Two way fight for 2017 GC32 Racing Tour title

By on 05 Oct. 2017

Marseille One Design, the grand finale of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour takes place next week and will be the deciding event of the European circuit for ultra-high speed foiling one design catamarans. This will be the fourth consecutive year the annual GC32 Racing Tour championship has concluded off France’s second city.

Going into Marseille One Design, the fight for first place is now between two teams – present leader of the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc, and Argo of two time Melges 32 World Champion, Jason Carroll. So far this season Realteam has won two events, the GC32 Riva Cup and last month’s GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup in Calvi, while Argo beat Realteam at the GC32 Villasimius Cup and at the 36th Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Argo finished second at Marseille One Design in 2016. Going into next week’s deciding event, the Swiss hold a slender two point lead over the US team.

“I am looking forward to the race, because in Calvi we had a good preview to it: We had some great match racing with Argo and I think it will be the same in Marseille. At worst we have to finish just behind them,” says Clerc, who is eager to be back racing the GC32 in Marseille once again.

Mathematically there is an outside chance that third placed Mamma Aiuto! of Naofumi Kamei could relieve Argo of second place, but realistically the Japan team should be looking over its shoulder. Currently three points behind in fourth, Sebastien Rogues and his crew on Team ENGIE will be racing on home waters and are hungry to achieve their objective of a podium finish on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour.

If positions on the overall leaderboard are firming up, this is entirely not the case in the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour owner driver championship. Here the top three boats – ARGO, Mamma Aiuto! and Pierre Casiraghi’s Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco – are within one point of each other.

Following their capsize in Calvi, Zoulou will return for Marseille One Design, but with Arnaud Psarofaghis taking over helming duties from owner Erik Maris for this event. Psarofaghis has considerable experience of the GC32 being the stand-in helmsman for Ernesto Bertarelli on the Alinghi team, from where he is on loan. With most of the Zoulou crew coming from Groupama Team France, Psarofaghis is well known to them, having called tactics for the French America’s Cup team in the first year of the America’s Cup World Series.

Zoulou holds the advantage of having among them America’s Cup veteran and multihull expert Thierry Fouchier, who was born in Marseille and has lived there all his life. “For me it is a great arena for sailing,” says Fouchier. “You can sail there even in a strong easterly, like the Mistral. You are close to the famous Corniche and the beach, which is where the spectators will be for the Olympic Games and it’s close to town. It will be really cool.”

Throughout Marseille One Design, further rounds of the ANONIMO Speed Challenge will be held. Introduced for 2017, this involves competitors achieving the highest average speed over two reaching legs, with a gybe in between. It also provides corporate guests with the rare opportunity to experience the high octane environment aboard a flying catamaran travelling at maximum speed.

The winner of the ANONIMO Speed Challenge for 2017 will receive a Anonimo Nautilo GC32 Racing Tour edition watch, especially finished in the black and yellow colours of the GC32 logo. Coming with a robust automatic movement and waterproof to 200m, this watch is limited to 17 pieces, each especially engraved and numbered.

Racing will take place on Marseille’s Rade Sud, directly off Corniche du Président-John-Fitzgerald-Kennedy and the Prado beach. The GC32 Racing Tour fleet will be moored in the Marina Roucas Blanc. Marseille One Design will be first event hosted in the future Olympic Marina following confirmation last month of Paris’ successful bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024. This year Marseille is also European capital of sport and has been the venue for a huge program of sports events of which Marseille One Design is part.

Manfred Ramspacher, whose company Sirius Events runs Marseille One Design, welcomed the GC32 Racing Tour to Marseille: “Once again, and for a fourth year, Marseille will host the grand finale of the GC32 Racing Tour at Marseille One Design. With the Olympic Games on the horizon in 2024, the event brings to Marseille some of the elite of European and international sailing, many former Olympic medallists, whose presence in past years has contributed to the international image of Marseille as a venue for high level competition in this sport.”