North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: James Boyd

FOILING GC32 CATAMARANS PREPARE FOR MAR MENOR GRAND FINALE

2021 Mar Menor Cup Preview

© Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

The GC32 foiling catamarans will line up November 3rd for the fourth and final event in 2021 at the GC32 Mar Menor Cup. This grand finale represents the first time the flying multihulls have visited Spain’s famous 170km² salt water lagoon located near Cartagena on the Costa Calida, within the Autonomous Community of Murcia. The event is being supported by the Turismo Region Murcia, the Autoridad Portuaria de Cartagena and the local municipalities of San Pedro del Pinatar, Cartagena, San Javier and Los Alcázares.

The outcome of the GC32 Mar Menor Cup will decide the overall winner of the ninth season of the GC32 Racing Tour. 

© Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi is the current favorite to take home the title. With Arnaud Psarofaghis helming, the Swiss team won the two opening events of the season in Lagos, Portugal and were on track to defend their GC32 World Championship title in Villasimius, Sardinia, until the title was unexpectedly prised off them by Red Bull Sailing Team on the last leg of the final race. Nonetheless, going into the Mar Menor event Alinghi holds a solid three point lead over second placed Red Bull Sailing Team on the leaderboard. In addition, the Austrians are also on a roll and are keen to finish the 2021 season on a high note as this event marks the retirement of their skipper, Roman Hagara and his Olympic Tornado gold-medallist partner, Hans-Peter Steinacher.

The team most strongly on the ascent in 2021 has been Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team. Helmed by New Zealander Chris Steele, the Swiss team came close to winning the second event in Lagos at the end of July. “We made a big step forward this year and I hope we can continue,” said Zuerrer of their prospects. “We are still on the podium, but like at the Worlds, you can have a good day and be in front or have a bad day and be at the back.”

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© Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

As the season has progressed, the standard has risen across the fleet to the extent that all of the teams taking part are capable of winning races. Since Alinghi’s run-away debut to the season, all the events have been ultra-close.  “It makes for interesting racing when you are close together and everyone can beat each other,” continues Zuerrer. “Hopefully, that will help attract other owners and other teams.”

Another team to watch is Zoulou, with owner-driver Erik Maris, who neatly bookended the GC32 World Championship winning the first and the last race. Showing ever increasing potential is Nicolai Sehested’s Danish team on Team Rockwool Racing while American Jason Carroll’s Argo team comes race- ready to Murcia having just set an extraordinary new race record for the Rolex Middle Sea Race aboard the team’s MOD70 trimaran. 

The majority of the GC32 teams have not sailed or raced on the Mar Menor before. However being separated from the Mediterranean by a 22km long sandbar ranging in width from 100 to 1,200m, the lagoon can provide not just the optimum windy, flat water conditions but also high salinity water enabling the flying catamarans to achieve their highest speeds approaching 40 knots. 

The team with most experience of the lagoon is Alinghi, as they have previously spent time training here.  “It was really flat and we had good wind,” advises Alinghi’s Yves Detrey. “I have never seen anything this flat before. It is really good.”

Racing will take place out of San Pedro del Pinata on the Mar Menor’s northern corner, and will be hosted by Club Náutico Lo Pagán

The event is part of the Spanish celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of Ferninand Magellan, that was completed by Spanish navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano after Magellan was killed in battle in the Philippines.

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© Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour