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Iker Martínez returns to the GC32 for Copa del Rey MAPFRE

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On board with Iker Martinez
On board with Iker Martinez

One of Spain’s most accomplished sailors, Iker Martínez is set to return to the GC32 flying one design catamaran for 38 Copa del Rey MAPFRE in Palma de Mallorca next week. The Mediterranean’s leading multi-class regatta, organised by the Real Club Náutico de Palma, is the third event of the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour following Villasimius, Sardinia and the GC32 World Championship in Lagos, Portugal. 

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GC32 racing at 38 Copa del Rey MAPFRE will start on 31 July and will culminate on 3 August with a prizegiving where King Felipe VI of Spain will preside. 
For 38 Copa del Rey MAPFRE, Martinez, the two time 49er Olympic medallist, and former Volvo Ocean Race and Barcelona World Race skipper, will be campaigning his GC32 under the name M&G Tressis Silicius. 

“We have been out of the game with the GC32,” admits Martinez, who last raced his GC32 at Copa del Rey MAPFRE two years ago. “We started in a pretty good way, but we had to stop because I didn’t have enough time. Now we have restructured and are trying to rebuild the team. This is just the beginning...”

He is aware that he will be rusty: “We know it will be very hard and we are unlikely to beat anyone. The GC32 teams coming here are super good, super professional, with a lot of experience, but we will try and do our best. We don’t often set this kind of goal – normally we go into races to win.”

On board M&G Tressis Silicius with him will be Portugal’s Luís Brito, Fernando Rodriguez Rivero, former 29er World Champion Carlos Robles and Daniel De La Pedraja.

Copa del Rey MAPFRE is highly significant for Martinez. “For sailing in Spain it is the biggest event - the most important by far. It is like the Olympic Games for big boats.”

The Adam Minoprio-steered Oman Air will be one of the favourites for Copa del Rey MAPFRE
The Adam Minoprio-steered Oman Air will be one of the favourites for Copa del Rey MAPFRE

Among the serious competition Martinez will be facing next week will be Oman Air. Skipper this year is Adam Minoprio, the Kiwi former Match Racing World Champion turned Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup sailor. Minoprio is also one of the most accomplished GC32 skippers and was Franck Cammas’ stand-in two years ago when he steered NORAUTO to victory at Copa del Rey MAPFRE. 

The team got off to a strong start this season winning in Villasimius followed by a fourth in Lagos. However only joining the GC32 Racing Tour this year from the now defunct Extreme Sailing Series, this will be the team’s first time competing at Copa del Rey MAPFRE, although individual her crew they have competed here a lot. Peter Greenhalgh for example has raced TP52s and 49ers here extensively: “It is a great venue. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed for the wind,” he says.

Copa del Rey MAPFRE is the only event on the GC32 Racing Tour which is not stand-alone. In Palma, the catamarans will be berthed by many of the world’s top racing yachts, from Maxi 72s down to the IRC, ORC and smaller one design fleets, whose crews, for a fourth consecutive year, will have the opportunity to see 30 knot foiling catamaran racing first hand. 

“It will help to bring it closer to new people potentially wanting to get into the class,” says Greenhalgh. “We will be taking a few people out to show them what foiling is like so they can go ‘I sailed a GC32 and it was a piece of cake and I’m going to get one’…” 

Erik Maris' Zoulou will be back for her third Copa del Rey MAPFRE with the GC32 Racing Tour
Erik Maris' Zoulou will be back for her third Copa del Rey MAPFRE with the GC32 Racing Tour

French owner-driver Erik Maris and his Zoulou team have sailed two GC32 events on the Bay of Palma is, finishing mid-fleet in 2017 and fourth overall and second in the owner-driver ranking last year.

“It is always a good place to go - there is nice weather with a sea breeze most of the time,” says Zoulou crewman Thomas le Breton. “It is not as tactical as somewhere like Lagos because the sea breeze is quite stable - 15 knots and a good temperature – so starting and speed are more important. Erik likes it because you know the wind is coming at 1200 and at 1700 it is finished and the yacht club is comfortable.”

Rejoining the Zoulou crew for Copa del Rey MAPFRE, back from injury, will be America’s Cup veteran Thierry Fouchier, who comes fresh from winning the Transpac with Jason Carroll’s Argo team. Zoulou will also taking the opportunity to get race ready with some additional training time beforehand. 

GC32 racing at Copa del Rey MAPFRE will take place over 31 July to 3 August on the course immediately outside of Palma’s harbour. 

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