Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup sets sail tomorrow

Penultimate round of racing for the foiling one design cats

Wednesday September 21st 2016, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

State of the art ultra-high speed flying catamaran racing kicks off in Sotogrande, Spain tomorrow with the opening day of the GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup. With racing for the seven teams taking place over Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th September, this fourth and penultimate stage of the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour will go some way to determine the 2016 season’s results prior to the concluding regatta of the season, next month’s Marseille One Design.

At present on the third place of the podium, but hoping to rise higher is ARMIN STROM Sailing Team of GC32 Class President, Flavio Marazzi. The Swiss former Olympic Star sailor has been rotating crew this season, and this includes himself. Kiwi match racing champion, Phil Robertson, stood in for him at the last event, Copa del Rey MAPFRE, where they finished second. For GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup, Marazzi is back on the helm with Robertson moving to mainsheet and tactics.

“It is nice to be back on the boat,” says Marazzi. “They made a big effort in Palma to strengthen the team and improve from the base we developed in [Lake] Garda. Now we want to make another step from second to first.”

Sharon Ferris-Choat, the sole woman currently competing on the GC32 Racing Tour is moving into a coaching capacity for this regatta. “She is an important team member,” explains Marazzi. “Even if she is not on the boat she can help on the communications and energy in the team.”

Having raced at most of the world’s key sailing venues, Marazzi is enthusiastic about going to a place he has never sailed at before. Wearing his President’s hat he is pleased the GC32 Racing Tour is helping to put Sotogrande on the international regatta map.

Located 25km east of Gibraltar on Spain’s Andalucian coast, Sotogrande already has a reputation for hosting top events on the World Polo Tour at its Santa Maria Polo Club. For golfers, three of Spain's top ten golf courses are located here, including La Reserva, which amid new villas selling for €2m to over €20m, will provide one of Europe’s largest swimmable lagoons. Now Sotogrande is attempting to earn itself a similar status in sailing circles. Already this season it has hosted the RC44 Sotogrande World Championship and the J/80 World Championship.

“I have never been there, but from what I have seen, with the golf courses and the marina, it will be a good event,” says Marazzi. “In Palma we were part of a well-organised event. Here we are making our own event at the same level. It should be a very high standard.”

While there are no Spanish teams competing at GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup, the nearest is Naofumi Kamei’s Japanese entry Mamma Aiuto! On this are two Spanish sailors Manu Weiller and Volvo Ocean Race sailor and former 49er World Champion, Javier de la Plaza.

Having arrived in Sotogrande, a few days ago, Weiller said that there was no wind over the weekend but the rest of the week is looking good. “We think it will be great – flat water and 9-15 knots of wind. It’ll be perfect! Our aim is to do better than we did in Copa del Rey. But we are still learning.”

With Jason Carroll’s Argo not competing this week, the 2016 GC32 Racing Tour owner-driver championship looks likely to see a new leader after GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup. This should  be Malizia - Yacht Club de Monaco, skippered by Pierre Casiraghi. The Monaco team, which features sailors from Germany, France and the UK, is on the ascent, after winning the owner-driver racing at Copa del Rey MAPFRE last month.

However Casiraghi has his eye on the overall results: "We'll do our best to stay in the top five, but it will be difficult for sure. All the teams are getting better at every event.”
As to sailing this week in this up and coming international sailing venue, Casiraghi added: “We just arrived yesterday and Sotogrande seems like a very nice place with perfect facilities for a great regatta.”

Marc Topiol, CEO of event host Sotogrande SA said: “At last the GC32 Racing Tour is upon us.  The skippers and their teams have been arriving at Sotogrande over the last few days and the excitement in the air is palpable.  It promises to be a thrilling few days ahead of us on the water and we hope that teams and spectators alike enjoy the experience of the GC32 Racing Tour at Sotogrande.”

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