NORAUTO GC32 shines as last event of GC32 Series kicks off

After a day and a half of France’s second city being battered by gale force winds, Marseille One Design, the last event of the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour, got going this afternoon with three races successfully sailed. 

Following this morning’s thunder and lightning, as the last weather front associated with this system edged inland, so the wind dropped to a more modest 10-15 knots and the first race got away at 1541 after one general recall. 

Despite the conditions being more reasonable, the race course on Marseille’s Rade Sud was still a minefield with some giant clouds nearby playing havoc with the wind. As Australian match racer Keith Swinton, here in Marseille helming the Japanese GC32 Mamma Aiuto!, observed: “It was shifty and there were some pretty big holes – 6-7 knots in the big ones and up to 18 knots in the puffs. It was challenging…”

This is Swinton’s first time helming a GC32. Nonetheless the Japanese team won today’s second race, finding a favourable shift on the final beat that propelled Mamma Aiuto! out in front. Swinton may be new to the GC32 helm, but up until the beginning of 2015 he called tactics on ARMIN STROM Sailing Team. Compared to then, he observes that there are now: “a lot more boats and everyone is stepping it up, so it makes it all the more pleasing that we seem to be competitive.” 

For Marseille One Design, all but one of Mamma Aiuto!’s crew is standing in for regular hands, but this has provided Japanese sailor Federico Sampei (named after Italian film director Federico Fellini) with a chance to compete on the GC32 Racing Tour. Part of the Japanese Red Bull Youth America’s Cup team, Sampei’s only sailing to date has been on a GC32, starting in Japan last December. Today was his first ever yacht race and he was thrilled: “Everyone tells me it is a big step – I am very much enjoying it.” 

At the end of day one, 2016 GC32 Racing Tour leader NORAUTO powered by Groupama Team France holds first place at Marseille One Design, after scoring a trio of second place finishes today. The French team’s rival for the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour title, Team Tilt from Switzerland, won the first race, but lacked NORAUTO’s consistency.

“We sailed pretty well in that race,” conceded Team Tilt’s skipper Sebastien Schneiter. “The other two races were a bit more complicated – in the second we got a penalty on the last reach: We were battling with NORAUTO and they did a few match racing moves on us. And in the last race we were over early at the start.” Schneiter acknowledged that it hadn't been their best day, but Team Tilt’s speed was good and they had manoeuvred well. Nonetheless they currently lie third overall, a point astern of Mamma Aiuto!

Today’s final race was claimed by Team ENGIE, skippered by Sébastien Rogues. Like Team Tilt, Rogues admitted that their performance today lacked consistency with a 8-9 in the first two races. “We didn’t start well and after, when you are behind, it is difficult to recover. We started better in the third race when we won the pin end.” 

With the sun getting low in the sky and the wind starting to misbehave, proceedings were halted after three races. Marseille One Design continues tomorrow, when it is likely there will be a wait until the afternoon for the wind to fill in. 

Follow the live blog from the racing at

– GC32 Media 

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