Champagne for Zoulou, caviar for Realteam

By James on 15 Oct. 2017

Victors were crowned on this final day of Marseille One Design, also the last day of competition on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour.

Esteban Garcia’s Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc, is the winner of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour. Following her victories at Riva and a ‘come from behind’ win in Calvi, Realteam’s third place at Marseille One Design was enough for the Swiss team to claim the overall Tour prize in 2017. Six points behind was American Jason Carroll’s Argo, just one ahead of Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! from Japan.

While Realteam’s championship victory looked almost secure this morning, Clerc said they had to remain careful: “Mathematically, there was a chance Argo could overtake us, so it was a tough day for us.” While they might not have been match racing today, Clerc admitted they were “looking at each other! We were sailing against one boat only, so our results today weren’t very good. But the goal was to beat Argo.”

Of their result, Clerc said: “This is the best result for Realteam so far. We were third in the Extreme Sailing Series, but to win this championship is great.”

For Realteam’s second season on the GC32 Racing Tour, Clerc and French coach Daniel Souben picked up new crew from Team Tilt and from Team ENGIE. “Last year we didn’t have enough experience, so we got some experienced guys and practiced a lot,” said Clerc. “We made some good steps forward.” Their crew included Cedric Schmidt, Bryan Mettraux, Loic Forestier, Christophe Carbonniere and Remi Aeschimann.

Above: Celebrations on board overall championship winner Realteam and below on Marseille One Design stand-out victors, Zoulou.

The final regatta of the season had a clear and definite winner: Erik Maris’ Zoulou. With 11 races sailed at Marseille One Design, the French team won all but two, including a perfect scoreline over the weekend. Today in winds of 8-9 knots, the boats were sailing upwind under gennaker and could foil fully downwind. In this, Zoulou led the seven GC32s around every mark on Marseille’s Rade Sud.

“It was really good,” said Arnaud Psarofaghis, standing in on the helm this week for owner Erik Maris. “We have a good team and some strong tactics and everything went really nicely. Everyone fought hard on the race course, but we had a little edge on them with our upwind speed and that put us in a really good position. It may have looked easy from the outside, but you had to fight for every metre and that took everyone on the boat.” He added: “I’d like to thank Mr Maris for letting me take the helm.”

Aside from Psarofaghis’ own talent, Zoulou benefitted from her crew coming from the Groupama Team France America’s Cup crew, many also having sailed with skipper Franck Cammas on NORAUTO when they won both the GC32 Racing Tour and Marseille One Design in 2016.

Receiving the most silverware at the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour/Marseille One Design prizegiving, held in the hospitality lounge on the Marina Olympique du Roucas Blanc, was Naofumi Kamei and the crew of Mamma Aiuto! With Jason Carroll’s Argo and Pierre Casiraghi’s Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco scoring deep results at Marseille One Design, the Japanese GC32 claimed not just the Owner Driver trophy for Marseille One Design, but also the the 2017 Owner Driver Championship prize outright.

Mamma Aiuto! also won the ANONIMO Speed Challenge at Marseille One Design, for which they received an Anonimo Nautilo watch. Realteam was presented with a limited edition Anonimo Nautilo GC32 Racing Tour watch, especially finished in the black and yellow colours of the GC32 logo.

“Kamei-san is very happy, over the moon. He gave us a great shout when we crossed the line,” said Manu Weiller, tactician on Mamma Aiuto! “Today was very good, although it started with some stress, when we made a very bad start in the first race. But then things started to go better and we got second places in the last two races. Zoulou was unbeatable so we were ‘first behind Zoulou’.”

Also ‘second behind Zoulou’ today were Argo and Simon Delzoppo’s .film Racing in today’s first and second races respectively.

Venues for the 2018 GC32 Racing Tour will be announced shortly and will include several of the five in southern Europe the flying catamaran circuit has visited in 2017. Of the 2017 circuit, Jerome Clerc said: “It has been great. You have had everything – races where it is technical, like Riva where you have to know how to do foiling gybes, and then you have very tactical races in lighter winds – like Palma and here. Lots of boats could win races and the owner-drivers got some great results. We have enjoyed them all.”

Christian Scherrer, Manager of the GC32 Racing Tour concluded: “I would like to thank our partners, venues and especially all the teams that made the GC32 Racing Tour possible and here in Marseille – the City, Manfred Ramspacher and his team at Sirius Events as well as everybody helping at the event.”