The teams that took part in the warm-up event for the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour held in Marseille from April 23rd to 26th have tested the new boat and measured themselves against their rivals. In Marseille’s beautiful harbour, Yann Guichard and his crew have thoroughly enjoyed the thrilling sensations of “gliding” aboard the GC32 catamaran hydrofoils in wind speeds exceeding 20 knots. The Spindrift racing crew were on the pace, winning several fantastic races. The season officially begins exactly one month from now in Austria, where the first Grand Prix event will be held on Traunsee lake from May 27th to 31st. Excited by this highly technical, exhilarating boat, Spindrift racing’s skipper tells us more.
Yann, can you describe how it felt when you first went airborne on the GC32?
“We took part in this test event on a boat that the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour organisers lent us while we are waiting for our catamaran to arrive in a few days’ time. It was a completely new experience for me at the helm and for the crew. Almost straight away, as soon as we experienced our first bearing off in 8-10 knot winds on a flat sea, the boat soared into the air and flew for several minutes. It’s wonderful. We were pleasantly surprised how stable the GC32 is when it flies. The boat is fantastic and it promises to be an exciting season."
Do GC32s require finesse, or power?
“Both. At the helm it feels like a racing car. You have to make small, precise, measured movements. Speed amplifies everything, making the boat very reactive. Make the slightest mistake and you’ll be thrown off the track. It reminded me of helming Spindrift 2, the world’s largest racing trimaran, in 40 knot winds. And you have to fly all the time, whatever speed you’re doing, even during the transition phases, so you need a very strong, well-drilled crew because it’s so physical, especially for managing the foils.”
There were four boats this weekend, including Armin Storm led by Chris Draper and some of his America’s Cup crew. Sébastien Rogues is starting his second season, while Alinghi, like Spindrift racing, is joining the circuit for the first time this season. Others will join you on the tour this year. How well are the boats performing at this stage, after the initial regattas?
“Chris Draper has bags of experience on flying boats, so obviously he’s very comfortable on them, but overall it looks like the competition is wide open. The fact that the boats take off so easily makes it a more level playing field. All the teams will soon be sailing at 80 or 90% of the optimum level, but closing that final gap will require a mammoth effort, many hours of sailing time and an excellent crew."
Briefly, why would you say the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour is ideal for Spindrift racing?
“The event really suits our team. Flying boats are the future of sailing. The GC32 is very important to Spindrift racing, because it is a technological boat, requiring a high level of performance. The regattas are held throughout Europe, which benefits our partners Mirabaud, Genes-x and Zenith, as well as for our suppliers. Finally, the circuit is accessible in terms of the cost and the competition. I hope that will encourage other teams to participate.”
Spindrift GC32 crew:
Yann Guichard, skipper
2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour schedule:
May 27-31: Austria Cup - Traunsee lake, Austria
June 24-27: Cowes Cup - Cowes, UK
July 30 - August 2: GC32 Sailing Cup Kiel - Germany
August 27-30: Trofeo di Roma - Rome Fiumicino, Italy
September 30 - October 3: Marseille One Design - Marseille, France
For more informations: www.gc32racing.com