Rockwool’s Lagos GC32 masterclass

Four days of racing at the GC32 Lagos Cup came to a conclusion today on Portugal’s Algarve coast with a run-away victory for the Nicolai Sehested-skippered Team Rockwool Racing. Out of 15 races sailed, the Danish SailGP crew won a phenomenal ten, including an opening day of five races when they were unbeaten. In fact Thursday was the only one of the four days when the wind was blowing ‘as advertised’ off Lagos – a 13 knot offshore breeze from the prevailing northwest, permitting the sea to remain flat and the GC32s to enjoy full foiling with reaching starts. Sadly conditions remained elusively light on Friday when, despite the best attempts of PRO Stuart Childerley and his team from Lagos Yacht Club throughout the day, no races could be held.

Team Rockwool Racing’s impressive scoreline enabled the Danes to stand-down from today’s last race, held in 6-7 knots and yet were still able to win this, the GC32 Racing Tour’s sole event of 2023, by eight points ahead of Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team. The reigning GC32 World Champions this week had French multihull legend and former two time GC32 Racing Tour winner Franck Cammas helming.

“It is never easy, but obviously we had good team work and good speed. Life becomes a bit easier when you are fast,” commented Sehested. “We are pretty happy with the week and how we sailed, but it is never easy. We have been pushed all week, especially by Black Star.”

Above: Celebrations for the crew of Team Rockwool Racing. Photo: Tó Mané / GC32 Racing Tour
Above: Celebrations for the crew of Team Rockwool Racing. Photo: Tó Mané / GC32 Racing Tour

As to their success, the former match racer and Volvo Ocean Race crew added: “It comes down to us spending time together as a group. I think we have also probably sailed more than some of the teams did over the winter and lately with SailGP, so we came in [from Chicago] warmed-up and ready, so that is the main difference. We are not doing anything special. We are just doing things a little bit better than some of the other teams are.”

Sehested added that the result may not have been so definitive had they not get some practice in, held mostly in light winds, in Lagos earlier in the spring.

Black Star Sailing Team claimed four of the five remaining bullets with .film AUS Racing, skippered by GC32 Class Association President Simon Delzoppo winning the final race. The Aussie team, including two new crew, both experienced GC32 hands who previously raced on board Erik Maris’ Zoulou, have been showing marked improvement this week and managed to beat Black Star Sailing Team in five of the 15 races. As a result they won the Owner-Driver trophy for the GC32 Lagos Cup.

Simon Delzoppo and the crew of .film AUS Racing receive their prizes, including the GC32 Lagos Cup owner-driver trophy.
Simon Delzoppo and the crew of .film AUS Racing receive their prizes, including the GC32 Lagos Cup owner-driver trophy. Photos: Tó Mané / GC32 Racing Tour

The Polish HRM Racing crew, led by businessman and experienced racing sailor Piotr Harasimowicz, remain the ‘newbies’ on the race track this week having only joined the GC32 Racing Tour last year. They also were among the ‘most improved.’

Harasimowicz commented of the opposition this week: “The guys are quick. This is a perfection game and it is all about details. My strategy was to close the competence gap with the best. For sure we are in the pack and for sure we are fighting and for sure we are closing the gap so I am happy because our strategy is done.”

The Poles may have benefitted from the lighter conditions. “Of course, it is most fun when the boats are flying and the biggest thrill is when they are at high speed. For us obviously lighter conditions give us more opportunity to be in the pack because we still need to train in the stronger conditions. But I had fun in the tougher conditions on the first day and the lighter conditions today,” concluded Harasimowicz, whose team aims to train up young Polish sailors and who has the ultimate ambition of entering them in the Youth America’s Cup.

The GC32 Lagos Cup took place with the support of partners Marinepool, GAC Pindar and Forward WIP and local venue partners – City of Lagos, Sopromar, Marina de Lagos, Clube Vela de Lagos, Engel & Völkers, Sonel Hotel, Multirental, Oyster Select, Luzalbashop, AwiWorld and Galp.

Report: James Boyd / Sailing Intelligence

Piotr Harasimowicz's HRM Racing. Photos: Tó Mané / GC32 Racing Tour
Piotr Harasimowicz’s HRM Racing. Photos: Tó Mané / GC32 Racing Tour

Results

PosTeamR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10R11R12R13R14R15Tot
1Team Rockwool Racing11111131121221423
2Black Star Sailing Team34223212212113231
3.film AUS Racing22332323433344142
4HRM Racing Team43444444344432354

http://www.gc32racingtour.com/

About the GC32 Racing Tour:

Although racing for the GC32s first took place in 2011, 2023 is the ninth season of the modern day GC32 Racing Tour. This southern European-centred circuit for one design foiling catamarans, seeks to attract both private owner-driven boats and commercially-backed teams with a race format aimed at providing the best foiling catamaran experience for participants. This remit includes visiting venues where there is the most likelihood of seeing optimum wind conditions for foiling and setting up race courses large enough to enable the GC32s to hit maximum 30+ knot speeds.

About the GC32

The GC32 is a 10m long (12m including bowsprit) by 6m wide foiling catamaran conceived by Laurent Lenne and designed by Dr Martin Fischer, now Chief Designer for the British INEOS Britannia America’s Cup Challenger. It is built in carbon fibre by Premier Composite Technologies in Dubai.

The GC32 is fitted with T-foil rudders and J-shaped daggerboards/foils, conceptually similar to those used on the America’s Cup catamarans, with adjustable rake on all appendages. However relative to the boat’s size, the foils are substantially larger, allowing the GC32 to foil even in low wind speeds and with much great stability and ease. Despite having big foils, GC32s are fast! Alinghi holds the record with a peak speed of 39.21 knots.

Unlike AC catamarans, the GC32 features a more manageable soft-sail rig, has one design sails and no hydraulics. It is demountable with a two piece mast for easy transportation.

The GC32 is administered by the GC32 International Class Association (www.gc32.org). In 2017 the class was formally recognised by World Sailing and held its first World Championship in 2018.

Past GC32 Racing Tour season winners:

2022 Alinghi Red Bull Racing – SUI 8 (SUI)
2021 Alinghi (SUI)
2020 Not held due to pandemic
2019 Alinghi (SUI)
2018 NORAUTO (FRA)
2017 Realteam (SUI)
2016 NORAUTO (FRA)
2015 Sultanate of Oman (OMA)
2014 Armin Strom Sailing Team (SUI)

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