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Armin Strom Sailing Team on a charge in Riva del Garda last year – GC32 Racing Tour © Loris von Siebenthal /www.lorisvonsiebenthal.com
Armin Strom Sailing Team on a charge in Riva del Garda last year – GC32 Racing Tour © Loris von Siebenthal /www.lorisvonsiebenthal.com

GC32 Racing Tour

Engines already revving in anticipation of GC32 Racing Tour

Engines are already revving in anticipation of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, which starts on 11th-14th May with the GC32 Riva Cup.

For its fourth season, the GC32 Racing Tour will once again be visiting top venues in Italy, Spain and France with the aim of offering competitors ‘the best foiling experience’ with solid winds and flat water. The venues also offer the most stunning scenery, making them ideal for inviting guests be they sponsors, friends or family, who can experience the GC32 social scene, while the select few may get to ride on board as a guest.

For the second consecutive season, the GC32 Racing Tour will open in Riva del Garda, again hosted by the Fraglia Vela Riva. With flat water and strong winds, plus the lake’s breath-taking setting, surrounded by the towering Italian Alps, Lake Garda is considered a sailing mecca.

Once again more than 10 teams will compete this season on the circuit for the ultra-fast one design flying catamarans. These international teams will come from three continents, with sailors represented from four. They include a mix of professional and owner-driver teams, including several gearing up for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. All wish to experience the 30+ knot speeds available from foiling catamarans; boats that are the present state of the art in competitive yachting, related to, but simpler and more practical than those used in the America’s Cup, and a fraction of the cost.

Full GC32 Racing Tour fleet competing in Riva in 2016 © Loris von Siebenthal /www.lorisvonsiebenthal.com

Full GC32 Racing Tour fleet competing in Riva in 2016 © Loris von Siebenthal /www.lorisvonsiebenthal.com

Among the ‘pros’ returning to try to improve their position on the leaderboard, is the longest serving of the GC32 teams – ARMIN STROM Sailing Team of Flavio Marazzi, President of the GC32 International Class Association. Third overall in 2016, the Swiss four time Olympic Star sailor is gunning for the top step of the podium and believes the key is his crew: “We’ve been looking for sailors who have already been to the Olympics at least once and are at a high enough level.”

Marazzi has been recruiting from the high performance 49er class, whose sailors already feature prominently in America’s Cup teams such as double Olympic medallists Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling and Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge. Joining ARMIN STROM Sailing Team is German Erik Heil who claimed bronze at Rio 2016. Also on board are Alain Sign and Iago Lopez Marra, leading 49er sailors respectively from Britain and Spain.

Marazzi explains: “There’s a lot of pressure and you need people who are used to the speed and the tactics required to sail fast boats – how you look ahead, do the starts, etc.”

As Class President, Marazzi is pleased the GC32 Racing Tour continues to grow both in terms of its fleet size and competitiveness. “Everyone recognises you have to practice more, so the level will definitely be higher this year.”

Also returning is another Swiss team in Esteban Garcia’s Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc. Clerc said: “Competing at an international level with the best sailing teams has been a campaign objective from the outset. The GC32 Racing Tour is unique for its one design boats being at the cutting edge, but it also features spectacular venues, such as Lake Garda and Palma, and brings great excitement to crowds and sailors alike.”

Realteam finished ninth overall in 2016, which Clerc acknowledges was due to their lack of time in the GC32. This time they have trained more – one or two weeks every month since January. The team also competes in Switzerland on D35 and Flying Phantom catamarans.

Among their crew, Loic Forestier, Cédric Schmidt and Rémi Aeschimann remain, but joining their squad are three from Team Tilt – Lucien Cujean, Bryan Mettraux and Arthur Cevey, plus Christophe Carbonnières, previously with Team ENGIE.

Frenchman Sébastien Rogues and his Team ENGIE have also been putting in the hours on the water, the pay-off from which they demonstrated by regularly podiuming in races at March’s GC32 Championship in Oman. Rogues says their 2017 objective on the GC32 Racing Tour is to win more races and finish on the podium. “In Oman we reached a new level and I think it is possible to win the Tour. With ENGIE, our objective in year one was to discover the flying boats, in year two it was learning about them and year three, this year, it is to be competitive.”

Flavio Marazzi's Armin Strom Sailing Team is the oldest GC32 campaign – GC32 Racing Tour © Loris von Siebenthal /www.lorisvonsiebenthal.com

Flavio Marazzi’s Armin Strom Sailing Team is the oldest GC32 campaign – GC32 Racing Tour © Loris von Siebenthal /www.lorisvonsiebenthal.com

Team ENGIE’s crew remains the same as it did for the end of the 2016, mostly comprising young talented sailors from the F18 and Flying Phantom catamaran classes, such as tactician Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot, who joined Team ENGIE from Spindrift racing.

Rogues is especially looking forward to having two French events on the 2017 circuit in Marseille and Calvi. In the meantime he can’t wait for Riva. “It is just amazing – the perfect spot for sailing. It is good for GC32s, for windsurfing, for kitesurfing, it good for everything. So I think we will take it all…”

Watch out for further announcements about the other teams competing this year on the GC32 Racing Tour including new additions from Spain and Argentina.

2017 GC32 Racing Tour
1) 11-14 May – GC32 Riva Cup / Riva del Garda, Italy
2) 28 June-1 July – GC32 Villasimius Cup / Villasimius, Sardinia, Italy
3) 2-5 August – 36 Copa del Rey / Palma de Mallorca, Spain
4) 13-16 September – GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, Calvi, Corsica
5) 12-15 October – Marseille One Design / Marseille, France

by GC32 Racing

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