by Sailing Intelligence
With the Nacra 17 in the Olympic Games for Rio 2016 and the 34rd America’s Cup being sailed this year in foiling AC72s, soaring interest in competing on two hulls has prompted a new circuit to be set up for the absolute state of the art in racing catamarans.
Created by cat sailors Laurent Lenne and Andrew Macpherson, the Great Cup makes its debut next month on Lake Traunsee, Austria, and will be sailed in brand new, purpose-built GC32 foiling catamarans.
Built in entirely in carbon fibre by Premier Composites in Dubai, the GC32 has been designed by Martin Fischer, best known for his groundbreaking Capricorn, Hobie Wild Cat and Phantom F18 catamarans and his work on Franck Cammas’ Groupama trimarans.
The GC32 features the latest S-foil daggerboards and L-profile rudders. These generate enough vertical lift to elevate the GC32 out of the water when she is sailing at speed, in a similar fashion to the foiling AC72s. But unlike the solid wing used on America’s Cup catamarans, the GC32 features a simpler and more conventional rotating wingmast rig, making its launch and retrieval an easier process.
Significantly, the Great Cup is aimed at accomplished amateur sailors looking to go racing aboard the fastest, most advanced boats for their size. “We want the Great Cup to be the catamaran equivalent of racing a Melges,” says Laurent Lenne, himself a businessman and an amateur F18 sailor, who conceived the GC32 as the boat he most wanted to sail.
As a result The Great Cup is being set up to give owners and teams easy access to their boats without their having too far to travel for their racing. The intention is to have a number of local circuits, the first being in Western Europe, with others to follow in the USA and Australasia. When these are established the cream of these fleets will meet up to compete in the equivalent of a World Championship.
Because The Great Cup is aimed more at private owners than sponsored boats with pro crews, the circuit will be less-orientated towards ‘stadium sailing’. While races are sure to be kept short, emphasis will be placed on ensuring the best racing for the competitors. The lightweight GC32 is also designed so it can be raced in the widest range of conditions, from 5 to 25 knots, to maximise the opportunities to compete.
While the prospect of racing a boat capable of 15 knots upwind and more than 30 while ‘flying’ downwind might seem alarming, the GC32 has been conceived to be very well behaved on all parts of the race course. If an AC72 is the equivalent of a fully fledged Formula 1 race car, the GC32 is more a super-high performance road car. For example the hi-tech foils may give the impression of making the boat harder to sail. In reality their effect on the helm is not overly noticeable, they reduce pitching and while the usually terrifying bear-away at the top mark still incurs considerable G-force on the crew, it does so with the risk of pitchpoling much reduced. In effect the GC32 design maintains the catamaran’s outstanding speed around the race track, while minimising the possibility of capsize.
As Laurent Lenne says: “To me, as an owner, the first time you step on the boat you are overwhelmed by how impressive the speed is, but at the same time you feel safe very quickly.”
2013 will be the year where The Great Cup establishes itself. Already three GC32 have been constructed and these will have their competitive first outing in Europe at Allianz Traunsee Week on Lake Traunsee, Austria over 8-12 May.
The boats are then scheduled to move on to Lake Geneva in June where they will compete in the Geneve-Rolle-Geneve and the Bol d’Or Mirabaud.
The Great Cup