Competition for the one design flying catamarans of the GC32 Racing Tour will take place over three events and two venues in 2023.
As it has done since 2016, the GC32 Racing Tour will start in Riva del Garda at what many consider is the ideal venue to race foiling sailboats. With its northern end nestled within the foothills of the Italian Alps, Lake Garda is renowned for its strong winds but it is the combination of wind and flat water that enables teams to achieve record speeds.
In past years several GC32 teams have reached 40 knots – warp speed for a 32ft long yacht.
The GC32 Riva Cup has one of the lake’s most experienced hosts when it comes to laying on racing in the Fraglia Vela Riva, in whose marina in the northernmost tip of Lake Garda, the GC32s will once again be berthed.
The GC32 Riva Cup also kicked off the GC32 Racing Tour in 2022 when it was convincingly won by an Arnaud Psarofaghis-steered Alinghi Red Bull Racing. Racing here in 2023 will take place from 24-28 May.Above: The race course for the GC32 Riva Cup has the stunning backdrop of the Italian Alps.
Below: Full fleet racing at the GC32 World Championship in Lagos, Portgual in 2022. Photos: Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour
Competition then continues in Lagos. While this harbour on Portugal’s Algarve coast was not known in yacht racing circles before the GC32 Racing Tour first visited in 2018, since then it has become a firm favourite with the GC32 teams.
Being in southern Portugal, albeit just 20 miles from Cape St Vincent, the southwesternmost tip of Europe, its sailing area is largely protected from Atlantic waves and the brunt of the prevailing northwesterly winds by the land. In optimum conditions, the waters in the bay off Lagos can provide strong winds and flat water but frequently the weather conditions are more irregular so teams must be prepared for anything.
While weather conditions are an attraction, the venue is popular because of the local support the GC32 Racing Tour and its teams receive from the City of Lagos and Tourism Portugal, plus Sopromar, Marina de Lagos and Clube de Vela de Lagos as well as the event’s ‘family atmosphere’ thanks to members of Clube de Vela de Lagos and its enthusiastic youth sailors.
As in 2022, two events will take place in Lagos, a ‘pre-Worlds’ over 21-25 June, culminating in the GC32 World Championship over 10-14 July. The GC32 remains the sole foiling boat permitted to run an official World Sailing-recognised World Championship and this is traditionally the event attracting the strongest turn out.
10 teams competed at last year’s GC32 World Championship. The reigning GC32 World Champion, Black Star Sailing Team is returning in 2023 with the hope of defending its title. Of the 2023 venues, Team Principal Christian Zuerrer says: “We know both places. It is always a pleasure to be in Riva. It is a nice location and a good club. Even if you know the side of the course you have to pick, it is not an easy place to sail. I am looking forward to being there – it has perfect foiling conditions.”
He continues of the Portuguese venue: “Of course, we have absolutely great memories of Lagos, after winning the GC32 World Championship there last year. We have been there a lot of times for training and for competition. It is always fine and we feel welcome there. It is the perfect spot with support from Sopramar and from Marina Club Lagos. For me it is interesting because the course is not always like a highway drive up and down, there can be tricky conditions and sometimes you can have strong wind conditions and sometimes light wind conditions. To win a race you have to be a good sailor in all of the conditions.”
Zuerrer remains enthusiastic about the GC32 and recommends it to anyone looking to make the step into foiling boats. “The GC32 is the best platform for sailors growing up in dinghies, small yachts or catamarans, or those who may be doing an Olympic campaign, who can then jump into the GC32 to prepare for SailGP or America’s Cup.”
President of the GC32 International Class Association, Simon Delzoppo is set to return again with his .film AUS Racing team. Delzoppo is enthusiastic about the GC32 Racing Tour’s Owner-Driver Championship and regularly sails with some of the best Aussie and Kiwi sailors in his crew. “2023 brings another year of great racing with a growing fleet of owners drivers, alongside the professional teams. We are all looking forward to some challenging sailing at some great venues as well as competing again for the 2023 GC32 World Championship title.”
The GC32 Racing Tour takes place with the support of partners Marinepool and GAC Pindar.
2023 GC32 Racing Tour
24 – 28 May: GC32 Riva Cup, Riva del Garda, Italy
21 – 25 June: GC32 Lagos Cup, Lagos, Portugal
10-14 July: GC32 Lagos World Championship, Lagos, Portugal