GC32 GDF Suez unstoppable in the light
The Mediterranean took on a different complexion for day three of GC32 foiling catamaran racing at Marseille One Design with the wind dropping below 10 knots for the first time this regatta.
Three races were held this morning with the wind hovering around five knots at sea level. Thankfully there was more aloft allowing the three GC32 catamarans to fly their hulls, but not to foil. Despite having to drag their large foils through the water, the GC32s still proved remarkably slippery in conditions where other boats would have simply parked.
For offshore sailor Sebastien Rogues and his GDF Suez crew, the change in conditions seemed to make little impression. Following his team winning yesterday’s last three races, his energy company-sponsored catamaran was able to claim the first four races held today, with Flavio Marazzi’s Armin Strom Sailing Team coming second in each with Magic Marine third.
‘I think we learned a lot about the boat yesterday and perhaps with less wind it was easier for us,’ admitted Rogues, known in sailing circles for being the skipper to beat offshore in the Class40. However this is his first regatta in the foiling GC32. He continued: ‘The crew was just perfect and everyone is very good at their job – except me at the helm! Today we had a good feeling.’
Perhaps it also helped in today’s light winds, that while the GC32 is a one design, teams are currently allowed different sails and of the three GC32s competing at Marseille One Design, GDF Suez’s gennaker is substantially larger than that on Armin Strom Sailing Team.
This morning Armin Strom struggled with her smaller gennaker – 2014 Marseille One Design, Day 3 – Sander van der Borch/The Great Cup
Following today’s opening three races, there was a break for lunch with all three GC32s returning to the Roucas Blanc marina. With the wind remaining very light in the afternoon there seemed to be little impetus to return to the race course and when the crews did it was to endure a two hour wait for another regatta to conclude its racing. However this proved worthwhile for just before the race committee got into their starting sequence, out of a nowhere a new westerly breeze suddenly filled in. Unfortunately the first attempt to race had to be cancelled when there was a problem with the mark laying.
With the breeze back up to 15 knots, so was each crews’ adrenalin with the GC32s speeding down the first reaching legs at speeds into the high 20s.
With the hour getting late, two races were held in the new breeze. In these GDF Suez continued her winning ways, but in the second Armin Strom Sailing Team chose to head offshore on the beat and was able to overhaul Rogues’ dominating team and ultimately break his winning streak.
‘The wind dropped on the second leg and we found it difficult to find speed,’ admitted Rogues. ‘We went right where the wind was weak. We made a small error – we didn’t match their [Armin Strom’s] tack – but it is easy to say that afterwards.’
GDF Suez – 2014 Marseille One Design, Day 3 – Sander van der Borch/The Great Cup
Despite GDF Suez’s dominance today, Flavio Marazzi’s Armin Strom Sailing Team continues to lead the GC32 class racing at Marseille One Design. As to why he was consistently losing to GDF Suez today, Marazzi admitted: ‘It’s hard to say, but a lot of it came down to the starts: If you managed to have a good start it is easy to stay in front with these boats. Our starts were okay, but maybe a little bit of our fighting spirit was missing today.’
Marazzi was pleased that he had started to turn their fortunes around this afternoon and goes into the final day of racing tomorrow leading the Marseille One Design on 23 points to second placed GDF Suez’s 29. ‘That is what is fun in this class: with one designs and the same level of competition, you get very tight finishes.’
Magic Marine didn’t enjoy the conditions today. The team’s British mainsheet trimmer and tactician Rich Mason put this down to being a brand new team racing on a brand new boat. ‘Boat handling is difficult for us. We are slowly getting there, but in the light stuff it is so critical to get the boat up and moving and having all the sheets in the right place. The team work will eventually get there, but the other guys have had loads more hours than us. We are catching up, it is closer now, but it is tricky.’
Mason, runner up at last year’s F18 World Championship and best known for being chosen as one of this season’s elite Artemis Offshore Academy sailors in the UK, says he absolutely loves the GC32. ‘It is incredible. They are so stable – you get flying, you do 30 knots and you are just doing your job and the racing is so right – you forget how amazing they are.’
Armin Strom Sailing Team hauling the mail – 2014 Marseille One Design, Day 3 – Sander van der Borch/The Great Cup
2014 Marseille One Design, Day 3 – Sander van der Borch/The Great Cup
The final day of racing commences tomorrow at 11:00.
by The Great Cup