AC45s to be modified; America’s Cup World Series to continue into 2018
The six America’s Cup teams have agreed to a project that will see the existing fleet of AC45 catamarans modified into fully foiling catamarans for racing in the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS).
Importantly, the teams have also committed to continue to race the foiling AC45s on the America’s Cup World Series circuit in 2018, following the conclusion of the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.
“I’m pleased all of the competitors have agreed on a way forward, beyond the current America’s Cup cycle,” said Harvey Schiller, the Commercial Commissioner for the 35th America’s Cup.
“To have the teams give certainty to all stakeholders as to what will happen following the racing in 2017, regardless of who wins, is a huge step forward for all involved.”
The teams have undertaken the project to modify the one-design AC45s into fully foiling catamarans with a view to racing the foiling versions as early as the 2015 ACWS season.
A feasibility study has been commissioned to determine whether the mods will need to wait until the 2016 season as the timeline to make changes to the entire fleet ahead of racing in 2015 is extremely tight.
The competitors have also appointed a working group to select a Regatta Director, as required by the Protocol.
Foiling kiteboard takes on the foiling GC32s at Marseille One Design yesterday on the first reaching leg of one of the races. The kiteboarder doesn’t do quite as well against the cats as it appears here
All in all, it was a week that neither Flavio Marazzi or his Armin Strom Sailing Team will forget in a hurry as their catamaran sponsored by the famous Swiss watch-maker dominated and won the Marseille One Design event. Dedicated to the up-and-coming carbon multis upgraded this year with L-Foils and T-Rudders, the regatta saw the Swiss team finally reaping the benefits of a season of extremely intense, mainly lake-based training that has now successfully made the transition to the sea.
It was a very intense week that not only delivered volatile conditions but also plenty of racing, fun and spectacle. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, one of the boats entered could not compete. This left just three teams competing, each a force to be reckoned with. Aside from ASST, there were two new entries, in fact: GDF Suez (the power group chose two-times America’s Cupper Sebastien Col as skipper) and Magic Marine (skippered by Dutch yachtsman Mischa Heemskerk). The other ‘veteran’ team, SPAX Solutions, however, had to remain ashore.
A total of 17 races were held over four days – four every day except for day three when five took place. While Magic Marine never quite got into the competition because of fairly predictable teething problems with their boat, Col and his crew quickly settled in with their GC32, delivering performances almost on a par with Armin Strom. Nonetheless, Marazzi and his crew ultimately dominated the finish-lines, particularly towards the end when the races counted most. In fact, the Swiss team’s maturity eventually saw them pull away from their nearest rival by a whole eight points.
‘The conditions were very varied, interesting and real over the four days,’ explained the Bernese skipper. ‘Two days with a Mistral of up to 18 knots, then two much lighter days with a shiftier sea breeze. It was a very satisfying week and certainly exhilarating to win the first GC32 regatta. We can’t wait to do it again next year with many more boats in the mix and regattas on the calendar. We are delighted to see the class growing and we hope the plan for at least eight teams and five regattas in Europe comes to fruition. Upwards of that would be even better!’
‘This week we really excelled at the starts. We learned a lot too and we saw that we have to improve on certain aspects of our teamwork. But we are still very pleased we were so tight and quick to realise we had to win as many races as possible.’
Sea trials of “Solent Whisper” the 5.9m sailing catamaran with a cutting-edge hydrofoil system, the brainchild of Ron Price, a Solent yacht and powercraft design graduate who is now Senior Lecturer in Naval Architecture at the University’s Warsash Maritime Academy.
On Friday 12 September Southampton at the PSP Southampton Boat Show Solent graduate Geoff Holt, the first quadriplegic sailor to sail solo across the Atlantic, will be unveiling this exciting technological development – an innovation which could change the face of small boat inshore racing.
After Luna Rossa Piranha, who has been sailing since July 1st, today Luna Rossa Swordfish – the second AC45 with which the team is developing its design and training for the 35th America’s Cup – also started sailing again in Cagliari.
The Protocol of the 35th America’s Cup in fact allows the modification of any component of the AC45 catamarans – used in past editions of the America’s Cup World Series – except for the shape of the hulls.
During this first phase the modifications focused essentially on the optimization of the appendages – daggerboards and rudders – and on-board systems that allow the AC45 catamarans to fully foil. These ‘new’ catamarans are capable of greatly increased performances and can simulate the sailing conditions of the AC62 catamarans (‘full foiling’ with a 30-meter wing) that will be used in the 35th America’s Cup.
Luna Rossa Piranha and Luna Rossa Swordfish have thus become real test laboratories for components, systems, data collection and analysis, as well as the ideal platforms to train the crew in manoeuvers, boat handling and foiling tactics and techniques.
Max Sirena, skipper of Luna Rossa, said: ‘This is an important day for the team: sailing with two boats offers a significant advantage not only for performance comparison but from all points of view. We participated in the last America’s Cup to set the basis for our 35th America’s Cup and now we can count on a solid team and a close collaboration between designers, sailing team and shore team. There is a constant exchange of information between these areas to address the design and optimize its applications.’
Training on the water with the two AC45s began this morning with a northwest wind ranging from 7 to 12 knots that allowed both boats to sail immediately in a full-foiling configuration.
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.
During a perfect second day of sailing on the Roucas Blanc, with the wind ranging between 10 knots and the high teens, the GC32 foiling catamarans, racing at the inaugural Marseille One Design, had a long day, completing seven races.
Once again the boats were sailing a course similar to those used in last year’s 34th America’s Cup, with reaching starts and finishes and windward-leeward legs in between. The starts in particular were every bit as spectacular with the GC32 catamarans launching off the line, straight up on to foils and ‘fizzing’ their way across to the first mark at speeds at times approaching 30 knots.
Flavio Marazzi’s team prevailed demonstrating superior boat handling and suffering less breakage. Particularly noticeable was Armin Strom Sailing Team’s skilful genniker work, always the faster to deploy at the top mark and least out of control while performing foiling gybes.
‘Sometimes I feel like I’m being a pain in the arse for the crew, but I try to push hard and not make the same mistakes twice,’ explained the Swiss skipper. ‘The concentration is really high and the races are only 12-15 minutes and it is working really well. You can always make improvements in manoeuvres and the stability of the boat for different conditions. Especially downwind it is a challenge to keep the boat flat and fast.’
After breaking a foil during practice racing yesterday, Sebastien Rogues’ GDF Suez returned to the race course today and showed the greatest improvement, claiming today’s final three races.
‘Our philosophy today was really to try and improve race after race,’ explained tactician, two time America’s Cup skipper, Sebastien Col. ‘We have a new team and Seb Rogues, who is helming, is not used to multihulls, so we need to go step by step. We focussed only on the simple things, like having good starts, not to take risks and trying to spot the good lines and be conservative at the roundings. That was key – it enabled us to build confidence during the day and win three races.’
Col said that the first reaching legs were both the most tense, but equally the most enjoyable. ‘With all the boats close together it is quite demanding, because we are quite nervous going 25-28 knots down a reach, flying, never knowing if the boat just in front of you or down to leeward breaks something or loses control… So we tend to be more conservative, but in the future for sure we will push more.’ He points out that Marseille One Design is only the second event for the GC32 catamarans since gaining foils making them fully airborne earlier this year. ‘We have to wait a little bit and be more patient on the sports side an on the technical side also. I’m sure next year will be full on,’ concludes Col, who is attempting to get his own GC32 campaign together for 2015.
Technical breakdowns hampered racing from time to time today, and this, as well as tactics and boat handling, caused lead changes in most of today’s races. When Armin Strom Sailing Team suffered a problem with furling her kite, her crew resolved this in around 10 seconds but even this cost them around 200m.
In particular for the brand new Magic Marine GC32 suffered teething issues. Today the Dutch team had among them ‘Mr Multihull’, Loick Peyron, now part of the Artemis Racing Swedish America’s Cup challenge and the man who will race the 102ft trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire VII across the North Atlantic singlehanded in this autumn’s Route du Rhum.
Peyron was sailing here today, mainly because he wanted to, but also because he refers to himself as a ‘test pilot’ for Artemis Racing, who are looking for suitable vessels to help them to America’s Cup victory.
‘I really like the GC32s because it is a great size to work on the skills of the crew, for the helmsman, the complete team and it will also be good for younger guys.’
Compared to the AC72s the GC32 has relatively bigger foils. These Peyron says are necessary ‘because these boats are made to be shown to the public and they need to fly whatever the wind conditions.’ While Peyron is used to racing the wing-powered AC45s and AC72s, the soft sails do come with many advantages, notably logistics of mooring the boats at night but also the ability to reduce windage in strong winds, by reefing – impossible with wings.
Tomorrow there is set to see a change of complexion for the GC32s competing at Marseille One Design with sub-10 knot winds forecast. Once again racing will get underway at 11:00 local time.
Nacra F20 FCS trainingday, Two boats lining up to become better and to go faster. each time on the water we all learn something new, Amazing product and quite spectaculair to be sailing over 28 knots. #empoweringsailors
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