GC32 Riva Cup: Alinghi Red Bull Racing all the way

Lake Garda, Italy: The penultimate day of the GC32 Riva Cup, the opening event of the 2022 GC32 Racing Tour was a long one with an 0600 alarm for an 0800 start to make the most of Garda’s Pelèr wind and the crew of Alinghi Red Bull Racing were ready to deliver their best.

Two races were held before the northerly dissolved and the fleet was sent ashore to await the Ora to establish. This it did and at 1300 hours, racing resumed in a highly variable southerly, occasionally gusting into the 20s and shifting up to 30 degrees .

Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team prevailed in today’s most competitive race – Sailing Energy pic

Three more races were held in these conditions before thunder began rumbling around the mountains and the wind threatening to drop, the fleet was returned to the Fraglia Vela Riva’s marina.

It was hoped that Team Rockwool Racing would challenge the immaculate Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 8, but ultimately the Swiss finished second in both morning races and followed this with three bullets in the afternoon, leaving them with a 24-point lead.

“Our tactics were good. That made the difference in these conditions. Nico [Charbonnier] did a great job,” trimmer Bryan Mettraux commented.

“The wind was not perfect, but it is beautiful here and there’s strong winds and its sunny. It is a nice place for sailing.” Clouds building up threateningly over the mountains affected the lake’s regular winds and this afternoon’s first race it even paid to go left.

In the morning, two races had slipped from the Swiss grasp. In the first race, Team Rockwool Racing scored a massive win when she escaped a leeward gate shut down that caught all astern of her. But in this afternoon’s first and final races she was last.

High octane reaching starts for the seven GC32s – Sailing Energy pic

In the first, Team Rockwool Racing’s Danish flight controller, Rasmus Køstner, claimed a tactical error: “We just got it wrong – too hard left when the breeze started to drop closer to the shore.

“We knew it would happen but not when and we looked a little silly…” Meanwhile in today’s final race they were OCS with .film AUS Racing and received a double penalty for failing to carry out their penalty in time.

“In general, today it felt like we were mixing it up in the front at times, but some of the risks we didn’t manage well and we were doing things which didn’t gain us much,” Køstner said.

The second race this morning was another typical GC32 Racing Tour affair where everyone had their moment. It was the owner-driver ‘white boats’ – Jason Carroll’s Argo leading Erik Maris’ Zoulou that got off to the best starts at the pin and were still ahead going into the leeward gate.

Zoulou hung on up the first upwind to lead at the top. But here SUI 8 split, finding better pressure and shift on the right to lead to the leeward gate. Then on the final upwind, Black Star chose the timing of her long port tack to perfection and managed to get ahead of their compatriots coming into the final mark to take the bullet.

Highest level competition on the Tour – Sailing Energy pic

“We went from last to first,” recounted Christian Zuerrer. “We had a penalty to do and had to do two gybes at the reaching mark, so to finish first was a great comeback. We went back to the basics and kept it simple and tried always to be in pressure.

“We were more in the middle than on the corners. Of course, when you are behind, you can see where the guys ahead are in pressure and you can gybe or tack earlier.”

Zoulou started the day just one point ahead of Jason Carroll’s Argo after the US team had a superb Friday. Argo was unable to do as well today while Zoulou scored two podium finishes increasing her margin by four points.

“It was a pretty tough day,” said Zoulou tactician, Thierry Fouchier. “We had a nice first race and the second one was pretty tricky between the storms and ‘classic Garda’ which is right favoured.”

However not everything had gone to plan: “[In one] we went the wrong way on the second upwind and then it got really hard to catch up. In another we missed the start and it was pretty hard to catch up.

“The fleet is very tight – the level higher and higher.”

Effectively the GC32 Racing Tour’s newbie having not competed for three season, Simon Delzoppo’s film AUS Racing team is still fighting their way off the bottom of the leaderboard. “It was a good day with good breeze and a challenging race course, but they did a fantastic job,” Delzoppo said of his crew.

“We got off to some good starts. We are making improvements and we are in the mix. It is our first season back after a number of years. We are trying to concentrate on getting off the line well, but we clearly have some catching up to do.”

Tomorrow will be the final day of racing with a first warning signal planned for 1200 CEST.

Overall results
1 Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 8 4 3 1 3 1 1 1 2 2 2 1 1 1, 23
2 Team Rockwool Racing 2 2 2 1 3 7 7 1 1 5 7 2 7, 47
3 Black Star Sailing Team 1 7 4 6 7 5 3 5 4 1 3 3 2, 51
4 Zoulou 3 1 3 5 5 4 5 6 5 3 2 7 5, 54
5 Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 15 7 4 5 4 6 3 2 4 3 6 4 6 3, 57
6 Argo 6 6 6 2 4 2 4 3 6 4 6 5 4, 58
7 .film AUS Racing 5 5 7 7 2 6 6 7 7 7 5 4 6, 74

Owner-driver results
1 Zoulou 3 1 3 5 5 4 5 6 5 3 2 7 5, 54
2 Argo 6 6 6 2 4 2 4 3 6 4 6 5 4, 58
3 .film AUS Racing 5 5 7 7 2 6 6 7 7 7 5 4 6 ,74

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