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GC32 Villasimius Cup - Overall

by GC32 Racing Tour 27 May 07:15 BST 23-26 May 2019
2019 GC32 Racing Tour - Villasimius Cup © Sailing Energy / GC32 Racing Tour

The GC32 Villasimius Cup has a worthy winner in Oman Air supported by EFG Private Bank Monaco, but her lead of nine points as the ten flying catamarans returned to Marina di Villasimius this afternoon was no reflection of the competition's closeness. Today the Omanis may once again have been lowest scorers, but Alinghi and INEOS Rebels UK were only one and two points behind. This situation would have been markedly different too had these two teams not been called OCS in the final race, in which they finished seventh and eighth respectively.

"We had a really good day of solid racing and we came back to within four points of Oman Air before the last race," said Nicolas Charbonnier, the 470 Olympic bronze medallist, now Alinghi's main trimmer/tactician.

The main feature of the day was the overcast sky and torrential rain combined with intense gusts due to the northerly wind blowing across mountainous southeast Sardinia. In one race, wind speed ranged from 9 to 23 knots. However it was a day of high adrenalin reaching starts.

Ben Ainslie's INEOS Rebels UK got out of the blocks strongly in Villasimius' uncharacteristic 'British' weather, relieving Jason Carroll's Argo of the lead in race one to finish ahead of Alinghi and Oman Air, thereby setting the tone of the day.

"It was a funny old day - we were Code Zero up, down and struggling with jib choices every race," commented Giles Scott, the INEOS Rebels UK tactician/main trimmer.

In fact INEOS Rebels UK was called OCS in the last two races, but in the penultimate one, when Red Bull Sailing Team was also penalised, both teams recovered superbly, finishing third and second respectively. "It is shame we didn't finish it off with a good one," continued Scott. "Otherwise we were really happy with the way we sailed. It was nip and tuck racing, against very good teams. It really justifies our decision to do this circuit."

INEOS Rebels UK led for the first lap in today's second race but was overhauled by Alinghi on the first beat, with Argo again doing well to take third. Alinghi won this race, and also race four after winning the start and leading into the reaching mark. "It was not easy to sail, but it was the same for everyone," said Nicolas Charbonnier. "We had good fun, but we have a few little things we can still improve."

After a strong start to the event, Franck Cammas and NORAUTO had a Saturday the Volvo Ocean Race and Route du Rhum winner would rather forget and a decidedly mixed Sunday, the French team's bullets in the third and final races surrounded by deep results.

Cammas commented: "We had some good races, which means we have the necessary speed and the right boat handling to win, but we're not consistent enough. We need to make some details better and avoid making mistakes. Today we started well twice, and that was when we did well. Our upwind starts are good enough, but we can do much better on the reaching starts."

Adam Minoprio squelched ashore wet and shivering slightly, but otherwise delighted. He has previously won many GC32 Racing Tour events even the very first back on Lake Traunsee in 2013, plus several when he helped NORAUTO win the GC32 title in 2016, but this was his first event as helm for Oman Air. "We are very pleased we managed to win against some very strong teams who have sailed a lot together. We've been very consistent and really pushed hard," he said.

Of today's competition Minoprio said: "It was another tough day. We were hoping the breeze would settle, but it turned out the rain clouds were putting big puffs and shifts on the course. There was a lot of changing gears between the J1 and J2 and wind shifts of about 60 degrees. It was really unstable, so you had to get good starts, then keep an eye on the shifts, because people were going from the back to the front in all the trickiness."

The Kiwi ex-Match Racing World Champion added that with their eight point lead going into today, they had sailed conservatively. "We wanted to make sure Ineos and Alinghi didn't get much leverage on us, but we only stuck to them like glue in the last two races."

Erik Maris and Zoulou had a mixed week, but did enough to finish four points ahead of Jason Carroll's Argo to claim the GC32 Villasimius Cup Owner Driver Championship.

This event was the first on the GC32 Racing Tour for Black Star Sailing Team from Switzerland. Despite finishing at the bottom of the leaderboard, owner Christian Zuerrer said he enjoyed it immensely: "We have been on a steep learning curve. We came closer together as a team. We have been able to play with the big guys and so far we are happy. We are little bit disappointed that we lost, but it was a great event."

The GC32 Villasimius Cup is taking place with support from Comune di Villasimius, Area Marina Protetta Capo Carbonara Villasimius, the Lega Navale Italiana Sezione Villasimius and the Regione Sardegna.

Second event of the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour will be the GC32 World Championship, taking place in Lagos, Portugal over 26-30 June.

The GC32 Racing Tour is supported by Marinepool, WIP Forward and GAC Pindar.

Final Day & Overall Results:

PosTeamR12R13R14R15R16Pts
1Oman Air3325244
2Alinghi2151753
3INEOS Rebels UK1233860
4NORAUTO6618167
5Red Bull Sailing Team4862988
6Zoulou710444100
7Argo5510106104
8Código Rojo Racing109763114
9CHINAone NINGBO84995120
10Black Star Sailing Team978710131

Owner-Driver Final Day & Overall Results:

PosTeamR 12R 13R 14R 15R 16Tot
1Zoulou710444100
2Argo5510106104
3Alinghi1010101010126

Full results here.

Team Oman Air get their new racing campaign off to winning start

Team Oman Air got their GC32 Racing Tour season off to the best possible start with victory at the opening event of 2019, the GC32 Villasimius Cup in Sardinia.

Racing in sometimes tricky and difficult conditions the Oman Air crew showed their mettle in a highly competitive 10-strong fleet of high-speed foiling catamarans to claim the first round by a clear nine points in front of the pursuing pack.

The win marked a successful debut for the new-look Team Oman Air crew, which has seen established team members Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari and Stewart Dodson joined by the highly-rated New Zealand helmsman Adam Minoprio as skipper and the experienced British sailor Adam Piggott.

"We are a new team and trying hard, and we have been able to find some areas that are definite strengths," said Greenhalgh, Team Oman Air's project manager, mainsail trimmer and tactician. "We had a great team on paper and it all came good for us.

"We are really good downwind and our manoeuvres have also been good, and we have been competitive upwind as well.

"It's also been working really well between Adam Minoprio and I, calling the tactics and getting the boat going in the right direction, so we are really pleased that that's worked out as well as it has we are nicely in synch which is how it should be."

After sharing the early lead with defending GC32 champions NORAUTO, led by French ace Franck Cammas, the determined Oman Air team built the foundations for their ultimate success with a hat-trick of race victories on the third of four days of racing.

Going into Sunday's final races the crew held an eight point advantage, a lead they were able to maintain despite persistent pressure from the chasing pack, notably Ernesto Bertarelli's Swiss team on Alinghi and multiple Olympic gold medal winner Ben Ainslie's crew on INEOS Rebels UK, who took second and third places respectively on the overall podium. Victory was sealed with a second place in the 16th and final race of the regatta.

"It has rained non-stop for the last few days and we have had a lot of wind at times, with quite shifty difficult conditions but we somehow managed to get the racing in," said Greenhalgh of the unseasonal weather.

"We struggled in a couple of races today and slipped back a little, but we held on for a really good result and we are of course happy with that."

Also delighted was Al Mashari, a regular with the Oman Sail organised team. He said: "It has been good to have done so well at the start of our GC32 Racing Tour campaign. The other teams are very competitive and we know they will come back strong throughout the season.

"There is a long way to go, but we are a good team and we will be trying our hardest to get a good result at every event."

Team Oman Air also supported by EFG Private Bank Monaco will be back in action at the end of June with the second event on the GC32 Racing Tour schedule in Lagos, southern Portugal, from June 26-30.

Red Bull Sailing wraps up wild GC32 Racing Tour debut in fifth

Winds, rain and boat-to-boat contact welcomed Red Bull Sailing into its first season in the GC32 Racing Tour on 22-26 May, as the opener in Villasimius, Sardinia, Italy featured conditions that were almost as tough as the fleet of competitors the strongest opening-regatta roster in the tour's history.

Led by double Olympic champions Roman Hagara (skipper/helm) and Hans Peter Steinacher (tactician), the Austrian boat finished in a strong fifth place, a promising start as their new team gels. Oman Air won the act to take the early lead in the five-stop series, with double America's Cup winner Alinghi (SUI) in second and Sir Ben Ainslie's INEOS Rebels UK clinching third.

Here's everything you need to know:

  • The Extreme Sailing Series has combined with the GC32 Racing Tour this season, and the 10 teams contending in the 2019 Villasimius Cup featured not only Olympic and America's Cup champions, but Match Racing and Volvo Ocean Race winners as well. The next-level lineup produced no-holds-barred action across 16 races at the Sardinian holiday destination.
  • "Hans Peter and I are super happy with the start of our campaign," said Hagara. "The new crew is really getting into it, and we're working well together already. We see high potential for this season." On board the Red Bull Sailing GC32 with Hagara and Steinacher were Australians Rhys Mara (trimmer) and Mark Spaermann (board trimmer), as well as Sweden's Julius Hallström (bowman).
  • Two-time America's Cup winner Jimmy Spithill, now a team member of Luna Rossa's campaign for the next America's Cup, joined Red Bull Sailing on Sunday's rough waters, supporting Hagara, Steinacher and the crew from the coach boat.
  • Weather was the 11th opponent on the course: After nearly calm conditions allowed only one completed race on Opening Day, Day Two served up gusts that took the catamarans flying on their foils at speeds up to 50 knots (93 km/h, 58 mph). Boats battled through a chilling rain on Day Three, only to have Mother Nature turn up the difficulty even more with thunder, torrential downpours and 20-knot gusts in Sunday's closing races.
  • On Friday, Red Bull Sailing was involved in one of the regatta's most dramatic moments: As the 10 boats sped around the course at high speed, Red Bull Sailing and Zoulou (FRA) desperately tried to avoid a collision but couldn't avert a clash of rigs, with the masthead wind instruments sheared off the Austrian boat. On-the-water umpires gave Zoulou a two-point penalty.
  • The GC32 is a 10m long (12m including bowsprit) foiling catamaran built in carbon fiber, and the tour's course configurations are similar to those used in the America's Cup, with an emphasis on allowing the boats to reach their maximum speeds. The regatta in Sardinia was the first of five venues on the 2019 calendar, which will conclude, for the first time, outside Europe at a venue to be announced.
  • Next up: Red Bull Sailing will go for the GC32 World Championship at the second stop of the GC32 Racing Tour, when Act 2 flies in Lagos, Portugal on 26-30 June 2019.

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