“Match racing in very light catamarans is a new thing,” says Linger, who has been racing with Klabbe Nylof's Audi Ultra Sailing Team on the M32 Scandinavian Series. “You can be sailing at 30 knots, so if you don’t know what you are doing, you are going to crash. It’s like motor racing or go-karts: You need a license to participate. This will teach them how to race these boats in a proper manner so that you don’t break them or crash, because sailing at 30 knots is new to everyone. And there are going to be a lot of people entering these regattas…”
Out of Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, the license training will be available until the end of January, by appointment, while in Bermuda it will take place over 5-7 January and 16-18 February. Typically each of these training periods will be attended by four crews, swapping in and out of two boats. Half of the training will be land-based theory, while the other half will be on the water, when the crews will get to grips with manoeuvring the M32 before they start racing it – upping pace and closeness of contact as they go, all the while with a coach on board.
Linger continues: “It is an intensive course with a very steep learning curve. They can adapt to it in three to four days and then be ready to race, but they need that time before going out on to the World Match Racing Tour, otherwise – as we have seen in the M32 Series – even really good sailors can go in there and get absolutely lost.”
The venues, Lanzarote and Bermuda, have been chosen because they both regularly offer the medium-strong winds in which it is necessary to gain M32 racing experience. “Above 10 knots it starts to become pretty critical how you sail these boats,” maintains Linger. “It is just to give them a feel for it, but also it is due to the insurance for the boats. We have a certificate to show that these guys have sailed the boats before. It is like a driving license.”
Mattias Dahlström, of the Race Management team, explains how licensing sailors will affect the racing: “In all sailing events keeping the sailors safe is top of the agenda. The World Match Racing Tour, aboard the M32s, will be faster than ever before and of course we take that into account when setting up the safety structure.
“The teams need to be able to handle the boat in a safe way to avoid serious incidents. The WMRT moving to multihulls represents a bigger change than shifting between different monohulls – it will mean rule changes and a different course set-up. The licensing training will highlight these differences and give the opportunity to test them on the water.”
Craig Mitchell, of the Race Management team, agrees: “We just want to know that the people racing on the Tour are not going to wreck the boats. So the licensing course is very much about boat handling and set-up and learning about what to do in the event of any incidents.
“Safety is priority number one. During racing, we’ll have all the safety equipment on site and a safety RIB with all the gear on board it to make sure that, in the event of, say, a capsize, everyone knows what to do, where you can and can’t stand, etc. The M32s have a righting system and the safety RIB will get in there to get the cat upright, and the team needs to know what they have to do during that.
“Then there’s the guest program, getting guests on and off boats. The syllabus goes through all of that to help crews get familiar with it.”