Nico Martinez / 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE

One race day on crash and burn Bay of Palma

Team Tilt on the rise at the GC32 Racing Tour at Copa del Rey MAPFRE

Thursday August 4th 2016, Author: James Boyd /, Location: Spain

It was not the wind, but the wave state on the Bay of Palma that conspired against the GC32 Racing Tour on day two of competition at the 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE.

Conditions for the start of race six of the series at 1300 local time were similar to how they were left at the end of racing on Wednesday with 14 knots of onshore south-southwesterly, but with the sea state having become more lumpy and confused.

Even before racing started there were a few dramatic wipe-outs as boats came off their foils at speed and crashed down, all but stopping in their tracks. However the lively sea didn’t detract from another high adrenalin reaching start, with NORAUTO lifting up on to her foils as Kiwi helmsman Adam Minoprio threaded her through a gap at speed to lead around the reaching mark.

However close behind was the Swiss crew on Team Tilt and when NORAUTO crashed down off her foils after rounding the mark, they grabbed their chance to take the lead. From there Team Tilt, on which Emirates Team New Zealand skipper and multiple A Class catamaran World Champion Glenn Ashby trims the mainsheet, held on, increasing her advantage all the way to the line.

Their victory made up for disappointing results in yesterday’s final two races when they broke their jib sheet in one and were disqualified for starting prematurely under a ‘black flag start’, leaving the winning team from the GC32 Malcesine Cup in lowly six position.

“We put everything back together and today I think we were pretty confident with the conditions – we like it when it is strong and wavy,” said helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis, on loan from the Alinghi team. “It is fair to say that it was pretty rough outside. The wind wasn’t too bad, but the waves were demanding. You can hurt yourself pretty badly if you are pushing too hard and the boat drops off it foils and stops suddenly. You need to not foil too high and too fast. We’re still quite new to sailing these boats and like every boat, you need to train and be clever in how you sail.”

Sadly there were a few injuries of the sort Psarofaghis describes. One was on Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! As Manu Weiller, the team’s mainsheet trimmer and tactician explained: “We went through two very big waves, came off the foils and landed pretty hard and one of our guys, tailing the genniker sheet, fell on the beam with his shoulder. So the safety officer checked him and said he should go to the hospital.” The victim was Javier de la Plaza, a former 49er World Champion and Volvo Ocean Race sailor. He has since returned from hospital but is uncertain if he will be able to sail tomorrow.

Photo ©: Nico Martinez / 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE

In another incident on board NORAUTO, highly experienced multihull sailor Herve Cunningham, cut his arm badly.

The conditions also proved a little too much for the fledgling Swedish crew on Gunvor Sailing, already a little shaken after stuffing the bows in a couple of times before the start. Gunvor was into the top half of the fleet at the leeward gate, but then struggled at the top mark.

“We just didn’t have the skills to bear away,” admitted Swedish two time Olympic champion Freddy Lööf, sailing on board today as coach for Gunvor's new crew of young Swedish sailors. “The main problem was that we didn’t have the small jib on and were too powered up. So we said ‘let’s regroup and play it safe’ and keep going for the next race.

“The wind wasn’t the problem - it was the waves. We took the decision because the guys on the boat today had maybe two hours of sailing together. We had a new crew on today so it wasn’t worth taking the risk.”

Following the injuries and after some deliberation, the GC32s were sent ashore under postponement and despite the valiant attempts of the race committee to find flatter water, racing was ultimately cancelled for the day.

After today’s one race NORAUTO is now leading the GC32 racing at 35th Copa del Rey MAPFRE, albeit tied on points with yesterday’s leader ARMIN STROM Sailing Team. Today’s winner, Team Tilt has pulled up to fifth place, still with a lot of work to do.

Tomorrow conditions should be dramatically different. While a lot of wind is forecast early morning, this will be an offshore breeze and as a result should make for a wave-free Bay of Palma by the time conditions abate at start time (1300 local).

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