An interview with Dave Doucett on the 2021 U32 World Championship


An interview with Dave Doucett on the 2021 U32 World Championship

by David Schmidt Nov 11 04:00 PM UTC
November 15-21, 2021

The M32s in action in February 2020, just before the world changes © Felipe Juncadella / Up Top Media

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Dave Doucett is the M32 Class Director in North America © Zoe Norbom

When Göran Marström designed the lines for the M32 catamaran, he probably didn’t imagine that the 32ft speedster would be used to win the Race to Alaska, but that’s exactly what Randy Miller, Ian Andrewes and Colin Dunphy (AKA MAD Dog Racing Team) succeeded in 2016 when they claimed the R2AK’s $ 10,000 handbag. Impressively, they covered the 710 nautical mile stretch from Victoria, BC to Ketchikan, Alaska in three days, 20 hours and 13 minutes, passing desolate beaches regularly patrolled by grizzly bears.

Impressive, MAD Dog Racing Team beat the next boat—Team Skiff Jungle Kitty Foundation (a fast and well sailed Fox 44 monohull) – crossed the finish line in over 16 hours.

And what exactly does the adventure-minded R2AK have to do with the 2021 M32 Worlds or the One Design active class that regularly features top-level racing in North America and Europe? Nothing precisely, except to serve as an example of the speed of these performing catamarans when released in off-piste conditions.

When racing in One Design, as is often the case with active leadership and engaged class members, the start lines, branded rounds, tactics and, depending on conditions, the handling of the boat can become downright athletic.

Best of all, the M32s are a class of owner-pilots, so while there are a lot of professional sailors involved, there is also the possibility for top Corinthian teams and skippers to trade tacks with some of the fastest sailors in the world.

The 2021 U32 World Championship is set to take place in the waters off Miami, Fla., November 15-21. I reached out to Dave Doucett, M32 Class Manager in North America, by email, to find out more about this high octane world championship regatta.

Can you tell us a bit about the M32 class, its culture and the types of teams one can expect to find at a world championship level regatta?

We call the M32 fleet a big family. We run our events independently from other racing events.

The race on the water is quite intense, but everyone is quite sociable at the dock. The M32 is a One Design owner-pilot class with over 20 teams in active racing.

We anticipate 13 teams in Miami at [this year’s] Worlds. The M32 attracts some of the best pros. Most importantly, it attracts aspiring pros who then took to AC and SailGP type events.

Weather wise, what conditions can sailors expect off Miami, Florida in mid-November? What are the most optimistic and the most pessimistic weather scenarios?

We held a test event in 2019 during the same week that we will be hosting the Worlds this year, from November 18 to 21. We had fantastic conditions on Biscayne Bay, 12 to 17 knots and flat water.

Do you consider that local knowledge plays a big or a small role in the outcome of the regatta? Can you please explain?

Teams learn that the consistency of the crew from one event to the next gets you on the podium.

This season will be our seventh year of racing in Miami, so all [teams] I have a lot of knowledge about water, so I don’t see any advantage with that …

However, the local Miami nightlife can certainly pull you off the catwalk the next day, so knowing how to handle that will be key.

If you could give one piece of advice to visiting (and local) teams, what would it be?

The U32 world championship includes the pre-worlds and the worlds.

In total, i.e. six days of racing, plus most teams will train two to four days, [so] it’s a high speed sailing marathon. Teams will need to train and attack the event with this mindset.

Do you have teams you are aiming for podiums? What about the black horses that you think might turn out to be quick, once the shots start ringing?

Don Wilson and Team convexity played the role of Lewis Hamilton of F1 winning the last Worlds and [they] have been dominant in the previous events of the summer and winter series.

Pieter Taselaar and Bliksem team seek to play the role of [F1’s] Max Verstappen. Both are Dutch, and Blikesem finished second at the last Worlds.

Jen Wilson is back after taking a break from sailing, but her team Convergence is fatal in light air.

In the end, I think it will be played on the last race of the Worlds with four to five teams in contention.

What kind of course will the event use? Are we talking about leewards, or are you using different shapes and angles? Also, what are the departures like?

We use a similar setup to SailGP with a start within easy reach and gates to the wind and downwind.

The target running time is 16-17 minutes.

Departures are at full speed, with 13 M32s positioning themselves and accelerating to 17 to 20 knots.

We plan to organize 15 to 17 races for the Worlds.

Obviously, organizing and running a major regatta in the midst of an always hectic pandemic is not easy. Can you tell us about the biggest logistical and organizational hurdles you had to overcome to make this happen?

We had a target of 20 M32 at this year’s event. However, with travel still limited, 13 [teams] is reality.

We have four more Miami Winter Series events from January through April [2022], and look to add teams as we progress through the season.

US Sailing has been a great partner in bringing international teams and crews to the start line. We have a well developed C-19 event playbook which has been effective.

Can you tell us about the efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to reduce the environmental footprint of the regatta or to make the regatta greener?

Organizing a green event is now the norm. If a sailor came down the dock with single-use water bottles, [other] the teams would say [that person] go back to 2010.

That being said, we are always looking to improve our footprint.

Last year we switched to all-electric Marksetbots, eliminating one to two powerboats [that were used for] adjustment marks. In addition, we have all the documentation of the virtual event.

Is there anything else you would like to add for the record?

The M32 is a high-speed, competitive One Design class, but with a fun owner-driver group. We have demonstration boats available this winter, with a pro coach.

Come join the family.

NB, Anyone interested in knowing more about the M32 class can reach Mr. Doucett at

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