Erik Maris’ Zoulou scored a perfect scoreline on day three of Marseille One Design, the final event of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour.
In a similar display to that of Franck Cammas’ Norauto here last year, the French team has pulled out a significant lead of 11 points going into the final day of racing tomorrow.
The wind today went from ‘marginal foiling’ to ultra-light, although still sail-able and fair, forcing the crews on the seven GC32s to dig out their playbooks for these conditions. Perhaps the most impressive display of the day came on the windiest part – the last run of the first race. In this, the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour’s overall leader Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc, led Sébastien Rogues’ Team ENGIE at the last top mark rounding. Holding third, Zoulou split to the opposite side of the last run where she found her own private breeze, enough to get her up on foils and soar past her French-speaking rivals to take the bullet.
“We got a little bit lucky on that one,” admitted Zoulou’s Swiss helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis. “We were able to catch up big time.”
In the two following races, it was easier for Zoulou. She led at the top mark and simply extended from there.
After three races the wind dropped off a fraction more and Principal Race Officer Stuart Childerley called time, sending everyone back to the Marina Olympique du Roucas Blanc, recently chosen as the sailing venue for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Of their light air sailing technique, Psarofaghis explained: “The team is sailing really well and the boat is going fast, so it was easier for us. We started in a good spot and we could sail VMG without any trouble. The crew made good manoeuvres and some strong tactical calls and no one was pushing us to make mistakes. We could sail our own race.” But as to the special light wind techniques they employ, he added: “There are many things you can do differently in these conditions, but they are secret!”
Behind the flying French, Realteam and Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! from Japan were the best scoring boats today, both posting a 2, 3, 4. However in final race it was the turn of Australian newcomer Simon Delzoppo and his .film Racing to claim second.
“You have to focus on the breeze,” said Delzoppo. “It is even harder when you get up towards the front to maintain there, because there are guys breathing down you neck all the time.” He put their second place in the final race down to a good start and then…hanging on. “We just sailed smoothly and just tried to hold our position and cover a bit. Everyone was right on our tail at the end, so it wasn’t easy.”
His crew, which includes 2015 GC32 Racing Tour champion Leigh McMillan on tactics, has done a reasonable amount of practice in lighter conditions. He added: “On a day like today, it is important to get off the line well – it is hard to make up ground unless you can get some good wind shifts.”
Meanwhile the other local French hero, Sébastien Rogues on Team ENGIE has his work cut out if he is to achieve his objective of a podium finish on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour. He has not only to beat Mamma Aiuto!, currently six points ahead of him on the Marseille One Design leaderboard, but must have put two boats between Team ENGIE and the Japanese.
But today for Rogues it was about dealing with the light conditions. “Today, 80% of the racing was about getting a good start. Otherwise it was a great day just with 4-5 knots of wind. I was happy to be on the sea and happy to race with my team.”
Racing for the final day tomorrow is also looking light and the intention is to move the first warning signal forward to 1200 CET.
by GC32 Racing