GC32 Lagos Cup 2: Narrow lead for Alinghi

Lagos, Portugal: While the results might indicate that Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi team had it their own way, topping the leader board after day one of racing at the GC32 Lagos Cup 2; this was far from the case with Rockwool Racing giving the favourites a run for their money.

The boats were only called out at 1600 with the first race getting underway just after 1700 local time when the breeze had veered into the northwest and built to 12 knots. As predicted, over the next two hours the wind built and by the time the boats were sent home after four races, the offshore breeze was gusting well into the 20s.

Following their comfortable victory at the GC32 Lagos Cup 1 earlier in the month, Alinghi were nosing ahead at the first reaching mark. They continued to consolidate their lead to finish ahead of Erik Maris’ Zoulou.

At the start of the fourth race, both Alinghi and the Red Bull Sailing Team (skippered by Nathan Outteridge) were called OCS at the start. They both had to drop back behind their competitors. Despite trailing into the reaching mark, by the time the fleet reached the leeward gate Alinghi had stormed back to recover second place. 

Alinghi helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis said, “We fought really hard to come back through the fleet, but we had good boat speed and good handling and Nico [Charbonnier] saved us with a nice layline call on the first downwind which got us past Rockwool.” 

Alinghi never finished off the podium and holds a useful two point lead over second place. “It was exactly the start we wanted, but we need to work harder over the weekend because the fleet is raising its game. Everyone is sailing well and one mistake equals one place,” said Psarofaghis.

The boat that did manage to get the starts it wanted in today’s middle two races was Team Rockwool Racing, skippered by Nicolai Sehested.  

“The first race we were missing out a little bit, but otherwise we were pretty happy with the 1-1-3,” said the team’s mainsheet trimmer, GC32 veteran Rasmus Køstner. “When the breeze is in, we feel fast and we’re sailing very well with good manoeuvres and good starts, which makes it a little easier.”

Today was the birthday of Team Rockwool Racing’s Portugal shore crew Renato Conde. “He asked for 60% wins for a birthday present and after three races it looked like that. We should have stopped then!” said Køstner. Team Rockwool is second overall behind Alinghi, with Red Bull Sailing Team a further two points back in third.

Black Star Sailing Team at pace
Black Star Sailing Team at pace © Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

The fourth and final race saw Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team making a blazing timed run into the windward end of the line, this slingshot technique edging them into the lead as Alinghi. Black Star Sailing Team was first into the reaching mark and on the next run they had extended the lead enough that even Alinghi were unable to catch up.  

“We just went back to the basics, did what we could and kept it simple,” explained Zuerrer. “Definitely, the competition is much closer, the level is higher than the last event following the 18 months break. The race committee did a great job keeping us ashore rather than sending us out to hang out on the water all day in the sun. It was a long day for everyone, but they made a good decision.”

Tomorrow the wind is set to fill in more strongly and earlier, so it looks unlikely the 1300 start will be delayed.

For the full results, see: http://www.gc32racingtour.com/results/

– GC32 Racing Tour

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