Can Adam Minoprio score the Traunsee hat trick?

By on 25 Apr. 2016

Adam Minoprio returns to the GC32 Racing Tour this season with Franck Cammas’ Norauto Racing team.

The talented Kiwi sailor, who in 2009 became the youngest ever skipper to become Match Racing World Champion and subsequently competed in the 2011-2 Volvo Ocean Race aboard Camper, has been involved at the key moments during the GC32 Racing Tour’s past three seasons. In fact, Minoprio is in the history books for having won the GC32’s first ever event. That was back in May 2013, on Lake Traunsee, Austria.

For 2013, its first season of racing, the GC32 was fitted with S-profile daggerboards and was a ‘low rider’ (ie its hulls didn’t fly above the water). But following the America’s Cup in San Francisco, that changed and over the winter of 2013-4, the catamaran was retrofitted with her present J-shaped daggerfoils and inverted-T rudder configuration, that, combined, enable her to ‘fly’.


Adam Minoprio tops the podium in Traunsee in 2013

Minoprio returned to Lake Traunsee for the start of the 2014 GC32 Racing Tour and the first ever regatta for the now airborne, fully foiling GC32s, as a trimmer/tactician for Chris Draper and Luna Rossa, the now defunct Italian challenger for the 35th America’s Cup. Again he won on the picture postcard perfect Austrian lake.

For 2016, Minoprio returns Austria for the GC32 Alps Challenge Traunsee over 12th-15th May. This is a special, additional event, once again run out of Gmunden, and this year leads into to the main 2016 GC32 Racing Tour proper, which starts with the GC32 Riva Cup on Lake Garda over 26-29th May. The GC32 Alps Challenge Traunsee will also have a different format  to the Tour events: Match racing, but with fleet racing to determine the match race seeding.

In Austrian next month, Minoprio will be temporarily taking over the helm of Norauto Racing from regular skipper Franck Cammas, who is sadly unavailable. However filling the great French skipper’s shoes holds no horror for Minoprio, who has spent four months two boat training on the team’s GC32s. In recent weeks this training has once again involved Cammas who is back on the water after he suffered a severe foot injury while out training in Brittany at the end of December. According to Minoprio, Cammas still sails with his foot in a carbon fibre brace, but otherwise has staged a near complete recovery.

So will Minoprio make it a hat trick of wins in Austria? Even though 2016 will be the third season of racing for the flying GC32s, the learning curve remains steep for all the teams and nothing replaces time in the boat when it comes to building experience. This is particularly true when you have the opportunity to train against a well-sailed identical boat, as Minoprio has. So even though Norauto Racing is new to the GC32 Racing Tour in 2016, even though its crew will be continuously be rotated through the season, with Cammas helming some and Minoprio others, their two boat training should make them immediately competitive even against teams with a longer track record on the GC32 Racing Tour, like Spindrift racing and ARMIN STROM Sailing Team.

“The Tour should be loads of fun,” says Minoprio. “There will be eight or 10 teams and some great racing. We are running a bit of a rotation policy with Norauto Racing, so hopefully I’ll get to do a couple of events. We’ll be up to strength.”

As to the foiling GC32, Minoprio is a fan. The GC32 has been deliberately designed with more forgiving foils and controls that are not as finely tuned as the AC cats have, but are optimised to work across a broader range of conditions and can be handed by sailors with different levels of ability.
The boat is not as complicated as the larger foiling America’s Cup catamarans, but this is a double-edged sword. For example, the GC32 has a conventional multihull softsail rig instead of a solid wing and while on the one hand this can’t be trimmed as quickly, it does make for much simpler logistics, when docking or assembling/disassembling the boat.

“You can’t trim the boat as fast, but when you are trimmed up, the GC32 feels very lively and fast and it’s like the boat is on rails and you are just sending it,” says Minoprio.

During training Norauto Racing has hit 38 knots (40 knots remains tantalisingly close – if it is to be broken, we reckon it will be during the first two high wind, flat water regattas of the season on Lake Garda). Minoprio says he particularly appreciates that thanks to her trim and foil configuration, the GC32 shows no inclination to dig in her bows on the bearaways around the top mark as older generation low-rider catamarans do. For a capsize to occur, it is more likely to happen laterally rather than pitchpoling over the leeward bow. He admits they have capsized once this way during training and the boat did prove to be straightforward to right.

“They are fantastic boats,” continues Minoprio. “We have been out for three or four months here in France in winter in some pretty breezy conditions, 30 knots… and had some big crashes off the foils, burying the bows into the water and not once do you feel that the boat is going to flip. It is all feels very solid and safe and super exciting at the speeds you get to go.”

Despite a lack of past participation on the GC32 Racing Tour, expect Norauto Racing to be one of the main contenders in 2016.

Photo below by Yvan Zedda / Norauto Racing