Tag Archives: Marseille One Design

Bullit GC32 Marseille Pre Event

from Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour

By Freek on 26 Apr. 2015

With 25+ knot winds blowing, the final day of the Marseille Test Event for the 2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour, racing was cancelled. However over the previous three days, 15 races had been held in conditions ranging from 3-20 knots, providing the four teams with the most valuable learning experience prior to the Tour’s first event on Lake Traunsee, Austria over 27th-31st May.

The Test Event provided a great indication of the racing we can look forward to: The spectacle of the gravity-defying foiling boats, particularly as they simultaneously scream off away on their reaching starts at speeds exceeding 30 knots. The quality of the racing already seems good with regular position changes and different winners – after 15 races, ARMIN STROM Sailing Team claimed honours, but was just four points ahead of Alinghi.

For this regatta America’s Cup helmsman and expert foiler Chris Draper was standing in for Flavio Marazzi on ARMIN STROM: “It has been really good fun and there have been some great sailors to sail against – it has been good watching them picking up foiling so quickly.”

Draper believes the GC32 has a great future: “If you think about the money people are spending on their other boats and campaigns, and you think about how much fun they could have here… It is really a viable boat for someone to drive who isn’t a pro. You probably aren’t going to win a lot, but you are going to have some serious fun. And it is not that expensive. We had four boats here, but the boat is so accessible, you could see it going nuts.”

Of the four teams in Marseille two – Alinghi and Spindrift racing – were complete novices in the GC32, but are of such high calibre that they were soon winning races.

Alinghi overtook Spindrift racing overall on Saturday with Team Principal Ernesto Bertarelli helming for three races and promptly scoring 2-1-2, despite it only being his fifth time out on the GC32.

“I enjoy it immensely,” said Bertarelli. “I find the boat exciting, but safe at the same time. It is a huge learning curve compared to other multihulls I’ve raced, but one that is approachable and affordable. I think it is a good owner’s boat.”

According to Alinghi stand-in helmsman Morgan Larson, this is the most enthusiastic he has ever seen Bertarelli. “It was probably a little daunting for him – it was daunting for me! But once you get behind the tiller and get a few races under your belt, you realise it is achievable and that you are not just surviving out there on the track, but you are racing. There were moments it felt like a wild beast out of control, but 80% of the time he was thinking ‘I can race this thing and with a little practice I’ll get better’.”

As for Alinghi, this was also the cat foiling debut for the highly experienced Spindrift racing crew and skipper Yann Guichard: “This event was good for us, because the GC32 is completely new for me and my team and the feeling at the helm is a bit different. It was really important for us to be here. I’m surprised how fast and stable the GC32 is – although I could be more stable! We have to spend time on the fine tuning – the right rake on the rudder and the T-foil, etc.”

2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing TourAfter years campaigning multihulls, Guichard is relishing being at the sharp end of the ‘foiling revolution’, one of the most significant developments ever in sailing. However he is also looking forward to the competition on the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour. “The level of the guys is very high, which is good for the circuit and good to make improvements.”

On the steepest learning curve, coming from a completely different avenue of sailing, is Sebastian Rogues and GDF Suez. “This was the first event with some of the teams who want to race the season on the GC32,” said the former Class40 champion. “Now we know what we have to do to get better in the next event and for all season – that is why we came here.”

Teams will now return to their bases to continue training prior to the first event of the Tour proper, in just one month’s time.

Marseille One Design – Final Day

GC32 Armin Strom Sailing Team emerge victorious.

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.

Armin Strom‘2014 Marseille One Design – Armin Strom Sailing Team in action’ Sander van der Borch ©

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!’

Armin Strom Sail Team2014 Marseille One Design – Armin Strom Sailing Team – Sander van der Borch_©

‘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.’

by Armin Strom Sailing Team

Marseille One Design – Day Three

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.

GDF SuezThree 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.

Armin StromThis 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 SuezGDF 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 TeamArmin Strom Sailing Team hauling the mail – 2014 Marseille One Design, Day 3 – Sander van der Borch/The Great Cup

gc322014 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

Marseille One Design – Day Two – the GC 32

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.

At the close of play, Armin Strom Sailing Team continues to dominate, holding 14 points, with GDF Suez second on 23 and Team Magic Marine third on 25. However the lead boat, skippered by Swiss former Olympic Star sailor Flavio Marazzi, did not have it all its own way and her three race wins today matched by French Class 40 legend Sebastien Rogues and his crew on board GDF Suez. In fact everyone claimed a race today with Dutch former A-Class World Champion Mischa Heemskerk and his fledgling crew on Team Magic Marine winning today’s opener – an outstanding performance considering today was only the second on the water for both crew and boat.
Marseille One Design - GC322014 Marseille One Design, Day 2 – © Guilain Grenier / The Great Cup Click Here to view large photo

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.

Marseille One Design - GC322014 Marseille One Design, Day 2 – © Guilain Grenier / The Great Cup Click Here to view large photo

‘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.

Marseille One Design - GC32

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.’

Marseille One Design - GC322014 Marseille One Design, Day 2 – GDF Suez – © Guilain Grenier / The Great Cup Click Here to view large photo

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.

Marseille One Design – Day One – the GC 32

Fasten your seatbelt, your flight to Marseille One design is about to take off. GC32 circuit stops in MArseille for crazy fast races up on the foils, hang on!

Racing for the foiling GC32s resumed in dramatic style at the opening day of Marseille One Design, run by Sirius Evènements with backing from the city of Marseille. Throughout the day the northeasterly Mistral wind built and for this afternoon’s two races it was gusting to above 20 knots, causing the flying catamarans’ speed to soar at times well above 30 knots.

GC32 MagicMarineStar of the day was Flavio Marazzi and his ARMIN STROM Sailing Team. The team of the Swiss former Olympic Star sailor won both this morning’s practice races and this afternoon followed this up with victory in the first two scoring races of Marseille One Design.

Marazzi attributed his success today to ‘time in the boat’, with more foiling catamaran experience in his crew than his rivals. “It is a good result, but I think if you practice it is easier to sail the boat, particularly if you are new to the boat and there’s 15 knots when small mistakes can create problems.”

However Marazzi did not have it all his own way. While there is a strong sense of crews still getting to grips with the state of the art Martin Fischer-designed catamaran, since it became an airborne foiler at the beginning of the year, Dutch former A-Class catamaran World Champion, Mischa Heemskerk, nearly won today’s final
race aboard his brand new Magic Marine.

GC32 Marseille One Design 2014With the boats sailing on an ‘America’s Cup-style’ course, starting and finishing with reaching legs, the final race saw multiple lead changes with the newbie Magic Marine crew ahead for most of the final lap.

“We made some mistakes,” admitted Marazzi, trailing at this www. “It is hard to make no mistakes on these boats, but equally it is easy to catch up even if you are 200-300m behind. And it is good fun – the GC32s are rocketships.”

However at the start of the final reach into the finish, when they appeared to have victory sealed, Magic Marine suffered a problem with one of her boards, was unable to gybe, allowing her Swiss rival through.

Nonetheless, Mischa Heemskerk was delighted by the Magic Marine team’s performance, particularly as at midday they were still scrambling to get their boat launched. “It is a new team and we haven’t sailed together, so we are still figuring out boat handling during racing,” Heemskerk admitted. He welcomed this afternoon’s bigger breeze as it meant that his fledgling crew, that includes British Artemis Offshore Academy sailor Rich Mason, weren’t forced to use the genniker on their maiden voyage.

“We are very pleased,” Heemskerk continued. “Everything stayed together, everything worked. There were minor issues and I am looking forward to tomorrow. The GC32 is a great concept and it is so well built and such fun to sail. You sit at the back of the boat and you look forward and there are four guys with big smiles on their faces.”

Unfortunately the GC32s have not sailed as a fleet since Traunsee Week in Austria in May and Marseille One Design is only their second event since they started foiling this spring. This created a few issues today.

First to suffer was GDF Suez, which during today’s second practice race broke the tip off one of her J-shaped daggerboards, forcing the French to limp back into Marseille’s Roucas Blanc Marina. According to skipper Sébastien Rogues, it was the ‘old’ board that broke just as they had dropped the ‘new’ board in preparation to gybe. Tomorrow he and his team, that includes two time America’s Cup helmsman Seb Col as tactician, will be back on the water with borrowed foils.

This is only Rogues’ first foray into foiling multihulls and despite today’s incident he is ecstatic about the boat: “It is just amazing, I love it – it’s a flying multihull. The boat is easy to sail.”

For this afternoon’s two races a short sharp chop had developed and this caught out GC32 creator Laurent Lenne and his SPAX Solution crew on the first run of this afternoon’s first scoring race. As Lenne explained: “We were doing 35-40 knots in about 25 knots of wind and the boat rammed a wave at full speed. Because the upwind board was neutral [rake], it seemed to hook up the boat and slammed it through 90 degrees.”

This round up was so violent that it tossed overboard Lenne, who was still hanging on to the rudder, in turn causing the rudder housing to break. They recovered but young French sailor Pierre Le Clainche damaged his ribs in the incident and was having trouble breathing. Lenne steered the boat back to shore from where Le Clainche was taken to hospital.

Apart from today’s set-back, Lenne was excited by today’s racing and the level of interest being shown in the GC32. “The weather is good, the wind is good and we have delivered a new boat.” He is also pleased to once again be sailing in his native France, especially now that there are more French sailors getting involved in the circuit such as Sebastiens Rogues and Col, plus another team that is soon to take delivery of a boat.

Racing resumes tomorrow with a further two races scheduled for the morning at 11:00 and another six in the afternoon starting at 2.00, when SPAX Solution’s crew will be joined by multihull legend Loick Peyron.