GC32 Racing Tour at Marseille One Design - Practice Race
Photos © Gilles Martin-Raget / GC32 Racing Tour
Realteam on the Marseille One Design Practice Day
Zoulou has a stand-in helm on the Marseille One Design Practice Day
Foiling catamaran action kicks off in Marseille tomorrow, Thursday 12th October and will run until Sunday, when the champion of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour will be crowned.
For a fourth consecutive year, the final event of the 2017 GC32 Racing is Marseille One Design, where the GC32 one design catamarans will race alongside their fellow flying sailors in the Moth dinghy class.
Marseille is always a popular destination for the GC32 Racing Tour. For more than 30 years, France has been the leading nation for multihull racing. Many the country's top sailing stars, some of them household names such as Michel Desjoyeaux, Loick Peyron and Franck Cammas, have forged their careers competing on two or three hulls.
While Cammas, winner of Marseille One Design in 2016, is not back to defend his title, several are from his Groupama Team France crew, who competed with him in this summer's America's Cup in Bermuda. They include wing trimmer and local Marseille resident, Thierry Foucher, Nicolas Heintz and former Olympic Finn sailor Thomas le Breton. All three are racing on one of the two French entries competing at Marseille One Design this year – Erik Maris' Zoulou.
The other French crew hoping for glory on their national waters is Team ENGIE of former Class 40 champion Sébastien Rogues. Rogues is also now one of the longest serving GC32 skippers. "My first GC32 experience was here in 2014 - I am the old guy of the GC32 class now!" he jokes. "We are very happy to be in France for the second event." Marseille One Design follows September's GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, both events organised by French company, Sirius Events in conjunction with the GC32 Racing Tour.
Rogues has strong objectives for Marseille One Design as it will affect his position on the 2017 championship leaderboard. "Marseille is important because it is the last event of the season and mathematically we can get on the podium. But between the podium and us is a Japanese team..." At present Mamma Aiuto! of Naofumi Kamei sits on the bottom step of the podium on 15 points, with Team ENGIE currently lying in fourth on 18.
The most local team to Marseille is Pierre Casiraghi's Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco. The Monaco team is hoping to repeat its performance from early on in Calvi, when they dominated racing. Unfortunately disaster then struck on the final day when they caught the top mark, damaging their rudder, which caused them to miss the last races, thereby losing the lead.
On board Malizia is former French America's Cup helmsman Sebastien Col, who heralds from Sète and who's yacht club – Yacht Club Pointe Rouge - is nearby in Marseille. "We have trained hard for the last three days and hopefully it will pay for the week," said Col. "Marseille is a place we like a lot, being French. Weather-wise it is a little bit on or off, light or breezy, but Marseille is a great city. I am really happy to be here."
Meanwhile the fight for the overall lead of the GC32 Racing Tour remains between the Swiss crew on Realteam led by Jérôme Clerc and, just two points behind, Argo of American Jason Carroll. In third place the crew on Mamma Aiuto! is looking to defend its third place. However the hottest contest over the next four days will be between Argo, Malizia and Mamma Aiuto! They are all within a point of one another in the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour's Owner-Driver championship.
Since joining the GC32 Racing Tour at Copa del Rey MAPFRE in August, Simon Delzoppo's.film Racing has been steadily on the ascent. Still firmly on the steepest part of the learning curve, the Aussie team, that includes 2015 GC32 Racing Tour winner skipper Leigh McMillan, is hoping to improve on its sixth place in Calvi last month.
Going into Marseille One Design, Manager Christian Scherrer said: "It is a great pleasure to be back in Marseille to round off the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, and a privilege to race out of the marina which will host the sailing at the Olympic Games in 2024."
Get the very latest news on the GC32 Racing Tour from www.gc32racingtour.com