Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 37
Black Star wins GC32 World Championship nail biter
K-Challenge Team France was the dominant force for the first half of this GC32 World Championship, held in Lagos, Portugal, but for the second half it was Christian Zuerrer’s Black Star Sailing Team which overtook the French after today’s third of four races. With outstanding consistency, the Swiss podiumed in every one of the last 10 races. This afternoon they were crowned the flying catamaran class’ fourth World Champions following Team Tilt, Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team.
Black Star Sailing Team only debuted on the GC32 Racing Tour in 2019 but trained to finish 2021 third overall. Impressively, this GC32 World Championship, the pinnacle event of the season, was their first ever GC32 Racing Tour event victory.
“I am absolutely happy,” said Zuerrer. “I want to thank my family who gave me the time to stay away from home and…yes, we did it, finally!
“We managed to find the breeze best of all the teams. We started well and we had to keep the boat moving – that was most important. Maybe we were also lucky that we were always on right side of the pressure. It was shifty and they might have stopped the races, but we always tried to be in the leading position.”
Black Star is unique for her owner trimming main, rather than helming. This instead is handled by Kiwi match racer Chris Steele. Also on board were Italian Pierluigi De Felice, Kiwi Stewart Dodson and Brit Will Alloway. Steele famously won the Optimist Worlds in 2007. “This is up there!” he said of how it ranks. “It is cool to be part of this project. There are some awesome guys in the teams.”
As to their performance, Steele added: “We have always been strong in the light, so that played into our hands. I have to give credit to K-Challenge, they came out of the blocks firing early on, which surprised people and were there right to the end. They were really quick upwind, but we were fast upwind, but really fast downwind.”
AC40 boat one reaches final stages of construction in China ahead of Auckland sea trials
The first ever AC40 one-design foiling monohull is reported to be just weeks away from being delivered to America’s Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand for commissioning and sea trials on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.
The team has released images of the first boat in the final stages of construction at the McConaghy Yachts build facility in China.
The AC40 design is based on ETNZ’s 36th America’s Cup winning AC75 Te Rehutai but according to the syndicate’s chief designer Dan Bernasconi the AC40 represents a step on from that boat.
“We didn’t hold back on the design,” Bernasconi says. “We took the IP (intellectual property) of Te Rehutai and translated it into the best 40-footer we could create.”
SailGP – Ben Ainslie talks tactics ahead of Plymouth event
As the most decorated Olympic sailor of all time, Driver and co-owner of the British team Ben Ainslie is one of the best known athletes in SailGP.
He joined the circuit ahead of Season 2, replacing former Driver Dylan Fletcher and, in October 2021, took majority ownership of the team in a first for the league. Despite this, Ainslie has yet to race at a home event, after personal commitments meant he was absent from last season’s Great Britain Sail Grand Prix.
Interim Driver Paul Goodison stepped in, picking up fourth place overall. Now, with Ainslie in the driving seat, the Great Britain SailGP Team will be looking to build on their 2nd and 3rd place finishes in Bermuda and Chicago in front of the home crowd.
We caught up with Ainslie ahead of the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix | Plymouth to talk team tactics and what to expect when racing resumes later this month.
It’s been six years since Ainslie has raced in front of a home crowd. The last time was the Portsmouth America’s Cup events in 2015 and 2016, both of which were won by his all-British Land Rover BAR team, and before that it was the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth and Portland, during which he clinched his fourth gold medal.
But when it comes to Plymouth, Ainslie hasn’t sailed there since he was a teenager. “That was quite a long time ago,” he says, “I don’t have a huge amount of experience in Plymouth truth be told.”
Despite this, he describes Plymouth Sound as a ‘challenging but great venue’, with the breakwater providing ‘relatively flat waters’ and the Hoe acting as a natural amphitheatre. “It ticks all the boxes,” he says. One key obstacle for the teams will be the unpredictability of the British summer weather which, Ainslie says, can be ‘baking hot with a light sea breeze or pouring rain and blowing 25 knots’. “You just don’t know what you’re going to get.”
Nevertheless, Ainslie is excited to hit home waters. “You don’t get many opportunities to race at home at this sort of level and it’s extra special to race in front of a home crowd.”
52 Super Series – Are Quantum Racing favourites in Puerto Portals?
After two regattas on the Atlantic, May in Galicia and June in Cascais, Portugal the 2022 52 Super Series returns to the Mediterranean next week, to the perennial high summer favourite venue, Puerto Portals, Mallorca.
Puerto Portals 52 Super Series Sailing Week sees Quantum Racing, winners of both events so far this season, arrive on the Bay of Palma carrying a 14 points lead on the overall standings for the season-long championship. The US flagged team have shown a high level of consistency, sailing smartly with good all round speed and generally low risk strategies.
But the championship leaders return to Puerto Portals, a venue where they have not won since 2018, without their talismanic owner-driver Doug DeVos. A long standing, historic commitment to race the Chicago-Mac race at home each and every year, means DeVos will be absent and Terry Hutchinson will take the helm of Quantum Racing. Usual strategist Argentina’s Olympic bronze medalist Lucas Calabrese takes on the responsibility of the tactician’s role ably supported by navigator Michele Ivaldi.
“It will be business as usual. We have done plenty of training days in this configuration and we already tested our comms and systems. Terry is a great driver and Lucas has proven himself to be a very strong tactician.”
New Wave Surfs to IC37 Championship at
2022 Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex
With a five-point lead, and the IC37 National Championship and a Rolex Submariner timepiece on the line, Steve Liebel and the crew of New Wave went into the final race planning for a safe start. It didn’t turn out that way as New Wave found itself owning the pin end of the line, typically a start that is on the Gordon Gekko end of the risk-reward ratio.
“That’s where we ended up,” says Liebel. “We weren’t planning on it, but the pin end ended up being open. We were hoping we could get out. [After the start] we tacked to cross, and I bet there were probably five or six boats that we were crossing by five to 10 feet. If we couldn’t get across any one of those, that last race would have ended a little differently.”
Instead, however, Liebel and his team successfully crossed the fleet and won the final race and the National Championship, which was part of the 13th edition of Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex.
“This is a huge win, we’re very, very proud of this,” says Liebel. “I’m very happy for the team. Any national championship is a nice one to have, heck yeah.”
The New York Yacht Club’s Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex was first run in 1998, and takes place this year from July 13 to 16 out of the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport. R.I.
The biennial regatta, run at the apex of the summer sailing season, has established itself as one of the premier summer race weeks in the Northeast thanks to the attractive combination of great racing conditions off Newport and the superlative shoreside hospitality at the Club’s waterfront Clubhouse overlooking Newport Harbor. Partners for the 2022 edition of Race Week at Newport include presenting sponsor Rolex and regatta sponsors Hammetts Hotel, Safe Harbor Marinas and Helly Hansen.