,” says Maris. “I look forward to racing against the other owner-drivers even though the beauty of this class is the mix of fantastic professionals and amateurs.

A privately owned team, but where the owner sails on board trimming mainsheet is Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team that this year will embark on its third season on the GC32 Racing Tour. The Swiss team finished 2021 in third place but disappointingly lost their podium position in the very last race of the GC32 World Championship in Villasimius by a single point to Team Tilt. 

We made a lot of progress last season and we reached our goal of being on the podium overall and at events and I am happy that we are staying as the same team together for the 2022 season,” says Zuerrer. “We had a good training week with the other teams in Lagos in early March so it will definitely be different to other years when we just jumped in. Now we trust each other and know each other more.

I am happy to have new and old teams coming back after the pandemic. It is still great fun and I enjoy the close racing.” 

The 2022 GC32 Racing Tour will set sail on Lake Garda with the GC32 Riva Cup over 25-29th June. 

2022 GC32 Racing Tour

25 – 29 May: Riva del Garda (ITA)
22 – 26 June: Lagos (POR) 
13-17 July: Lagos World Championship (POR) 
14-18 September: Villasimius (ITA)
19-23 October: Mar Menor (ESP)

24 January 2022

The new GC32 Racing Tour season returns to Lagos in 2022

After considerable effort went into laying on a successful series in 2021 despite the pandemic, the new GC32 Racing Tour season will see the show fully back on the road, normal service resumed. The five venues for 2022, the GC32 Racing Tour’s ninth season, will include several of the best in Europe for foiling catamaran competition, including a must-attend World Championship.

Photo: Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

The GC32 Racing Tour remains the sole racing circuit for competition between the GC32 foiling catamarans, designed by Dr. Martin Fischer, now Chief Designer for the British INEOS Britannia America’s Cup Challenger. With strong competition between pro teams, including several also competing in SailGP, and private owner-drivers, who have their own ranking and prizes, the circuit represents the most cost-effective way into foil-born yachting. The five-man GC32 is also the most accessible way, being a one design, fitted with ‘standard’ soft sail rig and no complex hydraulics while still being capable of blistering speeds approaching 40 knots. 

After the last two events were disappointingly canceled there, it is with great anticipation that the GC32 teams return to one of their favorite venues: Riva del Garda, renowned for its flat water, big winds, and its dramatic backdrop with the Dolomite mountains encircling it on three sides. On one side of the race track is a giant sheer cliff, the location of the famous car chase that opens the James Bond film Quantum of Solace. 

The GC32 Racing Tour has scheduled visits to Lake Garda annually since 2016. Italy’s most famous lake for racing sailors has since become the foundation of the GC32 Racing Tour, annually holding its opening event there. This position was galvanized when the town in Trentino, at the very northernmost tip of Lake Garda, was chosen as the venue for the first GC32 World Championship in 2018. 

From Italy, the GC32 Racing Tour migrates to Portugal’s Algarve, where it has a similarly long, fruitful relationship with the town of Lagos. From an Italian lake, the flying catamarans transfer to the Atlantic Ocean, albeit protected from the waves by Cape St Vincent, the southwesternmost tip of Europe just 10km away. This permits strong sea breeze conditions but flat water – perfect for foiling.

The final two events on the 2022 GC32 Racing Tour will take place over 14-18 September and 19-23 October in venues to be announced shortly

It was in Lagos in June last year that the flying catamaran circuit resumed after 18 months of events cancelled due to the pandemic. To minimize travel, two consecutive events were held there, a formula welcomed by the teams and the local Portuguese hosts, so this will be repeated again in 2022 with the generous support from the City of Lagos, Marina de Lagos, and Sopromar, and other supporting partners. 

The second event of the 2022 GC32 Racing Tour will take place in Lagos over 22-26th June, followed by the third over 13-17th July. This latter is significant as it will be the fourth edition of the GC32 World Championship after the GC32 was officially recognized by World Sailing in 2017. The GC32 remains the only foiling catamaran ‘yacht’ officially permitted to hold World Championships. 

The final two events on the 2022 GC32 Racing Tour will take place over 14-18 September and 19-23 October in venues to be announced shortly. 

Christian Scherrer, manager of the GC32 Racing Tour commented: “I’m very much looking forward to getting back to a full five-event GC32 Racing Tour season. To kick off the circuit again back on Lake Garda with our classic GC32 Riva Cup season opener is a great start. Another GC32 top spot follows in June in Lagos Portugal with first the GC32 Lagos Cup and then the GC32 World Championship. We are grateful for the local support and looking forward to exciting World Championship with a strong fleet of 10+ GC32s.

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