Tuesday, 28 April 2009
GP42s. Supplied image.
Final preparations are underway among the six teams competing in the GP 42 Series for Stage One of the upcoming 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit. The field is diverse yet competitive, with both new teams and established teams hailing from Europe and Asia getting ready to converge for racing in 3 weeks in Alicante.
by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson
“Our teams are very excited and eager to start racing,” said GP42 Manager Paolo Massarini. “They have been working on their boats and forming up their teams in expectation of a very high level of competition.”
Like their larger bretheren the TP 52’s, the GP 42’s are a highly-competitive evolutionary box-rule class, where the boats must measure to within narrow design tolerances to comply to class rules for level racing. However, these tolerances do allow for subtle differences between boats, which in the hands of clever designers and sailors can be exploited to optimize performance. So many teams have spent the past winter making changes to their boats to optimize for this year based new ideas on what they learned from last season’s racing, upgrades to their sails and equipment, and how they think the race conditions may be different in this year’s MedCup venues.
On Filippo Faruffini’s Italian-based Farr design Roma 2, for example, even though the boat was new for last year incisions were made to the hull’s stern section and the boat narrowed aft in order to reduce wetted surface and enhance light air performance. On José María van der Ploeg’s Spanish Turismo Madrid, this 2007 Botin & Carkeek design will have a new mast and other modifications which “will be made public later,” according to the team. And on Roberto Monti’s Italian-based Airis, designed by Umberto Felci, the team is opting to work with a sailmaker new to the GP 42s, Olimpic Sails, because “they are very keen to give their full devotion to get a good product to use for the limited sail buttons allowed in this class,” said skipper Cameron Appleton.
But when modifications to the existing boat simply won’t be enough, then why not get something entirely new? This is the approach made by Daniel Calero and his Islas Canarias Puerto Calero team, who later this week are due to launch their new boat, designed by Botin & Carkeek.
Said Calero, “After two years of experience in this class we are very excited to start the MedCup with a brand new boat, and to be as competitive as possible. We have being practicing during the winter in Puerto Calero and we will launch the new boat on 25 April. The MedCup circuit is going to be a big success and we are very proud to be involved.”
Besides these changes in hardware, there are also changes in software, as some teams have opted to bring in new talent to compete in this year’s circuit events and one team is entirely new to the boat and the series.
Airis is coming into the Audi MedCup with a new team managed by mainsail trimmer Cesar Bressan and led by helmsman Cameron Appleton, a veteran of two America’s Cups for Team New Zealand and the Areva Challenge. The remainder of their team’s roster will be announced soon.
The 2007 Botin & Carkeek design Caser-Endesa owned by Javier Goizcueta has a new sponsor in Endesa, and will be skippered by Juan Luis Paez who will be guided by tactician Ángel Medina. The remainder of the team includes Javier Goizueta Grasset, Bosco Fernández Cataño, Sergio Llorca López, Valentín Fernández Cataño, Diego Torrado González, Juan Castañeda González, José Romero Berenguer, and José Luis Domecq.
Turismo Madrid’s van der Ploeg, an Olympic Gold Medalist in the Finn class from the 1992 Games in Barcelona, has signed on another Finn Olympic Medalist, Rafael Trujillo, to be his tactician on this 2007 B&C design. Half of this team is new this year, and includes veterans of the Desafio Espanol AC team and the TP 52 Caixa Galicia. Joining van der Ploeg and Trujillo will be Carlos Freire, German Panei, Robin Imaz, Ruben Castells, Iñigo Exanitz, Carlos Rui Gomez and Cristóbal Piris.
And the newest team to the GP 42’s comes to the Audi MedCup from the furthest distance, as owner Keisuke Suzuki has assembled an experienced team from Japan to assist him on his newly-acquired ’07 B&C design Swing (ex-Telefonica). While new to the GP 42’s, this team has been competing successfully for over a decade in many high-profile inshore and offshore events in the Pacific, the US, and Europe. Assisting Suzuki tactically will be Tatsuya Wakinaga and in strategy Kenichi Nakamura, with the other team members including Akihiro Kana, Takumi Nakamura, Shiro Uemura, Shiro Uemura, Yoichi Kawakami, Seitaro Shinkai, Natsumi Sato and Norio Igei.
But for some teams continuity is more important, and so there have been few changes to their roster. These include Filippo Faruffini’s Roma 2, who once again is being steered by World Match Racing Tour skipper Paolo Cian, aided by tactician Pierluigi Fornelli. Other team members include Matias Picornell, Enrico Zennaro, Pierluigi De Felice, Andrea Trani, Giuseppe Leonardi, Simon Rosier, and Pietro Mantovani. This is an exceptionally strong team, with multiple America’s Cups, World Tour stages, Olympic Games and World Championships to their credit. And besides fulfilling his duties as a crew member sailing on board Roma 2, owner Faruffini is also the President of the GP 42 Class.
With a new boat to learn in just a few weeks, Daniel Calero’s Islas Canarias Puerto Calero has opted to stay with the same crew members as when this team started in the class in 2007. Helmed by Jose María Ponce and led by tactician Gustavo Martinez Doreste, the crew includes Alicia Ageno, Leonardo Armas, Federico Morales, Domingo Manrique, Carlos Hernandez, Moises Farias, Gonzalo Morales and David Vera. Calero says this team is young, all are native to the Canary Islands and also full of potential.
Racing in the Audi MedCup’s GP 42 Series in Alicante will start on Thursday, 14 May and conclude on Sunday 17 May after a practice race on Wednesday, 13 May.