Heading the leaderboard from the start and quickly finding a ‘turbo’ foiling mode saw Armin Strom Sailing Team remain in contention for the top of the podium throughout the 35 Copa del Rey Mapfre this week.
This strong start meant a mixed final day was not too damaging, with the team securing a second place in the regatta, a result which lifted Armin Strom Sailing Team back into third overall in the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour standings.
It was a hard fight to stay in the leading group during a testing week off Palma de Mallorca as strong winds and confused sea states threw challenging conditions at the 10-strong fleet. Just two ‘full’ days racing could be completed.
A huge effort from race organisers to get six races away on the fourth and final day was prompted by a prematurely curtailed second day, when the sea-state was deemed too dangerous, and the loss of racing altogether on the third day due to a strong gale creating gusts of up to 30 knots in the racing area.
Despite ultimately losing its share of the regatta lead to the French team Norauto on the final day, Armin Strom Sailing Team fought hard to remain in contention and in doing so held off the challenge of a fast improving Team Tilt. Just one point separated second and third place on the final scoreboard.
“To sum up our last day, we started really well, had a bit of a shocker in the middle, and came good in the end. We’re absolutely thrilled with the final result. As a new crew combination, sailing together for the first time and up against some extremely strong teams we’re incredibly proud of finishing in second,” said Kiwi helmsman Phil Robertson, rotated into the squad as cover for usual helm Flavio Marazzi, and fresh from winning the World Match Racing Tour Finals.
While the uncharacteristic weather patterns for this time of year in Palma meant the steep waves were significant challenge for all crews in the early part of the regatta, Phil advised it was critical to be adept at finding just the right mode to handle the full range of conditions which included building sea breezes in the afternoon.
“We certainly found a turbo mode with the foils. At times this worked against us as we came crashing down when we lost lift between waves, but at other times was a real boost. Maintaining stability in the big seas was the hardest part. Doing so was down largely to precise crew work, a massive physical effort, and managing the waves when sailing at high speed. There’s so much going on, and you have to stay on top of everything,” Phil reflected.
As a first-time GC32 helmsman, Phil accepted it was a big week of development for him and the crew: “Those first few days training prior to the event really helped. Getting the GC32 foiling is actually quite straight-forward as the boats are so well set-up. The real challenge comes in hitting those top speeds and keeping in tune with the tweaks and reactions once you’re on the foils.”
Mainsheet trimmer and the only woman on the GC32 circuit Sharon Ferris-Choat, another New Zealander, gave credit to the race organisers for their decisions throughout the event, especially on the third day when the wind was gusting across the whole racing area: “Whilst we did lose time on the water, we could not have gone out in the conditions presented. We were sitting in first equal at the time, so for us there was more to lose than to gain.”
Also extremely happy with second place overall, Sharon is clear that there is still much to learn and implement ahead the coming events: “This result is fantastic for us and proves we are capable of cracking the top three. It is a real confidence boost and is reward for all the hard work we are putting in to make ourselves better sailors and all the time we spend before and after racing to prepare the boat. We work long days, and this is the confirmation it is worthwhile. We have every intention to continue, to carry this momentum and reach for the next level.”
With the next event on the tour moving to Spain’s Andalucian coast, the GC32 Sotogrande Cup will provide yet another challenge for the increasingly popular tour.
Skipper Flavio Marazzi will be back on board for the event which runs from 22-25 September. Naturally, Flavio is delighted with the final result at Palma which puts them in good stead for the second half of the Racing Tour: “I’m really happy with how the team has sailed this week. They’ve proven once again that the top three is an achievable goal. We have also proven the strength and adaptability of the Armin Strom Sailing Team squad. It will be a matter of putting together all the lessons learnt so far on the Racing Tour, keeping up the good work and maintaining our momentum running into the Sotogrande event.”
The Sotogrande Cup will mark the fourth event on the GC32 Racing Tour.
Final results – 35Copa del Rey Mapfre
Pos Team R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 R11 R12 Tot
1 Norauto 5 2 5 1 1 3 7 2 1 1 2 3 33
2 Armin Strom Sailing Team 1 3 3 2 4 4 2 3 6 2 3 7 40
3 Team Tilt 6 1 2 10 DSQ/11 1 1 1 2 4 1 1 41
4 Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco 3 7 7 3 2 2 8 5 5 3 4 4 53
5 Argo 4 8 14 6 5 3 9 4 5 6 2 57
6 Mamma Aiuto! 2 4 8 8 8 9 4 6 3 9 5 RET/13 79
7 Realteam 9 6 6 5 3 8 5 7 8 6 7 10 80
8 Team ENGIE 7 5 10 9 9 7 6 10 7 10 8 6 94
9 Gunvor Sailing 10 10 4 7 5 10 9 4 9 7 10 9 94
10 Orange Racing 8 9 9 6 7 6 10 8 10 8 9 5 95
Overall standings after three events on the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour
Pos Team Riva Cup Malcesine Cup Copa del Rey Mapfre Total
1 Norauto 1 2 1 4
2 Team Tilt 2 1 3 6
3 Armin Strom Sailing Team 3 6 2 11
4 Argo 7 4 5 16
5 Gunvor Sailing 4 3 9 16
6 Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco 8 5 4 17
7 Team ENGIE 5 8 8 21
8 Mamma Aiuto! 10 7 6 23
9 Realteam 10 9 7 26
10 Spindrift racing 6 11 11 28
11 Orange Racing 9 10 10 29
by Quinag Communication