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Zoulou holds GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup local knowledge advantage

by GC32 Racing Tour on 12 Sep 13-16 September 2017
Erik Maris' Zoulou, the local favourite in Calvi © Jesus Renedo / GC32 Racing Tour

GC32 Racing Tour crews competing at their penultimate event, the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup in Calvi, are going to have to hold on to their hats of this week. Mistral winds and flat water in the protected Bay of Calvi are set to provide potentially record breaking conditions for the one design flying catamarans.

This is the first major sailing event Calvi has hosted in a decade and is already creating waves within the local community and press.

Two French teams are competing, Sebastien Rogues's Team ENGIE and Erik Maris' Zoulou, which includes Corsican sailor Nicolas Heintz (right). "It's exciting to have the GC32 Racing Tour coming here to my island," said Heintz, who lives in Ajaccio. "The Bay of Calvi is really nice for foiling cats because the water is flat and there is some wind. I hope we will have good racing and also promote sailing in Corsica. A lot of kids came when we were rigging our boats and it is cool for people here to see some really nice racing boats. Corsican people are more interested in football and nature, so I hope sailing will become more popular because this is an island and we have a lot of nice bays."

Also, Zoulou's mainsheet trimmer Thierry Fouchier is one of the few GC32 crew to have competed in Calvi before, with the ORMA 60 circuit more than a decade ago.

Personally Zoulou's owner Erik Maris has only ever visited Calvi as a tourist. "It is a pretty tight race area and the town is wonderful, surrounding by the mountains." Maris hopes to improve upon his ANONIMO Speed Challenge winning time from last month's Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Given the brisk forecast, a new record is likely for the speed trials which, as usual, will involve two reaching legs and gybe.

Realteam skipper Jérôme Clerc says Calvi feels like home. "With mountains and flat water, it is like Switzerland with salt water. And it's warm." Realteam currently leads the GC32 Racing Tour, a tenuous two points ahead of Jason Carroll's Argo. "We are leading, but the guys behind, like Argo and Mamma Aiuto!, are pushing very hard. Now we will start thinking more about the Championship." Clerc says he is not worried about this week's windy conditions. In these they set the Blue Riband record across Lake Geneva. Yesterday they were out in 30 knots.

For the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup, Jason Carroll, due to other commitments, has handed over helming duties aboard Argo to Anthony Kotoun, whose job is being filled by Morgan Larson. "It is nice to be back," said Larson, who previously shared the helm on Alinghi with Ernesto Bertarelli, finishing second overall in 2015. As to how the GC32 Racing Tour has changed since, he observes: "The owner-driver teams are really awesome. Jason has taken it straight on. The Japanese guys looked great out there when it was fresh. I was pessimistic about their safety, but it looks like it is going great."

Holding second place in the Owner-Driver Championship behind Argo, Pierre Casiraghi's Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco has been on the ascent this season. Her crew is intent upon improving. "I am very happy we are going to Corsica. It is a second home for me - Calvi is very close to Monaco, I have been there since I was a kid many times," said Casiraghi.

Mamma Aiuto! skippered by Japan's Naofumi Kamei won the last event on the GC32 Racing Tour, Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Mainsheet trimmer/tactician, Manu Weiller said: "Copa del Rey MAPFRE was our main goal for the season. It is hard to say if we can repeat that. There are expectations. I think every week is a different story. It depends on conditions. It is a new story here - but why not?!"

Newer to the game is Australian Simon Delzoppo and Racing. Enjoying the surroundings. "We're only going to have half a day of training in prior to racing, which isn't ideal, but Calvi is a great town and the sailing arena looks fantastic. It will be flat water, offshore wind and there will be plenty of space for us. We hope to build up our confidence this week."

The GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup is taking place with the support of local mineral water company, Orezza, the city of Calvi and the Collectivité Territoriale de Corse (CTC) and CTC subsidiary Tourism Corse Agency.

Racing at the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup will run over 13-16th September.

Teams competing at the GC32 Orezza Corsica Cup:

  • Argo - Jason Carroll (USA)
  • .film Racing - Simon Delzoppo (AUS)
  • Malizia – Yacht Club de Monaco - Pierre Casiraghi (MON)
  • Mamma Aiuto! - Naofumi Kamei (JAP)
  • Realteam - Jérôme Clerc (SUI)
  • Team ENGIE - Sebastien Rogues (FRA)
  • Zoulou - Erik Maris (FRA)

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