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GC32s beat all but a MOD 70 in the Round the Island Race - Team ARGO blasts away from the Needles
After the slowest race last year, the GC32s performed admirably in this morning’s spectacular JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

Four of the high speed one design foiling catamarans took part in today’s 50 mile anti-clockwise lap of the Isle of Wight, the annual race run by the Island Sailing Club this year attracting 1584 entries. ARMIN STROM Sailing Team, Flavio Marazzi’s winner yesterday of the Cowes Cup, chose not to compete today.

Conditions could not have been better for the GC32s, with brilliant sunshine and 12-15 knot winds from the west south-west.

The GC32s were part of today’s second start, setting off from the Royal Yacht Squadron line at 0710 BST, 10 minutes after the big monohulls. Upwind in the Western Solent, by the time they had reached Yarmouth, nine miles in, they had picked off all but the fastest monohulls as the lead continually swapped between Sultanate of Oman, Alinghi and ENGIE.

At the Needles, Sultanate of Oman was ahead, but with just one minute separating the four boats.

For the GC32s the second leg, a run down to the southernmost tip of the island, St Catherine's Point, provided the biggest ‘yeehaas’ as the nimble flying catamarans overhauled the 100ft monohull Leopard and even closed on the MOD 70 trimaran Concise 10. By the time the boats reached St Catherine’s, Alinghi had edged into the lead but Sultanate of Oman had managed to sail lower than her.

After the gybe off St Catherine’s onto the third leg up the southeastern side of the island, the crews began to struggle. As America’s Cup helmsman Paul Campbell-James, standing in for an injured Leigh McMillan on Sultanate of Oman, observed: “We were going straight down the waves and we just couldn’t stop the boat - it was full on! We had to back off and sail deep. Occasionally we’d get on the back of a wave, we’d start foiling and the kite would start flapping. And we had some massive nosedives - big enough so that we would be fully underwater and get thrown forwards.”

By Bembridge, at the eastern end of the island, it became apparent they would not be able to catch the MOD70, nor better the Ben Ainslie Racing AC45 catamaran’s record from two years ago.

Hardening up on to the wind returning into the Solent, Sultanate of Oman held the advantage over Alinghi as they passed between the Napoleonic forts, but by Ryde they were at each other’s throats again.

As Alinghi skipper Ernesto Bertarelli explained: “We were in front a couple of miles from the line. We played the shift and came back – it was match racing! I wish we had tacked to control - we believed in the left, but the right paid off.”

This allowed Sultanate of Oman home first; Alinghi less than a minute astern. “We weren’t more than a minute away from them for the whole race,” observed Paul Campbell-James. “I hope the America’s Cup is as exciting as this!”

Despite being beaten, Ernesto Bertarelli thoroughly enjoyed his third lap of the Isle of Wight. “It is a great course. I still think we should have gone between the Needles!” In fact the boats did take the ‘brave’ option of passing between the Needles and the wreck that lies off it.

ENGIE came home third, skipper Sebastien Rogues commenting: “The Round the Island was fun. It was cool to do this race. In 14-15 knots, it was very exciting, but the GC32 prefers inshore races. Only the MOD70 finished ahead of us, but in a northerly we could have been as quick and even broken the record.”

American two time Melges 32 World Champion Jason Carroll came home fourth among the GC32s, just five and a half minutes behind the winner. “After all the build-up, I expected it to be hairier than it was!” said a salt-encrusted Carroll as he arrived back in Cowes’ Venture Quays. “It was certainly survival conditions at times and we had a couple of bruises from when we plunged the bow in around the back side. The weather was beautiful and it was cool rounding so close to the Needles.”

As to his first regatta on the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour Carroll said: “I would do this again and I would certainly do a three day series here again in the GC32. I love the boat and I loved it even before racing it. It has definitely made me realise that to be competitive in the boat I need to put in some more practice.”
From here the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour moves on to the Kiel Cup over 30th July-2nd August.

Finish times (elapsed time)

1 Sultanate of Oman 11:00:31 (03:50:31_
2. Alinghi 11:01:27 (03:51:27)
3. Team ENGIE 11:03:47 (03:53:47)
4. Team ARGO 11:06:06 (03:56:06)

For more information on the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour, see www.gc32racing.com

About the GC32 Racing Tour

The GC32 is a 10m long (12m including bowsprit) by 6m wide foiling catamaran designed by Dr Martin Fischer.

Fischer has previously been behind the leading Capricorn, Hobie Wildcat and Phantom F18 catamaran designs and was part of the design teams behind the Groupama ORMA 60, maxi-trimaran, VO70s and Groupama C C-Class catamaran. He is a designer for the Luna Rossa Challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.

With structural engineering carried out by Brett Ellis (ex-Alinghi/Luna Rossa), the boat is built in carbon fibre throughout by Premier Composite Technology in Dubai, builder of the Carkeek 40HP, 47HP and 60 and the Farr 400.

The foils are manufactured by Heol Composites in France: The GC32 features T-foil rudders and J-shaped daggerboards/foils, similar in concept to those used on the AC72 America’s Cup catamarans. However relative to the size of the boat, the foils are substantially larger, allowing the GC32 to foil even in low wind speeds and with much great stability and ease. Despite having big foils, the GC32 has already recorded a top speed of 37.9 knots.

Unlike the AC catamarans the boat features a more manageable soft-sail rig with one design sails from North Sails France, carbon fibre spars from Southern Spars and composite standing rigging from Easyrigging.

The boat is demountable with a two piece mast for easy transportation.

GC32 Racing Tour 2015

27-31 May: Austria Cup - Lake Traunsee, Austria
24-27 June: Cowes Cup - Cowes, UK
29 July-2 August: Kiel, Germany
27-30 August: Rome Cup - Fiumicino, Rome, Italy
30 September-3 October: Marseille One Design - Marseille, France

Read more about the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour at: www.gc32racing.com or see our promo video

About Bullitt Group

Founded in 2009 by Colin Batt, David Floyd and Richard Wharton, the Bullitt Group designs, manufactures, markets and sells consumer electronic devices in partnership with global brands. It is the worldwide licensee of Caterpillar Inc. for ‘rugged’ mobile devices and accessories, Kodak for easy-to-use smartphones and connected devices and Ministry of Sound and Ted Baker for audio products. Based in Reading, UK, Bullitt’s products are sold in more than 60 countries and the company has a presence in key markets across the globe including Taiwan, Taipei, the UK and the USA.

Bullitt Group has a simple yet clever business model. It works with well-established, global brands to develop, manufacture and sell much-needed products to under-served market areas. Understanding and applying the DNA of those brands is fundamental to Bullitt’s approach. The relationship between Bullitt and each brand is built on a deep trust and a strong desire by both parties to remain true to the brand values.

More on Bullitt Group can be found at www.bullitt-group.com

Photo : ©: Sander van der Borch / Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour
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