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.film Racing reels in the GC32 leaders at Copa del Rey MAPFRE

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The eight flying GC32 catamarans competing at Copa del Rey MAPFRE
The eight flying GC32 catamarans competing at Copa del Rey MAPFRE

The two America’s Cup teams did not have it all their own way as racing got underway today for the GC32 Racing Tour fleet on the Bay of Palma at the Mediterranean’s most prestigious multi-class regatta, 37 Copa del Rey MAPFRE. 

While Franck Cammas’ NORAUTO and Sir Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK were the blockbusters, comfortably winning the first four races between them, it was .film Racing of Australian owner-driver Simon Delzoppo’s that claimed the fifth and final race. 

Delzoppo attributed this to the fire in his belly lit when an umpire call had gone against him in the closing moments of the previous race. “So I went into the start quite aggressively,” recalled the Aussie domain name magnate, with a glint in his eye. “The good thing is that we have got good boat speed and we were fast down breeze and upwind. We are getting more consistent and improving. Sometimes it just comes together.” .film Racing, on which French GC32 veteran Sébastien Col calls tactics, ended up leading race five, start to finish. “We had spotted that the right (downwind) was the way to go. There was favoured shift down there that paid off. There are some good guys here. Everyone will win on their day if they are good enough.”

There was also some satisfaction in beating the British America’s Cup team, skippered here this week by Leigh McMillan, formerly .film Racing’s tactician. “There is a bit of rivalry,” Delzoppo admitted.

After day one .film Racing tops the GC32 Owner-Driver leaderboard. However American Jason Carroll’s Argo is just a point behind with Erik Maris’ Zoulou, a star performer in Lagos, a further three points back - ahead of New Zealand’s Simon Hull on Frank Racing and Federico Ferioli’s Código Rojo Racing from Argentina.
Racing on the Bay of Palma, close to Majorca’s airport, today provided very different conditions to those of last month’s GC32 Lagos Cup in Portugal: The wind was mostly stable in direction (southsouthwest) and speed (10-12 knots), but a sea rolling into the Bay made life difficult for competitors on starboard gybe.

The day started with NORAUTO powered by Team France continuing their seemingly invincible run from Lagos, coming out fastest in today’s round of the ANONIMO Speed Challenge and winning the first two races. “The first one was easy but the second one was harder,” explained skipper Franck Cammas. “The starts were better but in the last three INEOS Team UK was a lot better and we struggled to come back. We did twice, but not in the last one when we made a bad decision, which we only found out after the race…”

After today the former Volvo Ocean Race winner appreciates he has a fight on his hands with INEOS Team UK. “Leigh has sailed the GC32 a lot and he has a good reflexes and a good feel for the boat which makes it harder for us,” concluded Cammas.

Indeed INEOS Team UK’s winning races three and four and having no finishes off the podium, has given Cammas a dose of his own medicine, launching the Brits into an early lead at Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Having reigning Finn Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott on board, as well as new recruit, Australian Joey Newton, winner of two of the last three multihull America’s Cups, McMillan has the ‘supreme team’ with him this week, even if they lack GC32 sea time together.

“It is more about gelling as a team and really understanding our strengths and weaknesses and working on that,” says McMillan, who won the GC32 Racing Tour in 2015 at the helm of Sultanate of Oman.

Of today’s racing McMillan added: “It was lovely conditions out there and we have had a bit of that practicing over the last few days. It was about making little improvements and trying to move the game on as each race goes by.” Generally INEOS Team UK was starting especially well today. “We were getting faster as the day went on and, finding little tweaks on the boat to improve our speed, made for a solid day.”

Racing continues tomorrow at 1300 CET in conditions expected to be similar to today but with up to six races (instead of five) scheduled.

Results

Pos    Team    R1    R2    R3    R4    R5    Tot
1    INEOS TEAM UK    3    2    1    1    2    9
2    NORAUTO    1    1    2    2    5    11
3    Realteam    5    5    5    3    3    21
4    .film Racing    7    3    4    8    1    23
5    Argo    DNF/9     4    3    4    4    24
6    Zoulou    2    7    6    5    7    27
7    Frank Racing    4    8    7    7    6    32
8    Código Rojo Racing    6    6    8    6    8    34