Owner-drivers in the majority at 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE

By on 25 Jul. 2017

Setting sail on the Bay of Palma next week will be 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Organised by the Real Club Nautico de Palma, the Mediterranean’s most prestigious multi-class regatta is also the third stage of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour.

As in 2016, ten GC32 flying catamarans will compete at Copa del Rey MAPFRE, but this time, for the first occasion ever on the GC32 Racing Tour, privately backed owner-driver teams will outnumber those with pro-drivers. Perhaps they have been motivated by the success of American Jason Carroll and Argo, who won not just the owner-driver trophy but the overall prize at the GC32 Villasimius Cup in Sardinia last month.

Argo returns for Copa del Rey MAPFRE as do their arch-rivals, Pierre Casiraghi on Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco. The event is a favourite for Mamma Aiuto!’s Naofumi Kamei from Japan, having won two years ago on a TP52 and sailing with a largely Spanish crew led by Manuel Weiller. Brand new to the circuit will be Australian Simon Delzoppo’s .film Racing, including 2015 GC32 Racing Tour champion Leigh McMillan (read more here).

The GC32 Racing Tour is looking forward to the return of French skipper Erik Maris and his Zoulou team, which last raced his GC32 at Key West Race Week in 2015. “Erik really enjoyed the boat and the atmosphere. The class was very small at that time – there were only four boats,” remembers the team’s Thierry Fouchier. Since then Maris has been occupied with his other passion, motor racing and this year competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “He is still passionate about sailing,” continues Fouchier.

Maris comes with a strong multihull background having previously competed in the Extreme Sailing Series and the D35 catamaran circuit on Lake Geneva. He also has a formidable CV in monohulls and was 2003 Swan 45 European Champion and 2005 Mumm 30 World Champion.

Sailing on board with Maris and Fouchier will be other Groupama Team France crew including tactician Thomas Le Breton, Bruno Mourniac from the youth crew and bowman and GC32 veteran, Nicolas Heintz. “We’ll get in some training to get Erik used to helming again, and for us to remember how to use ropes!” quips Fouchier, who was main sheet trimmer for the French America’s Cup team. “The GC32 is a good boat and I think the GC32 Racing Tour is good for owner drivers – it goes to the nice locations and the format is ideal.”

Above: Erik Maris’ Zoulou in action at Key West Race Week 2015. Photo Jen Edney / www.edneyap.com. Below: On board with Código Rojo Racing Team. Photo: Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

Also competing at Copa del Rey MAPFRE will be Código Rojo Racing Team, skippered by Federico Ferioli. The Argentinean team joined the GC32 Racing Tour this season, but Ferioli has fond memories of Copa del Rey. “I was there last year to watch the GC32s – that’s when I fell in love with the class,” he admits. As to his prospects, he adds: “We are excited, but anxious as well. It is great to do Copa del Rey – it is a big event, a nice place and there should be nice weather.”

Integral to the Argentinean team will be Portugese sailor Renato Conde, who regularly competes with the SAP Extreme Sailing Team. His role will double as coach.

As to the owner-driver majority in Palma next week, Ferioli is looking for to it. “There are more boats and the Australians look like they have an experience crew, so the level will be very high. For us, we have a long way to go. We need more days on the water to polish our manoeuvres and get properly acquainted with the boat.”

Competition in the GC32 Racing Tour at 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE will take place over 2nd-5th August on a mix of windward-leewards and America’s Cup-style courses, plus the ANONIMO Speed Challenge, where crews and corporate guests compete to get the fastest timed run.

GC32 Racing Tour teams at 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE

.film Racing (AUS) – Simon Delzoppo*
Argo (USA) – Jason Carroll*
ARMIN STROM Sailing Team (SUI) – Flavio Marazzi
Código Rojo Racing Team (ARG) – Federico Ferioli*
Team ENGIE (FRA) – Sebastien Rogues
Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco (MON) – Pierre Casiraghi*
Mamma Aiuto! (JPN) – Naofumi Kamei*
Movistar (ESP) – Iker Martinez
Realteam (SUI) – Jérôme Clerc
Zoulou (FRA) – Erik Maris*
* = owner-driver