America’s Cup-style foiling catamaran racing will be coming to Sardinia in just two weeks’ time when the GC32 Racing Tour visits Villasimius in the southeast corner of the Italian island.
The GC32 Villasimius Cup will mark the Sardinian debut for the GC32s, which fly around the race course like the America’s Cup catamarans are doing in Bermuda, but are identical one designs and have conventional, easier to handle soft sail rigs rather than wings. Still capable of speeds well above 30 knots, the flying catamarans are campaigned on the GC32 Racing Tour by a mix of professional sailing teams including Olympic medallists and those with owner-drivers.
Of the seven teams competing at the GC32 Villasimius Cup favourite is Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc. Last month in Riva del Garda at the first event of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, Realteam came out on top in an exclusively Swiss podium ahead of Team Tilt, which this week is one of the favourites in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in Bermuda.
For Villasimius it will be the first time a major international yacht racing event has been held in its magnificent waters. As Gianluca Dessi, Mayor of the city of Villasimius, said: ‘In order to promote the unique qualities of our region, sport is a strategic channel. Hosting a stop on the international GC32 Racing Tour is an opportunity to discover the ‘Polynesia of the Mediterranean’ – the wind paradise and all its forms of life, which is our city.’
GC32 Racing Tour competitors are also eager to try racing in this virgin sailing venue. The Realteam skipper says of the conditions he anticipates in Villasimius compared to Lake Garda: “We expect strong winds and bigger waves, being at sea. It will surely be a good technical challenge. We will use our experience training in Barcelona at the beginning of this year with this particular venue.”
According to Clerc, Realteam will continue racing with their new line-up for this season that includes former crew from Team Tilt and Team ENGIE. “In Riva we saw that we could compete among the best. We intend to keep up the pressure and to continue making progress, although the others will progress too.”
Third last month in Riva del Garda, Flavio Marazzi and his ARMIN STROM Sailing Team, complete with Rio 2016 49er bronze medallist Erik Heil on the helm, will be hoping to make progress up the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour championship leaderboard as will France’s Team ENGIE skippered by Sebastien Rogues.
Competition is also expected to be fierce between the three owner-driver teams racing in their own, as well as the overall championship: Jason Carroll’s Team Argo, present leader of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour’s owner-driver championship, and Mamma Aiuto! of Japan’s Naofumi Kamei and the ever improving Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco of Pierre Casiraghi.
However all eyes will be on the new arrival this season on the GC32 Racing Tour – in Spanish sailing star Iker Martinez and his Movistar – Ventana Group team. The Spanish campaign is being supported in its participation at the GC32 Villasimius Cup by Ventana Group, the Turin-based meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions company with whom the GC32 Racing Tour has partnered for a second season in the organisation of its Italian events.
“We are super happy that they are joining the team. Their support will make a difference, allowing us to go to Villasimius and do some training there, because we need more hours,” said Iker Martinez, best known for his two Olympic medals in the 49er skiff class as well as skippering the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race entry Telefónica. “We will try and have a good event as we can to make them happy.”
Movistar – Ventana Group is in Palma this week training with her crew that now includes tactician Juan Ignacio Maegli, who represented Guatemala in the Laser at the last three Olympic Games. He missed the GC32 Riva Cup due to a back operation. “We’re happy to have him on board but when you have a crew change you have to take time to get them all working together well as a team again,” said Martinez.
by GC32 Racing Tour