North Sails NEWS
Story Contributors: James Boyd
BLACK STAR WINS GC32 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN EXCITING FINALE
Christian Zuerrer Improves Upon 2021 Performance to Top the Podium
The GC32 World Championship in Lagos, Portugal, July 13-17, saw ten teams on the line to battle it out for the title. Three new teams joined the GC32 Racing Tour for its top event of the year: two newSailGP teams, K-Challenge Team France and Team Canada, as well as a new Polish campaign: Piotr Harasimowicz’s HRM Racing Team that would boost the owner-driver competition. Additionally, due to America’s Cup commitments, stand-out GC32 skipper, Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s Arnaud Psarofaghis, was unavailable to race the Worlds, handing it over to 24-year-old Maxime Bachelin. This leveled the playing field – would the contenders to the Swiss throne be Team Rockwool Racing or top owner-driver Erik Maris and Zoulou, who had podiumed in the pre-Worlds three weeks earlier?
Ultimately the field consisted of ten teams from seven nations competing at the GC32 Worlds, including Simon Delzoppo’s .film AUS Racing from Australia and USA’s Jason Carroll’s Argo, with Paul Goodison calling tactics.
Despite predictions, on the opening day there was a surprise stand-out team: the GC32 newbies on K-Challenge Team France, skippered by Nacra 17 Olympian Quentin Delapierre. The team scored three bullets in five races, despite the mix of reaching and upwind starts, with conditions that started light but built to 20 knots. The increased winds enabled the nimble flying catamarans to reach speeds up to 30 knots.
In the five races held the following day, the French SailGP team was again the lowest scoring team, and at the halfway point held a solid 10 point lead.
However at this point a new star was already on the ascent and it was Black. Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team is unique for being a privately-owned team with Zuerrer trimming main, leaving Kiwi match racer Chris Steele to helm. The team joined the GC32 Racing Tour in 2019 and stepped up to reach the podium in 2021. Day two of the GC32 World Championship saw this Swiss team win two races, however they struggled to find consistency, but this would not be the case for the final two days.
The second half of the Worlds was held mostly in sub-10 knot conditions yet still provided top level competition. At this point the GC32 World Championship became a two horse race between the French and Swiss and even Alinghi Red Bull Racing was struggling to keep up. Over the next seven races, the two previously mentioned stand-out teams won every race save one which was taken by Team Tilt, skippered by Sebastien Schneiter. It wasn’t until the penultimate race that Black Star Sailing Team took the lead overall, sealing the deal by winning the final race as a technical issue caused the French leaders to plummet to ninth. Black Star Sailing Team became the fourth GC32 World Champions as Erik Maris’ Zoulou won the Owner-Driver trophy.
“We are very proud of the association between the GC32 Racing Tour and North Sails, as its official supplier,” said Paul Westlake. “We are pleased to see this top level, high energy racing circuit for foiling catamarans continuing to thrive.”
The GC32 Racing Tour will conclude with its final 2022 event in October.