Tensions Hotting Up on GC32 Racing Tour

GC32 World Championship Lagos. © Sailing Energy/GC32 Racing Tour. 27 June, 2019.
GC32 World Championship Lagos. © Sailing Energy/GC32 Racing Tour. 27 June, 2019.

Tensions are hotting up on the GC32 Racing Tour circuit as the Riva Cup looms on the horizon later this month.

We are excited at the prospect of joining the teams and seeing that action; live in Riva del Garda Italy, when the teams compete for the Riva Cup in what will be the fourth round in a five round world tour.

The first leg was in May when teams raced for the Villasimius Cup in Sardinia, Italy.  Lagos in Portugal saw the second round and Mallorca de Palma hosted round three

Now news has been released that Oman is to host the final and deciding event of the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour.

Oman Air team well placed

This especially exciting with the Oman Air team well placed to secure the overall Tour title on home waters. Muscat will extend a warm welcome to the fleet of high-performance foiling catamarans as they race for the Oman Cup over 5-9 November.

The teams will be based in and racing on the open waters off Al Mouj Marina in the heart of the city.

Oman Air sailing team doing well

The Oman Air crew is currently leading the GC32 Racing Tour and overall victory for the Oman Sail-run racing team would make a spectacular contribution to the celebrations marking the organisation’s 10th anniversary year.

Despite tensions hotting up it is a prospect that delights skipper Adam Minoprio. “The whole Oman Air crew is looking forward to finishing the GC32 Racing Tour on home waters and in front of home supporters in Muscat. We are leading the Tour and it would be fantastic if we could win the title in Oman this November. We will be going full out to make that happen,” said Minoprio, who leads a crew that includes long-standing Oman Sail team member Nasser Al Mashari.

Lake Garda

The GC32 fleet will race on Lake Garda, Italy, next month and we will be there to watch them.

The fourth event of the season this will be the last time they race before heading to the Oman Cup finale, with the destination of the Tour title likely to be in the balance right up to the last day of racing in Muscat.

Welcoming the GC32 Racing Tour to Oman, CEO of Oman Sail David Graham said: “We are delighted that the Tour will reach its exciting conclusion here in Oman, and we can guarantee that all the teams and their supporters will receive the warm hospitality that the country is rightly famed for.

“The crews who have raced here before, particularly with the Extreme Sailing Series, know that Oman’s exceptional conditions are ideally suited to the high-speed flying GC32 catamarans, with the breeze in November ranging from 10 to 14 knots.”

Al Mouj Marina will host final

Muscat and Al Mouj Marina are well known to many of the crews as a regular host venue since 2009 for the former Extreme Sailing Series. Currently tied on points with Oman Air for the lead of the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour overall, long-term rivals Alinghi and Team Principal Ernesto Bertarelli have always been fans of the Sultanate. They also have the added incentive that when they last visited Oman in 2018 it was the first time the two-time America’s Cup winners had won there in seven attempts. 

“Conditions are always very good there,” says Alinghi Team Director Pierre-Yves Jorand. “The only difference this time compared to past editions is that we are going in November and we don’t know how the weather will be. I expect there will be very warm water but the sea breeze might be slightly different.” 

Oman Air sailing team to race final in waters off Muscat
The Extreme Sailing Series 2017. Muscat. Oman. Pictures of the fleet racing close to the shore and historic town of Mutrah Credit – Lloyd Images

As to their prospects, Jorand is under no illusion that it will be a fight to the bitter end with their Omani rivals who will be on home waters. “I expect a very tight battle with Oman Air going into the final racing day of 2019.”

Return to Muscat

Manager of the GC32 Racing Tour, Christian Scherrer added: “We are looking forward to returning to Muscat for the last event of the season. The GC32s and the GC32 Class have a long relationship both with Oman as a host country for our events as well as the local team Oman Air which has been a member of the Class since 2016. 

“Organising the last event of the season in Oman also gives us the opportunity to keep the boats there over the European winter and organise not just winter storage and refits but also training events.”