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Flying Fleet

Lake Garda this week sees the greatest gathering of foiling yachts ever, in the first ever GC32 World Championships.  A host of Americas Cup and Olympic sailors join the top flight of professionals in the regatta that sees the competing events of the Extreme Sailing Series and the GC32 Racing Tour, both of which currently use the GC32 as their racing platform, combine fleets to deliver fleet racing for 13 boats. 

The GC32 one design relies on robust equipment on board to withstand the hammering that short course racing on these highly physical boats demands. Naturally Spinlock rope holding is chosen to perform reliably, allowing the crews to focus on keeping the boats sailing fast.

Gear failure is disappointing in any sport but with the GC32 being such a high-performance foiling catamaran, the most minor technical issue can have devastating effects on a team’s performance and the appearance of the racing – of great importance to the fans and sponsors.

Problems carry a high tariff on the race course – mistakes by the crew can be minimised by rigorous training, and similarly a strict and conscientious regime of preventative maintenance can mitigate the risk of gear failure and technical problems. The teams are supported by hard-working shore crews, and the sailors competing in these boats must themselves have a level of technical competency to ensure that the boat is prepared perfectly for racing.  It appears the job of perfecting the finish on the foils – so critical to speed and hydro foiling efficiency – is never done, such is the high-speed nature of these boats.

Fortunately, technical issue can be reduced by choosing the right equipment, and by choosing Spinlock XXB Powerclutch the GC32 Class association has a robust solution to hold the high loads and to keep the focus on the performance of the sailors.  The XXB Powerclutch has ceramic technology to match the Technora fibres used in covers on halyards, board downlines and tack lines, giving the positive mechanical grip instantly on the lines, allowing the crew to synchronise, maintaining the fastest foiling mode through manoeuvres where timing is critical, and the smallest error can cause foil cavitation leading to ugly wheelies or nose dives – not fast!

Spinlocks Rig Sense tension metre has helped teams learn about the real dynamic loads on the ropes and platform structure, to ensure the equipment can work tirelessly, but consistently inside safety margins.  The RGS0508 tension gauge also fits on the PBO and Aramid fibre standing rigging to facilitate precise rig setup to match conditions. 

In the 34th America’s Cup, Spinlock enjoyed a partnership with the Land Rover BAR, developing the T2 integrated buoyancy aid and outer layer, providing the aerodynamic advantage over its competition. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to overcome the power of the “cyclors” and the innovation of Team New Zealand (many of whose sailors are competing in Riva del Garda in the GC32 Worlds) but the partnership did bear fruit in the form of the commercially available Aero Pro buoyancy aid, derived from the T2 jacket and now popular among GC32 teams and a spectrum of other dinghy classes and high-performance sailors.

This product and the success of the GC32 World Championships are a testament to the technology trickle down and inspiration generated by the last AC.




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