First Japanese GC32 Racing Tour victory

By James on 05 Aug. 2017

Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! successfully defended its position today to win the GC32 Racing Tour competition at 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE. It was the first occasion the Japanese team has won an event on the GC32 Racing Tour since joining in Malcesine last year.

Despite another uncertain forecast, conditions were near-perfect on the Bay of Palma with flat water and winds that at times touched 15 knots, the strongest of the four day competition. This made for adrenalin-filled foiling for the ten flying catamarans.

Kamei was delighted as a mix of champagne, beer and water flew around the deck as his blue GC32 docked close to the Real Club Nautico de Palma. Their local tactician Manu Weiller said: “It went very good today – it’s our first victory on the Tour. It’s our third Copa del Rey and we won here two years ago with the same crew on a TP52.”

Jason Carroll’s Argo was let down by an OCS in today’s first race that saw them finish last, however the GC32 Villasimius Cup winner managed to retain second place overall Top performer of the day was the Jêrome Clerc-skippered Realteam, winner of today’s second race. The Swiss team ended up tied up on points, but won the tie break for third against Pierre Casiraghi’s Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco.

Aside from Kamei and Weiller, Mamma Aiuto!’s crew is international including long term GC32 sailor Diego Stefani from Uruguay, Swede Jakob Gustaffson and young Japanese cat sailor Federico Sampei, recently with the Japanese Red Bull Youth America’s Cup team.

Sampei was pleased by their victory: “It is awesome. I’ve been sailing on this boat for one and a half years. I’m very grateful to our owner Kamei-san and the others because they really taught me how to sail her. They brought me to the level I’m at today.”

Victory came very close to slipping through their fingers. As Weiller explained: “We had an issue in one of the starts when Zoulou ran into us and made a big hole in our stern one minute from the start. We only had five minutes to make repairs. It was okay, but if they had hit the rudder, that would have been us out.”

Zoulou picked up a three point penalty for this incident, but consoled themselves with winning the ANONIMO Speed Challenge and an Anonimo Nautilo watch. French skipper Eric Maris was pleased with his new wrist-wear and being back in the GC32 for the first time since Key West in spring 2015. “I hadn’t sailed for more than two years and it’s completely different now. Before there were only four of us and the way of sailing the boats was just not the same. Since then the level has gone up incredibly and the fleet is much better.”

Maris praised his crew: “We’ve needed to get the group together. The boat is good and the crew is a talented bunch and I tried not to slow them as much as possible. We have improved over the four days of racing. We even won a race yesterday. We will try and improve for the next one.” Zoulou will be competing at the two final events of the season in Calvi, Corsica and Marseille.

Putting in the fastest run today in the ANONIMO Speed Challenge was another GC32 Racing Tour newbie, Australia Simon Delzoppo and his .film Racing. “The wind came up today and it was excellent,” said Delzoppo. “The boys have been settling in and we’ve had a lot of fun. It has been pretty intense competition. Today we were honking along at times. It is a bit of a learning curve but we are happy with our results.” Delzoppo says that they will put in some more training and boat development time the week before Calvi.

The competition in Palma had two more first time winners today with Sebastien Rogues’ Team ENGIE making the best of the snakes and ladders conditions to claim race one, while, appropriately it was Movistar, skippered by Spanish sailing hero Iker Martinez that claimed the final race. Across 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE eight of the ten GC32s have scored race wins, indicating the closeness of the competition.

Prizes for Copa del Rey are to be presented by King Felipe VI of Spain by Palma’s cathedral this evening.