Realteam on top after breezy opening day in Calvi

 

Big breeze out on the Bay of Calvi. Photo: Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

 

GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup

 

Day one the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, penultimate event on the 2017 GC32 Racing Tour, dawned magnificently with light winds and a warm sun on the Bay of Calvi. But as the morning progressed the wind and swell had grown to Volvo Ocean Race proportions and were in a generally vicious mood. Despite this, the local race management team and Principal Race Officer Stuart Childerley, successfully managed to fire off two races, albeit hair-raising ones, on an often foam-filled course.

Anticipating such conditions, crews had been warned to prepare for an early start with racing beginning at 1000 hrs, three hours earlier than scheduled.

Already by the time racing started the wind was above 20 knots and a swell had formed, big enough to cause the GC32s to disappear occasionally into the troughs. The right of the race course was generally worse, being on the open ocean side, while the top mark was laid in the shadow of Calvi’s impressive Citadel.

Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco scored a fine win in the opening race, with former America’s Cup skipper Sébastien Col standing in on the helm today for Pierre Casiraghi.

“We have a strong team and the guys did a good job with good manoeuvres and boat speed,” said Col. “We sailed quite conservatively and didn’t push too much. It was pretty tough, especially on starboard downwind when we were sailing into the waves. For that, we have ‘skimming mode’, with less rake angle but allowing more play of the foil tip to help keep the bows out.”

Unfortunately, in the second race, Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco snared the windward mark and lost places trying to disentangle themselves. This race went to overall GC32 Racing Tour leader Realteam, skippered by Jérôme Clerc. In this race the Swiss team finished narrowly ahead of Jason Carroll’s Argo, being helmed here by American Anthony Kotoun. Of today’s racing, Kotoun said: “Our boat saw a sustained 23-24 knots and more in the gusts. The wind is important, but the real issue was that the sea state on starboard gybe was pretty bad. Today we were not making calls versus other boats, we were making calls about how to get around the course in a seamanlike way. It was fun, but I think I have a little bit of an evil personality as part of me enjoys it a little bit. But safety is paramount in these situations.”

Before racing started Erik Maris’ Zoulou buried her bow into the back of a big wave and capsized. Unfortunately, in the incident, two of her crew sustained injuries. They were rapidly taken ashore and on to the hospital. The boat was towed back into Calvi Marina and righted by a crane at the dock. Her mast was broken in the incident.

Of racing in today’s big conditions, 2015 GC32 Racing Tour winning skipper Leigh McMillan, here racing on Simon Delzoppo’s film Racing, said: “It was slightly above the top end probably to race because we were going around the course almost in survival mode. But we found a nice safe mode to get around without being too far behind the fleet.”

Oddly this was one of the few occasions that the GC32s were actively trying not to get flying. As McMillan continued: “We were trying just to keep the boat steady, tracking along and get the manoeuvres in safely and finish the day the right way up. We played with the rake of the foils and we were kind of semi-foiling most of the time.”

After two races the boats were sent back into Calvi Marina and soon after racing was suspended for the day.

Leader at the end of the day one is Realteam with a 2-1 scoreline, three points ahead of Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco.

 

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