M32 racing returns to its birthplace
This week, the M32 European Series 2019 returns home to Sweden for its third event. Following on from Pisa, Italy and Medemblik, Holland, racing for the high performance one design catamarans will resume this Friday for three days off the popular west coast holiday hotspot of Marstrand, some 20km north of the island of Hönö where the M32 catamaran’s builder Aston Harald is based. This will be the first of two M32 European Series events taking place in Sweden, followed on 17 August by the Tjörn Runt, one of Sweden’s most popular coastal races, with two days of inshore racing off Stenungsund beforehand.
Leading among the nine teams competing this weekend is likely to be Ian Williams’ Team GAC Pindar. The British team won in Pisa and last month was second in Medemblik.
Williams is no stranger to Marstrand having sailed his first match racing event there in 2005 and just a fortnight ago the WMRT World Championship (a title he has won a record six times). “It is a fantastic venue for any sort of sailing,” he says. “It is a great place to hang out in the summer and you have the outer bay which is protected with relatively flat water and if necessary you can also race in the fjord. The island is a very busy tourist venue at this time of year, but it has a great sheltered area to keep the boats right in the hub of the village.”
Expected to do well is Zurich-based Englishman Richard Davies and his Section 16, which currently lies third overall in the 2019 M32 European Series. While Davies isn’t as familiar with Marstrand as his rivals, he did race there at the M32 World Championship two years ago.
“It is a great place to sail these boats. You get a bit more of an ocean swell and it is usually pretty windy which will help us. And it is a great place to be as well. Marstrand in summer is fabulous,” says Davies, who is expecting further tough competition on the water. “That is the great beauty of the M32 class. It is always really close. No one ever dominates and starts are always difficult.”
Making the journey north from Italy will be Andrea Lacorte and his Vitamina Veloce Cetilar team. The Italian M32 finished second overall in the M32 European Series last year and started this season slowly, finishing fifth in Pisa.
“Sailing in a beautiful location like Marstrand is always very exciting, amazing and enjoyable,” says Lacorte. “For this event there will be a substantial fleet of boats, which represents success for the new management of the M32 class, which I congratulate. They are doing a great job, leading up to the M32 World Championship on Lake Garda, which will certainly be a memorable event.
Photo: M32 World / Drew Malcolm
Photo: M32 World Drew Malcolm
Several teams are joining the M32 European Series in the build-up to the M32 World Championship taking place out of Riva del Garda on 26-30 August. Travelling furthest to compete in Marstrand for example will be the Bliksem team of New York-based Dutchman Pieter Taaselar. This will be the Bliksem team’s third season in the M32 and they have past experience racing at the highest level – they were Audi Melges 32 World Champions in 2009.
As usual for the Swedish events there will be a strong turn-out of local teams. New to the M32 European Series this season is Richard Göransson and his well known Inga from Sweden team which finished fourth in Pisa. In addition to boat captain Oliver Tizzard, Göransson will be joined by veteran cat sailor Mark Bulkeley and Extreme Sailing Series and Volvo Ocean Race crewman Brad Ferrand.
Trying out the M32 European Series for the first time will be 37-year-old Swedish tech entrepreneur John-Christian de Champs, founder of Lendify.se, Vidici.se. While de Champs is new to the M32, he has sailed all his life. He campaigned a Melges 24 over 2007-13 and most recently has been competing on the FAST40+ Elvis and on an F18 catamaran. His crew includes British offshore sailor Sam Goodchild.
Popular Swedish match racer Johnie Berntsson has lent his M32 to a youth team. The Berntsson Sailing Team M32 will be skippered by Anton Karlsson with Wilhelm Eriksson, Lukas and Pontus Andersson as crew.
The NZL KNOTS Racing team will continue campaigning the youth M32, generously provided by Aston Harald, but with a Danish flavour this weekend as joining the crew will be match racer Joachim Aschenbrenner and his crew Lars Peter and Hans Christian Rosendahl (with whom Aschenbrenner won the ISAF Youth Match Race World Championship in 2014). They are joined by Zak Merton and Tim Snedden who were part of Nick Egnot-Johnson’s crew which finished fifth in Medemblik.
We can expect the racing to be particularly cut-throat this weekend since many of the crew have long experience competing in match racing events in Marstrand. While Ian Williams won the prestigious Stena Match Cup Sweden here in 2011, others include Aschenbrenner, and tacticians Vitamina Veloce Cetilar’s Torvar Mirsky and Bliksem’s Keith Swinton.
Racing takes place over 19-21 June starting at 1400 on the 19th, 1300 on the 20th and 1200 on the 21st.