The teams unveiled for the GC32 Racing Tour 2021 – Live Sail Die
A mix of teams, old and new, will take part in the GC32 Racing Tour in 2021. In a month’s time, the World Sailing approved circuit for high-performance 32-foot one-design flying catamarans will kick off with the first of two events in Lagos, Portugal. The GC32 World Championship will follow in Villasimius, Sardinia in September, with the season finale on the Spanish Mar Menor in early November.
One of the oldest GC32 skippers is Frenchman Erik Maris, who first raced his GC32 in 2015. As well as being an endurance car racing enthusiast (he raced last year with the (Eurointernational team in the LMP2 category at the 24 hours of Le Mans), Maris has a long and successful history in grand prix sailing, being a former European champion of the Swan 45 and Mumm 30 of the world. After finishing third overall in the GC32 Racing Tour in 2018 and winning his Owner-Driver championship in 2019, Maris returns this season with his same crew, led by America’s Cup veteran Thierry Fouchier.
“Zulu is really looking forward and excited to join the GC32 Racing Tour and get back to our favorite flying machine after an 18 month absence,” says Maris. “We love our GC32 and look forward to starting in Lagos and the season ahead.”
Alinghi, two-time America’s Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli, is undoubtedly one of the most successful teams in GC32. In 2019, the Swiss team was the star of the GC32 Racing Tour, winning the season and claiming victory in three of the five events, including the GC32 World Championship.
As in previous seasons, Bertarelli will share the helm with Arnaud Psarofaghis. “I’m really looking forward to getting back to the GC32 and being part of the circuit again after such a long break,” said Psarofaghis. “I hope it will be like riding a bike! “
In 2019, Alinghi won the last world championship in Lagos, Portugal. Unsurprisingly, Psarofaghis is delighted that the first two events of the GC32 Racing Tour 2021 will take place there in late June and late July. “It will make it easier for all teams and you can practice in between which will give us more time to level up after a one year hiatus.”
The 2021 season will mark the grand finale for two of the most successful sailors not only on the GC32 Racing Tour but in top level multihull racing in general: Austrian double Olympic gold medalists Tornado Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher of the Red Bull Sailing Team will retire at the end of the year.
Hagara wants to come out in style: “Our goal is to really fight for the podium places in every event while the big overall goal is to finish first in the standings at the end of the year. We don’t know how the other teams are going to behave because we had a very long break and no one has really trained and there is little preparation. It will be exciting to see how the other teams are doing and how we get along when we come to race.
The intention is for Red Bull Sailing Team to compete with the same crew as in 2019.
One team that has managed to train recently is Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team, who has sailed in business and even trained with his racing crew on Lake Lucerne in Zuerrer in Switzerland. “We were the ‘training world champions’! ironically Zuerrer, who this season will be trim again, while Chris Steele helms. “We spent almost a month sailing in Switzerland – it was a great time, fun for the whole team. We were also hiking in the mountains.
Black Star Sailing Team, who joined the GC32 Racing Tour in 2019, have an important addition to their crew this season at Pierluigi de Felice, fresh out of the 36th America’s Cup with Luna Rossa. One of the best trimmers in the world, he also has GC32 experience with SAP Extreme Sailing Team.
“I think this year it will be easier to reach a better level than in 2019,” Zuerrer continues, adding about the new season: “Having two events in Portugal is perfect. I really appreciate the organization there. We had a perfect time there during the Worlds two years ago. I am happy to return to Lagos.
Two new teams are expected to join the GC32 Racing Tour this year.
The Rockwool Racing team have made their debut as a Danish team in SailGP and will also be looking to hone their skills on the GC32 Racing Tour. Led by Nicolai Sehested, the young and very experienced former match racer / Volvo Ocean Race navigator, the crew includes former SAP Extreme Sailing Team co-skipper Rasmus Køstner and Oracle Team USA wing trimmer Tom Johnson . With such a staff, Sehested says, “When we start piloting the GC32, I hope we don’t have to spend too much time learning how to fly it. The GC32 is a boat you can launch, but it’s still fast and exciting. I think it’s really a lot of fun, but the best thing about it is the class to design. You have other identical boats racing against you.
Sehested looks forward to racing with other world class teams such as Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team. Team Rockwool Racing also has a strong initiative to develop sailing for young people in Denmark. This involves local sailors participating in “Rock the Boat Academy” training sessions.
With a similar mandate, only in Switzerland, is another new team of the GC32 Racing Tour – the Swiss Foiling Academy. Born from the D35 Veltigroup / Swisscom catamaran campaign, supported by the creator of MOD70 and Race For Water Marco Simeoni and two other donors, it is led by the sailboat Julien Monnier with Loïc Forestier (ex-Realteam) at the helm. It aims to train “ordinary” Swiss sailors aged 18 to 25, aboard its fleet of Flying Phantom catamarans, and now its GC32 (ex-INEOS Team UK). “It’s a new challenge. It’s a foiler, but otherwise it’s close to the D35, ”says Monnier.
Interestingly, the Swiss Foiling Academy will use the GC32 Racing Tour rule which allows an additional crew if at least two crew members are female. As a result, they will sail with six, including Louise Thilo and Amanda Anastassov.
Other teams from further afield will join the GC32 Racing Tour later in the season once international travel restrictions ease.